GAO Suggests It's Time To Ditch Dollar Bills For Coins

from the that'll-upset-some-folks dept

While not the first time it’s done so, the GAO has once again urged the federal government to get rid of dollar bills and replace them with dollar coins. It says that this single move could save the government $5.5 billion over 30 years. That’s chump change to the government, but it’s still $5.5 billion. The report notes that Canada and the UK have done similar moves, and it has worked despite initial public resistance. Still, I’d imagine that US public resistance can be stronger than elsewhere on issues that are fundamentally meaningless, but to which people apply a sentimental value. And let’s not even get started on the question of whether or not it’s finally time to ditch the penny…

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Comments on “GAO Suggests It's Time To Ditch Dollar Bills For Coins”

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Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other Mints

… yeah, NZ eventually got around this issue by tossing the 1 and 2 cent coins and just rounding the totals. (we then also tossed the 5c coin, which means the rounding is no longer an even split each way, but whatever)

of course, at this point, almost everyone uses debit cards for most stuff, which renders the whole issue irrelivant, but there’s still plenty of contexts where it makes sense. (on the other hand, the 5 and 10 dollar notes don’t seem to get used for much of anything beyond making change anymore, really.)

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other Mints

There’s a very good reason. No matter how smart we are and how much we think it doesn’t work on us, it does – studies that test 99c pricing versus rounded dollar pricing show HUGE benefits to that tiny piece of psychological trickery, even in the modern world with people who are supposedly “used to it”

Thus that scene in Mad Men where Don Draper points out that the VW Beetle ads aren’t “genius” – 99c was genius

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other Mints

that system usually has 1 and 2 dollar coins as well as 1 and 2 cent coins, so… yeah, 2.50 is two coins. the third coin is the 1c change you get back ๐Ÿ˜€
(well, unless you live somewhere like NZ, where it’s 2$, 50c, no coin smaller than a 10c so rounding eats your change if you pay with cash for anything with a price ending in 5,6,7,8 or 9 cents, anyway.)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other Mints

better still, in actual systems:

hand over a $1 coin, get a 1c coin back. two coins, all done.

or, more likely, hand over a $1 coin, get nothing back because the penny analog is so utterly worthless that they don’t make it any more and round to the nearest 5 instead. only one coin required.

(of course, these days it’s the nearest 10c, here abouts, but whatever)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Other Mints

everyone keeps neglecting the concepts of dollar coins and making change.

the entire transaction requires only four coins, total, if you have 1c,2c,5c,10c,20c,50c, $1 and $2 coins (though a 1 or 2$ note probably works just as well, but defeats the point in the exercise.) and Include the other party’s ability to make change.

(or at least this holds true of all the ‘uh… no you can’t’ answers so far)

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s all about how much you will spend. I don’t have anything to back me up (too lazy to search) but studies have shown that you will send more change than actual bills. The more change you have, the more you want to get rid of it, the more you will spend. It’s that simple. Sure, it “saves” money (or supposedly does) but down the line, people spend more so that’s what’s interesting for the Gov (at least it was in Canada).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Vending machines love coins

No, you’ll just spend more of those coins in them. Of course, since you’re also too lazy to research, I’ll point it out for you. NPR has a nice article on it.

“Priya Raghubir and Joydeep Srivastava did a series of experiments in the U.S. and China that showed people were much more willing to spend the same sum of money if they had smaller denominations instead of one large bill.”

There you have it. No need for mindless comments.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Vending machines love coins

There are three US dollar coins already. Older silver dollars, Susan B. Anthony dollar coins and the more recent gold dollar coin that any vending machine in a US Post Office will give you for change when buying stamps/supplies.

Ditch the paper dollar already, please. While you’re at it please have gas prices priced to the whole penny as well. There are absolutely zero good reasons a gallon of gas should be priced with 9/10 of a cent, which I couldn’t get change on if I wanted. This has to be the single most ridiculous pricing scheme I have ever seen in my life!

