Can I keep the change?

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound.

Charli mentioned a variety of rattling sounds:

  • Hail – “Balls of ice the size of frozen peas” rattling on her RV

(Here’s a video of some pea-sized hail dancing in my garden recently.)

  • Political divisions and discussions, with each side clamouring to be heard but only sounding “like discordant hail on a fiberglass roof”

(Remember that saying about “Empty vessels make the most noise?”)

plato-empty-vessels

  • The saber-rattling incident in Chilean history “when a group of young military officers protested against the political class and the postponement of social measures by rattling their sabers within their scabbards.”

In her prompt, Charli suggests that the rattling sound could be “an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy.”

I thought of the rattle of coins – reasonably familiar in my childhood, less so now.

australian-imperial-coins

When I was a child, most transactions involved the use of cash – notes and coins. Back then, before the introduction of decimal currency just over fifty years ago, we had pounds, shillings and pence.

Decimal currency certainly made calculations easier but, though I remember my mother occasionally writing a cheque, transactions were still made mainly with cash.

I am from a large family and the finances didn’t stretch to pocket money. However, I do remember the occasional threepence to spend at the shop beside the school. I think they may have been gifts from the “tooth fairy”. How we agonised over which sweets to buy – maybe a rosy apple, four aniseed balls and some musk sticks.

Occasionally we might find a coin in the sand at the playground or beach, or be gifted one or two from an aunt, uncle or grandparent. Sometimes, when sent to the shop for bread or milk, we’d ask if we could keep the change. Sometimes the answer was “Yes”!

Although the anticipation of a purchase was heightened by the sound of a couple of coins jingling in a pocket or purse, we were also keen on saving them toward future desires.

The money box most of us had back then was a tin replica of the Commonwealth Bank’s head office in Sydney.  The clink of coins being added to the box was music to our ears, as was their rattle as we shook it to determine how full it might be and how much we may have saved.

The trouble with these money boxes was twofold:

  1. It was impossible to do anything with them quietly, and
  2. It was practically impossible to extricate any coins once they were in. The tins could only be opened with a tin opener! Sometimes, with the right tool, the opening could be widened and one or two coins could be removed, but the shaking and rattling required was a real give-away.

How different it is for children today. Not only are many transactions made using credit or debit cards, many purchases are made online. No cash, no “money” is seen to exchange hands.

Nonetheless, it is still important for children to understand monetary values and to be able to calculate the cost of items. I think it is good for children to have pocket money for which they can make decisions regarding spending or saving. The ability to save up for something, to delay gratification, is an important part of maturation. I wonder how many of today’s children are sent to the store on their own and, if so, whether they can keep the change.

The use of technology means that even cashiers (is that term also becoming outdated, like hanging up the phone?) are no longer required to calculate. The register does that for them. Yes, they do have to count out the change, but that involves little calculation.

With the changing values, too, Australia no longer has one or two cent coins. Five cents is the lowest denomination, and I doubt that a child could buy anything with just one, not even an aniseed ball or a musk stick. I wonder how long before it too disappears.

While online shopping, and paying with cards and phones is becoming commonplace, it is still important for children to handle, recognise, and become familiar with money. They need to be able to compare the value of coins and notes, and perform calculations with them. It is important for children to realise that a greater number of coins doesn’t necessarily mean more money.

australian-coins

The images on the coins and notes also provide an opportunity for learning about our Australian animals and significant people and events in our history. Perhaps in the lifetimes of today’s children, coins and notes will go the way of our Imperial currency and become simply items in a museum and history lessons.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I have gone back to the days of coins rattling in pockets and money boxes, when thinking of the wonderful things that a few coins could buy was pure delight.

Can I keep the change?

With the string bag slung over his shoulder and the purse clutched tight, he was on his first big boy errand. And, he could keep the change. He rattled the purse. What possibilities awaited. Should he hurry to get the money, or dawdle and contemplate? Regardless, he got there soon enough.

