Pennies, Plastic, Personal Debt

In a moment of rarity I decided to order takeout for dinner instead of getting started on box 3 of pasta of the week. The total for half a chicken and a side of a baked potato came to $13.88. Please don’t judge me on how much I paid for this meal, I was on the cusp of fainting after running for a full 30 minutes for the first time in over 9 weeks. I handed the girl at the takeout desk a nice green twenty and got a pretty blue paper five, a dull Loonie, and a shiny dime back. $6.10.

I felt very robbed of 2 cents.

I had wanted to give the girl at the counter exact change but I just didn’t have it on me since the coin compartment of my wallet is apparently bulimic and has a hobby of leaving my floor covered in change. I was very tempted to pull out my debit or credit card to complete the transaction because I didn’t want to be a victim of this new no-penny situation.  But I am someone who fears debit and credit card usage on small purchases because they add up to big amounts without any notice. I don’t want to be like a former roommate who somehow went over her limit.

Later in the night I pulled out a number of receipts from my bag. $6.83 for a few necessities at the grocery store. $10. 88 at a eatery in Kensington. $2.73 at a local bakery. Each time I was short-changed by 2 cents because of this no-penny situation. Going through the pile of receipts in my bag, I have been short changed 5:1.

When Harper announced the end to the Canadian penny he said it was to save money as the penny is not exactly the most popular currency piece and it costs more than it is worth. This I will not argue on. But I wonder if that is the only reason as to why the penny was dismissed.

I get the feeling the dismissal of the penny is a subtle push to a more plastic society. Who doesn’t want to save 2 cents when all you have to do is pull out that pretty plastic card? Positives include potential lower blackmarket activity which is often conducted via paper currency. But this push worries me because it is just so easy to use plastic and forget that swipe (or two, or three) is actually connected to that declining to red amount of your bank account or debt account. These plastic cards are linked to what seems to be an unlimited amount of spending money, until you receive that bill in the mail or when your debit card is declined.

I have watched individuals have their credit cards or debit cards declined at cash registers. They only shook their heads, shrugged their shoulders, muttered a slightly embarrassed apology for holding up the line because they forgot this card was the maxed out one, and then handed over a new credit card to pay for purchases. It seems like this red line is crossed on a regular basis.

Canadian personal debt is already at a all time high. I get the feeling that this level will only increase with the extinction of the penny and the rise of the plastic.

Of course, I’m only a pissed-off student raving at 3 am because they got robbed of 2 cents earlier in the day. One who also just paid off their credit card bill for the previous month and realized how many purchases were entered to avoid being robbed from a few precious cents.

 

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One Response to Pennies, Plastic, Personal Debt

  1. Smile says:

    haha yeah, I know how you feel. I always use plastic here, because they don’t have actual money for cents here…so everything is rounded. Although sometimes, I wish I had cash, so I could pay when it rounds down =P But that’s just me being super nerdy =P

    I’ve also had that damn it, no money on the card happen to me a few times here. But it works differently here. You have 2 accounts, a spending and a saving, and all cards are debit. The debit is ONLY linked to the spending account. It’s really frustrating when you’re used to having credit and you forget to put another $2.00 or so into your spending account and everything is declined…Luckily, in a small town, people are really nice, and I’ve been told “its ok, just come back tomorrow” because they see me all the time, they know where I work and so they believe me when I say I have the money =P

    I dunno though, I like the whole plastic thing – I spend cash faster when I have it in my hand. I think more before I swipe cards =P

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