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Vending machines love coins

pretty sure that’s arrived at by dividing the cost/price/whatever of the fuel in whatever units it’s sold to them in by the number of gallons (which is guaranteed not to produce sane numbers because imperial measures are stupid), and then applying percentage based taxes.

our fuel prices regularly go out to the 100th of a cent per liter. and our cents are worth a fair bit less than a US penny. (and I’m pretty sure a liter is smaller than a gallon, but i can’t be bothered looking it up).

of course, it’s all rather irrelevant when the system is set up so you can go ‘i have $20. give me $20 worth of fuel.’ just means you get some weird fraction of a liter at the end. most people either do that or just fill the tank.. and when you’re already spending 20-50 dollars or so on fuel, fractions of cents are so utterly irrelevant that the fact that they’re there for what are essentially tax and truth-in-advertising purposes doesn’t matter at all.

(seriously, i think you’d have to be fueling a ship or something before those numbers matter…)

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Vending machines love coins

pretty sure that’s arrived at by dividing the cost/price/whatever of the fuel in whatever units it’s sold to them in by the number of gallons (which is guaranteed not to produce sane numbers because imperial measures are stupid), and then applying percentage based taxes.

No, because the price always ends with .9 cents.

(seriously, i think you’d have to be fueling a ship or something before those numbers matter…)

Or operating a gas station.

jonvaljon says:

Re: Re:

Well… I think your logic is flawed…

I have for years, been trading in my cash, at the begining of the week, for rolls of dollar coins.


So I can feel my pocket getting lighter with every dollar I spend. When I had a bunch of bills in my wallet, be they 1’s or 20’s, it was just harder to get a feel for how much you have, and have spent. I dunno about you, but my logic was never “oh crap, Ive got to spend these coins because they are here,” it was more “oh crap, my pocket is damn light, I better skip the coffee today.”

Make any sense?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not at all, no. You prefer carrying 20$ in coins everywhere you go? I’d like to see you fall into a lake, it’d be hilarious. Normal people carry bills, leave change at home. Ask around.

Plus it’s not “my / whoever’s” logic, it’s a proven study. But as always, lots of techdirt readers like to make up their own facts and ignore that’s publicly out there.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Depends on the drugs, really. Some, like cocaine, are metric but our biggest one (pot) is still measured with imperial units (dime = 1/10 oz, quarter = 1/4 oz, etc).

Oh, wait. You meant LEGAL drugs. Okay, then, yeah, those are metric. Let’s not forget two of the most important things. Liquor is sold in metric volumes and Coke and other soft drinks have come in 2 liter bottles forever and now they also sell liter and .5 liter sizes. Of course, you still have 12 oz and 20 oz sizes too so, eh.

jonvaljon says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because the vast majority of Americans do not know how many ounces to a cup, grams to an lb, feet in a mile, etc. Not the case in any other country. If youve passed your 10’s times tables, you know how your measurements break down.


(hint the answer is always 10!)

And we continue to appear as a coutnry of idiots..

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

yeah, it’s more likely to be 1000.

Technically it goes millimeter, centimeter, decimeter, meter, decameter, centameter(? not sure on that one) kilo meter. likewise with liters. i dunno what’s up with grams (the kilo-gram seems to fill the slot of meters and liters, and then you get up to tonnes (tons? which ever one the imperial measurement isn’t) which are like kilo-kilograms…)

most people get by fine with just grams, kilograms, meters, centimeters (millimeters as required) liters, and milliliters, though. (apparently deciliters are quite a common unit in parts of Europe, but here we’d just label the thing in round hundreds of milliliters)

but yeah, the name contains the number of the base unit. standard base ten prefixing.

(also, pure water at sea level gives you something like 1 cubic centimeter = 1 gram = ten milliliters, if i remember rightly. basically lots of ratios work with nice round numbers in metric. that said, it’s a heck of a lot easier to make rough estimates by eye with imperial units… at least for distance. there’s a reason why most people here still give someone’s height in feet (whether they then use fractions of feet or actual inches varies a lot though, and official records and anything involving mathematics will still have it in cm.))

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, I remember serious discussion on switching to metric when I was a 2nd grader…in 1972.

