I'll never convince a credit-card wielding American, but shopping with cash in a country like Switzerland is great!  I'll admit that I love the convenience of credit cards, mostly for online purchases, buying gas (drive in, swipe the card, pump, go), and the neatly organized monthly statements.  And, of course, never worrying about having enough cash at the grocery store.

That last is part of the problem.  With cash, I see the exact cost of what I'm buying.  There's something visceral about handing over the bills and coins.  The money I had, I no longer have.  And if I don't have enough, I have to put something back on the shelves and buy it later, or never.  I have no statistics to back up my assertion, but I'm absolutely certain that I spend more money, more freely, since we moved away from making most of our purchases with cash.

What's especially nice about using cash in Switzerland, however, is their system of coins and currency.  The smallest bill is the 10-franc note; coins come in 5-, 2-, 1 and 1/2-franc denominations, plus 20-, 10- and 5-rappen (cents).  Note that there is no 1-rappen coin.  This makes calculations very easy, especially since any taxes are hidden in the price of the item.  What you see is what you pay.  With only multiples of five to worry about, it's very easy to keep a running total of the cost of what's in my cart.  Therefore, before the checkout clerk has finished scanning my items, I know what the total is going to be, and with what combination of bills and coins I plan to pay.  And I know exactly how much change I should receive.

I find that extremely satisfying.  I'm not good enough with mental arithmetic to bother with it at home.  Let's see: 14.88 plus 5.54; that's uh, um, oh something more than $20.  Hmmm, should I buy orange juice at $3.99 or grapefruit at $3.85?  How much are tomatoes per pound today?  Do we need mayonnaise?  Oh, bother, I've forgotten the total.  And even if I remember it, I know that when the clerk is done ringing up my order, she's going to add an awkward 7% sales tax, but only to certain items, and I'm never sure just which ones.  So I meekly hand over my credit card and hope every part of the system is honest, accurate, and not broken down.

Cash - multples of five - clear pricing.  What an empowering combination!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 6:50 am | Edit
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Two things - first the tax in Seminole county is now 6%, as the 1 cent option expired at the end of 2011.
Second, I'm not so sure the US merchants would stop pricing with the odd endings, after all gas is still priced in tenths of a cent despite being nearly $4 a gallon now. I think they'd just do one round up, or down, of the total.

Posted by Dad-o on Thursday, February 09, 2012 at 11:23 am
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