Posted by: thezedword | October 10, 2008

Wait, you owe me a penny!

For a while they’ve been arguing in the States about whether or not it’d be practical to get rid of pennies. They’re worth less than the cost to print them, people throw them away or collect them in a can anyways, and they’re too easy to swallow. Well, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand went crazy and just stopped doing the whole penny thing. The Swedes did it first thirty-six years ago. They started rounding up the monetary cost of a purchase to the closest unity of physical currency, so if a candy bar cost 2.98 ore, they said, “Gissa vad, nu den kostnaden tre ore!!”

A five-dollar penguin bill

A five-dollar penguin bill

In the early ’90s, the Kiwis and Aussies started to do Swedish rounding also. If something in the cents column ends in one, two, six or seven, you round down. If the cents ends in three, four, eight or nine, then you round up. I first learned this when we bought bean bag refill beans for the bean bag our land lady gave us. The refill beans were priced $8.99. I gave the cashier $9 and received no change. She did it so casually, I was too embarrassed to ask for my penny. Our friends Mable and Philip later explained the whole Swedish rounding thing, so that helped fend off any future confusion.

A blue fifty-dollar bill

A blue fifty-dollar bill

And you can easily launder money here. Because it’s plastic. (You thought I was doing illegal things, didn’t you.) Yes, the money is plastic, different sizes and different colors, so blind and easily bored people can still use it. There are no one or two dollar bills here either. Instead, they use coins for everything $2 and less. Needless to say, you need to be careful when you’re giving bums money, or they could really clean you out.

A two-dollar piece

A two-dollar piece



  1. I want to comment about so many things you write that I almost fell like I should write a blog about it! Do you think I should?

    Here in Brazil we rarely use the 1-cent coin (we don’t have a name for each coin, we just say the value of them), although it still exists. That was a pain at college when the xerox was 6 cents, so each “penny” is actually a lot (20%)!

  2. You are such a gifted writer. Well written but reader friendly.

  3. I’d like to point out that that last comment was written by my mother, my biggest fan. Time Magazine, if you are reading this, feel free to use her as a professional and/or character reference.

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