I was in 2nd grade about then too. I was constantly taught the metric system throughout my school years in advance of the change over that was forthcoming. Some where along the line it sort of fizzled out and the change never came.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That also includes those wonderful ‘special’ tools needed for removing one lousy bolt that you can’t reach with a normal socket wrench….

Ooof. Hate that kind off stuff. Even worse, I currently own a vehicle that I have to disconnect the steering column to reach one of the spark plugs. The engineer who thought that one up should be hung from their toenails until common sense returns to their head.

HrilL says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m a little younger than you was in 2nd grade in 1992 and We also used the metric and standard system. Were told we’re going to replace our system with metric. I think most Americans do in fact know both in most states. Don’t know about the backward states though that are trying to avoid teaching evolution as well. Not really sure what system the bible uses and don’t care.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

cubits, mostly.

the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the bone you can feel in your elbow when your arm’s bent, if i remember rightly. it’s less variable than the size of a foot etc.

that said, the system used in egypt was to define a ‘cubit’ at the beginning of a project, by actually measuring the arm of the architect or person who wanted the project built, then making a bunch of standard length rods that size. i think, but am not entirely sure as i don’t rightly remember, that the temple (and tabernacle), were built to a set size, given in cubits, and the standard size a cubit would then be defined based on that… but honestly i’m guessing there. (a reasonable guess though, when the temple’s exact size is listed in your scriptures, and the building’s Right There in your capital)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Then why does my kids’ doctor prescribe liquids meds in doses of teaspoons?

Really, I’m with you. The metric system makes way more sense and I’m all for it. I’ve done some mechanical engineering, all using the metric system. It always amazes me when a machine shop gets a metric drawing (that is labeled as metric) and then interprets it in inches.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

actually, they do it because 5ml is a pain in the arse to measure properly by any method because it’s tiny. here at least. also, if you put 5ml in any measuring device and you’ll get about 3ml of actual medicine in your system because the rest gets stuck at the bottom of the cup or what have you.

the teaspoon’s the right size, and nothing stays stuck in it.

halley (profile) says:

Yes, the 1; 2; 5; 10; 20; 50 system for coins makes logical sense, but it’s far from the only way to do things. In fact, the 50 cent piece is so rare I’ve seen US cashiers get confused at the sight of them. But like the metric system, the US has such a resistance to change (so to speak). We’ve had so many flirtations with dollar coins that end up falling short of the hype. The yellow Sacagawea dollars and the later collectible versions was a good idea, but few people really took to carrying them around. My wife leaves them as distinctive table tips.

In Japan, the smallest bill is 1000 yen, roughly ten dollars (more like 12 today, with swings in exchange rate). They throw around 10,000 yen bills so often, while we can’t trust our clerks with anything bigger than a twenty. They have a heavily cash-oriented society, and 100 yen / dollar coins would fill your pockets quickly if it weren’t for the THOUSANDS of vending machines in every coin-throwing direction. They have a Sacagawea-colored 500 yen coin with a sort of holographic feature, not a laser process, but just a delicate result of the way they’re stamped. The 1 yen coin is a frail little aluminum-like thing, much like taking the copper off our copper-plated zinc pennies.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: gold coins

Back in the neo-terrific, before vendo-cards, I used to have to carry around large quantities of change to feed photocopying machines. So I visited an old-time dime store, and got a tobacco pouch, made of brown patent leather, with a gold-plated clasp, and a big compartment for tobacco, and a little compartment for rolling papers. The thing had a nice “rich but not gaudy” appearance. I used the big compartment for quarters, and the little compartment for dimes, both of which I bought by the roll at the bank. Microfilm copying machines were fussier than paper copying machines, and would not make change, hence the dimes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Canada moved to dollar and two dollar coins a number of years ago without issue. The UK has the pound as a coin, and of course the Euro was designed from the word go as a coin.

They cost more to make initially, but they live for a very long time, are difficult to counterfeit (the cost makes it prohibitive to even try), and they allow for a much wider universe of vending / toll / charge options on automated systems.

It is a no brainer, and would even allow the US to have a 2 dollar coin (without Susan B Anthony on it) that would be actually useful.

