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Change is Inevitable

2011 September 12

Change is inevitable, or is it?

If referring to life changes, I think it goes without saying. Change is constant.

If you are looking to get money back from your Philippine Peso, it isn’t a given.

It is remarkable to me how difficult it can be to get change at times in the Philippines. It doesn’t seem to matter the cost of the item or service, or necessarily the amount you provide to pay. Unless you have exact change, there is a good chance you are going to receive a response ranging from dismay to disgust. Particularly if the amount you are trying to pay with exceeds the cost by a good amount. I have not been able to come up with that magic ratio yet, but there appears to be one.

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When in the Philippines I find myself exchanging every bill over 20 pesos at every conceivable opportunity. If possible I carry a bulging pocket full of coins to cover all possible encounters. Those silly portions of a peso (centavo) really mess me up though. Unfortunately only a few transactions, and it’s likely I’ll be stressing about having enough change for the trike or jeepney again. Paying 500 pesos for a trike ride is really painful to me.

I find it difficult to adapt my thinking in this area, as at home I do just the opposite. I get rid of change every chance I get. More often than not I don’t even have any money on me whatsoever, as I use a debit card for practically all my transactions. It’s simpler for me and I have a record of it all, too.

I doubt in my lifetime that the trikes, jeepneys, palengke vendors, local bread shops, or virtually any other small businesses will be accepting debit cards in the Philippines. It’s a cash society and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

At times I find myself tipping more, so I can keep my change. Other times, I don’t tip at all because they don’t have change or I need to keep what I have for the next transaction. It all takes a lot more thought than I’m used to giving to these matters.

What it means is I’ll be carrying a bulging pocket full of coins and a wallet of bills much thicker than would make reasonable sense on most excursions. That is at least until I can come up with a better strategy than I have thus far.

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Randy Countryman permalink*
    September 12, 2011

    It’s 11:00 am, I’m not tired yet!

  2. Randy Countryman permalink*
    September 12, 2011

    I’m home. Just mentally somewhere else.

  3. Randy Countryman permalink*
    September 13, 2011

    That would be Rick. I’ve never smoked.

  4. rick countryman permalink
    September 12, 2011

    It takes a little time to build up, but at some point you’ll have a large pot of coins. Supplement it with a half dozen 100php bills, and you’ll be covered for most events. I don’t bother to stash 20s and 50s. I carry mostly 5 and 10 php coins and only when I know I will spend change. Now that I stopped smoking, I’ll need to fine tune the apporach a little as I’m not spending as much change. Cigs are 2 pieces for 5 or 6.

    Wait until you get 500 in 20s for change. Your motivation for having small change will increase, especially when you have to wait for the multiple countings…

  5. September 12, 2011

    Go to sleep!

  6. September 12, 2011

    Yes, I can see the value of having a coin jar or pot. It seems I spend them as fast as I get them, so I’m not sure how long it’ll take to build one up.

    I see myself taking a lot of trikes and jeepneys, and they are between 7 and 20+ pesos, depending on where I would be going. I find the 20 peso bill to be quite handy for those, especially the jeepeney or multiple people on the trike.

    I’ll get a routine down, it might take awhile to figure it out though.

  7. September 12, 2011

    Where are you????

  8. September 13, 2011

    What have you been smoking my friend?

  9. September 13, 2011

    Did u quit smoking or Rick?

  10. September 13, 2011

    Been a long while since we’ve hung out, so didnt know if it was something you took up! Didnt u have a pic with a pipe in ur mouth?!?!?

  11. Gabriel B permalink
    October 5, 2013

    this is similar to your other post but i’ll give another two cents about change. Everytime I go to the atm, I purposely get an amount that ends in 400 or 900. The reason why I do that is so I can get as many 100 peso bills as I can. It is not that difficult to understand that this country needs SMALLER bills. nobody in this country even makes 500 pesos in one day, so why the heck are they printing up so many 500s and 1000s?

    The smaller bill issue is only one of a few things that irk me about this country.

    Other things that irk me are the people that cut in line, the drivers who don’t obey the traffic laws, the jaywalkers, the people who litter, the list goes on.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Philippines, but the Philippines has to change.

    • October 6, 2013

      Yes, a related issue for sure. Though it does amaze how everyone wants your coins, no matter the size of the sale. They almost always ask for the peso, so they can give you back bills. It makes it difficult to keep coins for the tricycle and jeepney rides. I need to make a concerted effort to always have coins on hand.

      Littering has been the one that seems to bug me the most lately, though I agree the others bother me, too. I asked someone recently why the beauty pageants were such a big deal and they said, “pride of country”. I asked, “so why do you throw your trash everywhere?” and got a blank stare.

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