He handed the purse to Mrs Kramer, who extracted the list and gathered the items. As she counted the coins into the till, he announced, “I can keep the change.” She peered over her glasses, then held out one large brown coin. He trembled: what could he choose?

australian-imperial-penny

A penny for your thoughts!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

56 thoughts on “Can I keep the change?

  1. Bec Colvin

    Reading about the money box brought back so many memories! I vaguely remember a tin money box, but more vividly I recall a large red ladybird beetle money box which I loved shaking, opening, counting, and re-adding the coins. Thanks for the nice memory. Teaching kids about money is very important I am sure! I heard recently that while Sweden has discussed becoming a “cash-less society”, many people are quite attached to the notes as items representing national pride as, like our notes, they show remarkable people and notable places. Interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I remember that ladybird beetle money box! I wonder what happened to it. It was gorgeous. It will be interesting to see how quickly we move to a cashless society. I’m sure with each passing year the transition will become easier, despite the history of the notes.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. julespaige

    So far, we still have a penny coin – though I think its’ days are numbered.
    The sad bit is all too often with a younger cashier – they depend on the computer of the register to give change (and are often surprised when cash is used) – Give coins to round up to the nearest dime or quarter and they get flummoxed – never being taught how to properly count back change.

    I like where you took this prompt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Jules. I have noticed those same things here. Well, I did when I used cash. I rarely use it now. I did collect quite a few one cent coins when I was in NY. Our smallest coin is now the 5 cent piece. I didn’t think you’d let the one cent go, but I’m sure it wouldn’t buy much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. julespaige

        Not sure why the one cent piece is still around. As it isn’t cost effective to make it. But in retail if something is on sale a certain way it ends either .08 or .09.

        There is a store here called Five Below (closest you’ll get to a five and dime type story anymore) but the catch is that everything is 5 dollars or bellow. There are some Dollar Stores. But I can’t think of anything that one could get for 1-4 cents. Much less a nickel.

        I remember growing up and the pay phone was still a dime. Now the pay phone if you can fine one is .50 (and that’s only for the first three minutes I think).

        There are still groups trying to get rid of the penny. I think there are too many folks still shy of computers to let go of cash all together. But there will come a time when no cash exists for anyone. Maybe in a few generations.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          I don’t know if we still have .99 cent sales. I’ll have to check it out. I know if paying cash, the amount is (or was) rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents; but if paying by card the exact amount is (or was) charged.
          Pay phones. You’re right. They’ve almost disappeared, haven’t they? Now everyone is walking around with a phone attached to a hand.
          I won’t be surprised if cash is pretty much obsolete in my lifetime. But, of course, that depends on how long I live. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
            1. Norah Post author

              I am starting to move towards ebooks for many purchases now; and rarely use cash. I’d be lost without internet banking and EFTPOS. I’ve surprised even myself, but it’s so convenient. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              Reply
              1. julespaige

                I actually have no paper with my bank now (except their ads) – but I haven’t been pro active in being active. Since there once was an issue with bank cards – I just started getting cash for things like groceries. I, so far do very little purchasing on line. But I have a different card for that…

                I’m just very cautious about computer safety. And have had some issues with viruses. So that makes me even more jittery.

                Liked by 1 person

                Reply
                1. Norah Post author

                  I think it’s wise to be cautious. I only use internet banking on secure networks (not public networks) and generally use PayPal for purchases.
                  I understand your being jittery if you have had viruses.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  Reply
  3. roughwighting

    Kids should learn how to savor the little cash that they have, and to spend it wisely (or at least on something they most desire), as you show in your story. Our 7-year-old grandson saves cans and bottles. When he has enough, my guy and I take him to the recycling place, where he places each can and bottle slowy – it’s a long process – and gets some change in return. The last time it was $4.50 (and that was a lot of cans and bottles!). Then we took him to the toy store, where he could pick out anything he wanted – for $4.50. This day and age, there’s not a lot you can get for $4.50. HIs mom (my daughter) wanted me to supplement what he earned, but I think he had a better time figuring out what he could buy with HIS OWN MONEY that he earned. It took about an hour in that store (excruciating!!) 🙂 but he went away happy with his new little toy, and a sense of self-esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing the story about your grandson, Pam. I’m sure he learned more and felt more proud of himself spending only the money he earned for himself. I’m sure his choices were limited. I’m amazed that bottles and cans can still be collected and “sold” for money. We used to do it in our childhood days. It was a great source of pocket money, but the practice died out years ago. There is no longer a deposit or return on such items, but most shopping centres have recycle bins for them at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Steven