Pennies you still need, unless you are going to legislate rules for “up or down” on prices. One option is to “up” the price as a federal sales tax, so if you get to 51 cents, the price becomes 55 with a 4 cent to the fed tax.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Pennies you still need, unless you are going to legislate
> rules for “up or down” on prices.

There are already “up or down” rules on prices. Sales taxes doesn’t result in prices in whole pennies.

Pennies are a sentimental tax the old people put on the young. Give it 30 years, and we won’t have hard currency anymore.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

huh. ’round here the GST (basically consumer tax) was deliberately set to a number that would give you whole numbers as a result if the base price was a whole number. (of course, expressed as a percentage it was awkward, but the maths required to attain it was simple division. anyone could do it by hand, most in their heads… AND the shops always list the price Including the tax)

of course, they recently put it up to … i think it was 15%?
a lot of shops just ate the difference on a lot of their products. those that didn’t shunted things up to the next round number. life went on.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

pretty much this.
and have a fixed time after which the banks will stop Taking the bills, too (except the relevant central one) to discourage people from just hording the things anyway and make it impractical for shops to keep accepting the bills as well. (without essentually stealing their money).

interesting bit of terminology: here abouts a bill is what you get telling you how much you owe. a cheque (check, for the Americans reading this) is as in chequebook. a paper precursor to debit cards, essentially. the cash is a note.

AgentCharmichael (profile) says:

On the plus side, I?ll never again have to try to get a vending machine to accept my wrinkly dollar bill. On the other hand, most vending machines will probably just think my dollar coin is a quarter. Maybe we can just fit them with debit card readers and do away with all our paper money and coins. Really, I use my debit card just about everywhere, why do I need to carry around cash? Person-to-person transactions still typically use cash, but I assume it?s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace to use our smart phones to transfer money between accounts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Technology can come up with a solution for this eventually. Short term solutions won’t be there, you’re right. But eventually… Maybe something like an anonymized escrow system is the most obvious. Of course the politicians would have a tizzy fit over this because it could be used to hide all sorts of financial transactions – conveniently ignoring that cash lets people do that today.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Still, I’d imagine that US public resistance can be stronger than elsewhere on issues that are fundamentally meaningless, but to which people apply a sentimental value”

A line like that makes me think Mike has never been to England.
I swear to you that there is no public anywhere in the world to resists rational change more than them.
This is a country where the legislature cannot sit, unless a man brings a special mace into parliament.

A people who resisted changing their money for a rational system
“Two farthings = One Ha’penny. Two ha’pennies = One Penny. Three pennies = A Thrupenny Bit. Two Thrupences = A Sixpence. Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob. Two Bob = A Florin. One Florin and one Sixpence = Half a Crown. Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note. Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies). One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.
The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated.” – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

A country where metrication was proposed by an English man in 1668, was discussed regularly in parliament from 1818, which eventually started a formal process of metrication in 1965, which led to starting to actually use metric weights in 1980 in a process that completed in 2000 but still causes outrage and who have no road signs or official measures of distance in metric after what you might view as 440 years, 190 years, or 45 years of trying, in fact in 2006 they actually abandoned long standing plans of putting roadsigns with metric distances .

England is a country in which petrol is sold in litres,
but fuel consumption is quoted in miles per gallon.

They do also give temperatures in Centigrade, unless its hot in which case they use Fahrenheit because it sounds so much higher than the metric equivalent.

If anyone wants to claim that the people of any other country are more pointlessly stubborn, the English have set the bar and some considerable evidence would be needed to justify the claim to be more resistant to any kind of change than they are.

Greg G (profile) says:

Sorry, I want my paper $1’s. When I do have cash on hand, I really don’t want to be weighed down by $1 coins.

approx 1 gram for the linen/cotten $1 bill vs. approx 8.1 grams for the coins. 8x the weight. You do the math. Not only the weight, but the bulkiness of coins compared to the value carried is ridiculous.

Good thing I use my debit card more than I carry cash.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

standard solution here has been ‘so be smarter about the units you carry’. people carry a stack of 20 notes, plus or minus a few 50s, 10s, and 5s depending on age, reason, budget, etc., and enough coins to make change. (if you’re carrying more than about $10 in coins, and ~half that in silver, you’re doing it wrong!)

and there’s no real need to get coins out of the bank, you get a nice stash of ’em just from getting change when you buy stuff with notes.

also: debit cards.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

oh, and by ‘silver’ i mean coins valued in cents. until recently all our cent coins were silver colour, and dollar coins gold colour. (currently the ten cent coin is more of a copper colour, and when we still had them the 1 and 2 cent coins were also. the 5c went away at the same time we switched the colour of the ten cent.)

also, i am aware that an NZ dollar is worth less than a US dollar… so replace all those values in my above post with the next one down if necessary

Mark Christiansen says:

Ditch Pennies

It is high time one cent coins went away. Round to the nearest 5c, post prices with tax included, lots of ways to handle it just do it. The things waste our time. It is not uncommon to find owner operated stores rounding to 5c in the customer’s favor. The big chains do everything to the penny.

Coins up to $20 would be nice. At least do $1 and $5.

I don’t like the trend of making everything plastic. Cash is nice and fast. We don’t have to make every transaction go through banks.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Make dollar coin so that it doesn't look like a quarter

My biggest complaint with the SBA and gold dollar coin is that they are too similar to a quarter.

You will also find that dollar coins are very common in US cities that have transit systems based on dollar coins. People can adapt pretty easily if the market is flooded with the coins and there is a practical use for them.

After I come home from one of those cities I usually have several days of amusement as I unload the dollar coins on unsuspecting clerks in my hometown who are using the extra bin in their cash register to hold keys or paperclips or something other than dollar coins.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Make dollar coin so that it doesn't look like a quarter

the NZ dollar coin is ~the same size as our 20c piece… but 2-3 times as thick,a completely different colour, and with completely different edging.

(actually, originally they had the same picture on them and everything. difference was colour, and not much else to the casual observer. weight, edging, and actual value on the coin were always different, of course.
oh, added bonus? if you ever track down an old NZ florin… you can still turn it into the bank for it’s face value… of 20c. (it had the same picture on it too.)

(apparently when the change over was made, the new dollar was worth a half pound, rendering the florin=20c conversion near perfect.)

more amusing is the NZ/Aus dollar coin issue. basically for some weird reason Australian two dollar coins are about the size of NZ one dollar coins (the NZ dollar being worth less than the Aus dollar aside).

so, you can actually stick NZ$1 coins in Australian vending machines (well, older ones at least) and they’ll treat it as an Australian $2 coin.

also, Australian 50c coins are not round.

Comboman (profile) says:

Hang onto your singles boys!

Having lived through the Canadian transition from one (and two) dollar bills to heavy coins I can tell you that the only reason there wasn’t more complaining is because we were already moving to more debit/credit card transactions at the time; something which makes the banks rich on transaction fees and encourages people to spend more than they have (we all know the effect that had on the economy). So to my American neighbours, I recommend holding on to your singles as long as you can (besides, strippers get angry when you stick coins in their panties).

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

substantually more… on the other hand it would have fit in your pockets more easily.

on the third hand if your friend is paying you that much:
a; why the hell did he have that many dollar notes? seriously, go to the bank some time! ask for change in more reasonable units. actually USE them instead of constantly paying in large notes and getting change back and then not doing anything with it.
b; why on Earth did he pay you in single dollar notes rather than 20s or something?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Having lived through the Canadian transition from one (and two) dollar bills to heavy coins…

The US tried to introduce a $2 bill on more than one occasion. The problem was that there is some sort of superstition that says if you rip the corner off a $2 bill it will bring you good luck. Our $2 bills kept getting smaller from the corners inward.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

The US tried to introduce a $2 bill on more than one occasion.

Actually, according to a couple different sources, $2 bills are still in use. However, because of their unpopularity, banks and businesses don’t usually give them as change unless they’re specifically asked for. They’re also printed in much lower volumes than other denominations.

The problem with $1 coins is that the old ones are too big and heavy and the newer ones are too similar to the quarter.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, according to a couple different sources, $2 bills are still in use. However, because of their unpopularity,….

Their unpopularity is due to the same superstition, I believe. (I’m recalling this off the top of my head here and might not have been 100% correct in my earlier comment).

If I am remembering correctly now, the superstition was that if someone gave you a $2 bill it was unlucky for you and to counteract that bad luck you were supposed to tear off a corner of the bill.

Joe Cash says:

Re: Re: dollar coin solutions

The problem with $1 coins is that the old ones are too big and heavy and the newer ones are too similar to the quarter.

There’s a fairly easy fix for that. Make dollar coins a different shape. I know that it would be odd to have a square coin, and triangular coins might be plain dangerous, but a hexagonal, even octagonal coin would have a different enough handfeel to differentiate it.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: dollar coin solutions

or, you know, make them out of a different metal like most sane places so they are an entirely and noticeably different colour and weight.

or punch a hole in the middle like some places do… then, hey, don’t even need a wallet. a bit of string’ll do the job!

seriously, they don’t have to be That different to tell them apart. (also note: the other way to make the weight difference more obvious is to issue new coins for the lower values as well, which are Lighter. NZ did this recently. this lets you make your dollars lighter as well while still being noticeably heavier than your cents. not that NZ did that bit. our dollar coins aren’t that heavy to begin with.)

AgentCharmichael (profile) says:

On the plus side, I?ll never again have to try to get a vending machine to accept my wrinkly dollar bill. On the other hand, most vending machines will probably just think my dollar coin is a quarter. Maybe we can just fit them with debit card readers and do away with all our paper money and coins. Really, I use my debit card just about everywhere, why do I need to carry around cash? Person-to-person transactions still typically use cash, but I assume it?s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace to use our smart phones to transfer money between accounts.

jenningsthecat (profile) says:

As a Canadian, I despise One Dollar and Two Dollar coins

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘sentimental value’ that Mike mentioned. The fact is, it’s very easy to accumulate 5, 7, or more ones and/or twos in a day. Now if these are sheets of paper in a wallet, no problem – but if they’re big coins in your pocket, the weight and bulk quickly add up. Then the tendency is to chuck’em in a drawer at night to lighten the load, resulting in an informal, inadvertent, and perhaps undesirable piggy bank effect.

In my view, the Aussies got it right. Their bills are plastic, so they’re nearly impossible to tear, are immune to inadvertent laundering, (of the soapy kind), and still fit into a wallet.

I advise Americans to fight to the death to keep their dollar bills. If I could substitute folding money for Loonies and Twonies, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: As a Canadian, I despise One Dollar and Two Dollar coins

good lord. you consider something maybe two centimeters across and certainly less than 5mm thick ‘big’? a screwed up note is bigger! I’d dread to see what you’d have thought of our old 50c coins here… or pound coins. (or our two dollar coins which are a bit bigger)

mind you, if they’re proposing dollar coins that actually ARE impractically large, then whoever’s proposing it needs a quick whack around the head and to be replaced for their trouble.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: As a Canadian, I despise One Dollar and Two Dollar coins

should be noted, we did the same thing as the Australians with our bills.

what you’ll find tends to happen is that people very quickly get in the habit of actually Using their change rather than hording it. (mind you, here abouts if one got dollar notes at the rate one gets dollar coins… let’s just say it’s fairly common for people to walk around with a couple of hundred dollars in $20 notes in their wallets. that’s a Full Wallet. add in all the ones and twos one would have that are in coin form in a separate section of one’s wallet (and don’t have to Bend!) and it starts getting quite ridiculous.

of course there’s also plenty of people who walk around with no cash on them at all and just their debit card.

a mixture is more likely, mind you.

only time i see the sort of numbers of coins people are complaining about here is in a shop’s till. no one Actually carries that many (or pays someone in single dollars when a stack of 20s and 50s makes more sense.)

jenningsthecat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: As a Canadian, I despise One Dollar and Two Dollar coins

I use change as often as practical, and debit cards help to keep the amount of change down. But it’s still easy to end up with too many one- and two-dollar coins. Two trips to a drive-through, (too difficult to fish around for change while belted into a car seat), and one or two store purchases, (where the line-up behind me is long enough that I don’t take the time to dig change out from among keys, USB sticks, etc.), and I’m overloaded with Loonies and Twonies.

I’d like to see plastic folding money, (not as long-lasting as coins but much more durable than paper), with the cost difference being made up by eliminating the annoying and useless penny.

jenningsthecat (profile) says:

Re: Re: As a Canadian... the size of the coin

For me it’s not so much about the size, (although our Twonie is rather stupidly large), it’s about the weight of several of them in a pocket that already contains keys and other change.

As for the old 50-cent pieces, at least in Canada these were MUCH less common that one- and two-dollar coins are today.

james b (profile) says:

reasons for 99 cent price.

The reason for the .99, 1.99, and such, was to force slaes clerks to make change. It was found (as I recall somewhere in the 1890’s) that sales clerks were simply pocketing the $1 given to purchase a $1 dollar item, leaving no trail. The cash register would ring when opened, therefore the store owner wanted a way to force them to open the cash register. Thus the .99 price tag which required change.
The people who hang on to the imperial measurement and the paper money are sure that the 1890’s are coming back. We will all ride in horse and buggy and earn out living with our hands, working in the fields while wearing sandals and singing folk songs.
The 1890’s are not coming back, and there are electronic systems to monitor our honesty. Price things at 1,2,5,10,20 and 50 and the idea of coins makes complete sense.
I remember that the excuse for not changing to the metric system in the 70’s was that industry would have to re-tool and lose profit. Well industry has re-tooled at least 10 times since the 1970’s and we still buy the same excuses.

HrilL says:

Re: Re:

Maybe because they had a lack of choice in the matter. Once the bills are gone you’re then forced to use coins. I hate coins. Why don’t we replace our paper(cloth) money with stronger plastic money like Australia uses. Its way harder to rip probably a lot harder to counterfeit and it has to last longer because of those 2 factors.

HrilL says:

I hate change.

Coins plain out right suck. I don’t want to have to carry them. I don’t like them and if places have tip jars I rid myself of them. I’ve left 24 cents in take a penny give a penny bins because I’ll most likely lose the change in my car or the next time I sit down and I don’t want it in my wallet nor do I have a place for it in there. Sure I probably lose about $10 in change and year but I don’t care. I also hate $1 bills. They make my wallet too bulky and I don’t like that. Only place those are good for is a strip club and in those cases I’ll just get them there. The Strippers cash them out anyway so those same ones circulate in that same club for years.

Rob (profile) says:

Get rid of the $1 bill, the penny and the nickel.

Keep the granularity of transactions to the penny for electronic transactions, but for cash round everything to the nearest $0.10 and make the smallest coin a 10-cent piece.

I was recently in New Zealand where that technique is in use and it works wonderfully. They have $0.10, $0.20, $0.50, $1 and $2 coins.

In our case, it would be easy to go for $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, $1 and add in a new $2 coin.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Get rid of the $1 bill, the penny and the nickel.

to be fair, New Zealand originally had 1, 2, and 5 cent pieces as well. inflation’s just rendered them all but valueless and debit cards etc cover all the issues where they matter, so they became a needless expense and were discontinued.

(oh: it kinda helps that our central reserve bank is an actual government entity, not independent. it’s separate, so far as i can tell, in the same way the judiciary is separate, but it’s still a government entity. ‘course, the coins are still minted in canada these days.)

JeffR says:

Stop circulating the Susan B.

To me, the main issue that has caused reluctance in using the golden dollar coins that were relatively recently introduced is that if you go to the bank and ask for a roll of dollar coins, you do not just get golden dollars.

They are a mix of golden dollars and Susan B. Anthony dollars.. and while the golden dollars are easy to distinguish, the Susan B. dollars are far to similar to quarters for use by the general public.

Stop circulating the Susan B. and the acceptance rate of dollar coins will increase.

Anonymous Coward says:

Non tipping friendly@

I used to go to Canada to the “Ballet” and was fine since my US dollars were more valuable as Tips to the “Ballerinas”. Then a disturbing thing happened, the Canadian paper money went away and loonies soon became the tip of choice. What’s a “Ballerina” to do, with so little costume, just a “garter belt” to contain the tips, the coins soon became problematic!

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Non tipping friendly@

i believe the standard solution to this was to either implement a system of paying tips using a debit card at the door on the way out, or do like a lot of ‘not the USA’ countries do for restaurants, and just pay the staff in question properly in the first place, increase the entry fee and toss the practice of tipping all together.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: How do they know they'll save over time?

swiss silver is good. worth too much to be practical for regular small transactions without eliminating all the factors that go into ensuring that it actually is what it says it is, purity wise, but a good basis.

(the main reason anyone makes a ‘profit’ on silver, by the by, is massive inflation of the ‘currency’ used to buy and sell it. the rest is increasing demand for it’s practical applications.)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

… good grief, do you people not understand the concept of a wallet?

or has some bit of madness lead to wallets with No Coin Compartment?

if so, there’s a nice niche market for someone to exploit. just… don’t do the standard thing of putting divisions and such in the coin section… all it does is cause them to get stuck or end up down the sides and falling out when you open it. (usually a side effect of the zip starting somewhere on the bottom, going all the way up the side, over the top, back down the other side, and under the bottom edge again, leading to a need to have something to stop the thing just hinging open completely and dumping all your coins on the ground. there’s gotta be a better design than this though.)

Miff (profile) says:

I’m pretty sure every state has some kind of sales tax on whatever you buy anyways. For this example, I’m going by Alabama tax rates of 8% of everything.

A $.99 item plus an 8% sales tax would be $1.07, a $1.00 item plus the same tax would be $1.08.

It’s A) not much of a difference once tax is counted in, and B) prices wouldn’t even be coming to even dollar ammounts anyways.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

… an issue solved in NZ by a process that so far as i can tell goes something like this: product cost x. nearest round number above x is y. if we sell it as y and treat that as the after tax value, then deduct the tax from it, we get z money. if z is greater than x by enough to cover costs and make profit, then price the item at y. otherwise repeat with different y value.

it’s probably nothing of the sort, but it sure seems like it given the tendency of customers to just hand over 20 dollar notes and not get change unless they bought a whole bunch of little things. even then it’s not unusual to get a ‘buy three and get a dollar off’ deal to end up with round numbers again.

of course, y can’t be too large compared to the actual value of the item, so you do still get oddly priced things… but they’re typically things you wouldn’t just buy individually, and the total gets rounded to the nearest 10c if you pay cash anyway… and people tend to use debit cards for buying expensive stuff (as opposed to lots of less expensive things)…

all of which comes down to ‘yeah, most of the time your change is going to be in coins worth less than a dollar, especially as you’ll tend to pay for things where it otherwise might not be using the dollars in the first place’

of course, again, the fact that the NZ dollar is worth less than the US dollar plays a part here.

(i kinda wondered why, when they ditched the 5c coin here, they didn’t just revalue everything so our old 10c became a 1c, $1 became 10c, and $10 became $1. they replaced everything but the 1 and 2 dollar coins over the course of a couple of years Anyway, all sorts of things track fractions of cents electronically already even if transactions beyond tax, interest, oil, and exchange rates don’t tend to Use them… so why not? would make more sense.

probably would have been a bigger deal to make the changeover if they had though… and odds are good that we’ll end up losing the 10c to inflation within the next 30 years (if the loss of the smaller coins is anything to go by)… meh *shrugs*

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Ok heads up this one is big news.

There is a trial going on about an alternative currency fiasco. Theres over 100 names subpoenaed for this including Ron Paul.

The full story you can get here. I also suggest checking out the Alternative Currency organization(which will be out of business if we ever kill the FED)business on a barter(grain,ounce,ect silver) with over thousands of businesses already in the system.

Two links the first is the story, the second is a bit of satire on the FED and your money in reality, enough that a 4 year old can grasp the concept.


Suggest you check out it out. Oh and Mike feel free to cover the trial I’m curious on what you can highlight out of it considering this article.

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