          5 cents per can is gold! I suspect the practice died because it became unviable for pocket money. It is going to change later this year, but NSW does not have a container deposit scheme. Our local Scout group happened to be offered a whole batch of aluminium cans (probably about 40 x 60L garbage bags worth – think small caravan size) from a local club so we thought it was a good opportunity to see if it was worthwhile. However payment for cans is at the commodity rate for the metal – about $0.90 per kilogram as of a few months ago for Aluminium.. I remember estimating the number of cans, Googling the average weight of a can and finding out that the return was something lowly. I don’t remember what it was, but think something along the lines of 0.05 cents per can. Unfortunately the cans are paper-thin and have very little weight to them (therefore the return is low). These days, that is a _lot_ of cans to collect to buy a small treat.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
            1. Steven

              Yes I guess it is a good lesson learned. Although our episode showed it wasn’t very economical, at least it had positive environmental aspects. Refining Bauxite into Aluminium is a significant use of power (and therefore Carbon emissions).

              Liked by 2 people

              Reply
          1. Norah Post author

            That is a lot of cans to buy a small treat! 5 cents a can would be like gold in comparison. It doesn’t provide much of an incentive. The people have to really believe in the benefits of recycling for them to engage in the practice. Money is not much of an incentive; and virtually no money is even less.

            Like

            Reply
  4. Hugh's Views and News

    Lovely ending to the post, Norah. Here in the UK we still have a one pence coin, but I do remember when we also had a half pence coin. It was a tiny little coin which, more often or not, would get lost down the side of a sofa or end up falling into a plughole.
    As a child, I loved saving coins and putting them in a money box. Even when my mother suggested I open a saving account, I still preferred to see my coins. It rather annoyed my sister who would spend her pocket money within minutes. Thank goodness she never got her hands on the key to my money box.
    Never heard of musk sticks. Had to look them up. I do now remember them but they were called something different here in the UK. But, can I remember what they were called? No 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Hugh. Our halfpennies weren’t very small, about the size of a ten pence. Are you still the saver and your sister the spender? Is she the sister out here? I Googled musk sticks and UK and couldn’t find anything. They are listed as only Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps nobody has yet added the UK information.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Hugh's Views and News

        Indeed we are, Norah. Yes, she lives in Brisbane.
        I’m going back to the 1970s when I remember something similar to musk sticks. I remember the ridges of the sweets but was never all that fond of the taste. I can’t remember what they were called over here. They had a slight dusting of icing sugar over them to make them taste even sweeter. I had another look around the web and the nearest thing I could find was site that sells sweets from that era. The closest thing they sold were candy sticks. If I remember the name I’ll let you know what they were called.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          It is interesting that not even sweets can be the same from one place to another. The proverbial “they” seem to think our tastes are determined by our location. I guess they are to a certain extent, but how much of those are determined for us by what is available!

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  5. dgkaye

    A most beautiful post Norah. What you said is so true, how are kids supposed to learn the value of money when the world is full of plastic? Technology advances and takes away many of the fundamentals like understanding the value of money and calculators. And btw, that snippet of rain video was similar to what we had here last night. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Debby. Interestingly enough I read a post on Autism Mum today (https://autism-mom.com/it-is-better-to-give/) in which Elizabeth shared her concerns about teaching her son the value of money when most transactions are performed electronically. She has set up a PayPal account for him for his transactions. I think it’s a great opportunity for learning.
      I love the rain. I’m not so happy with hail, but these were only small pellets. I hope yours were soothing too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. dgkaye

        What a fantastic idea for parent’s to teach children, in this modern world of technology that sounds like a great workaround. Kids are taught in a completely different era than us so it makes sense they have to learn values through a method that they are familiar with.
        Thankfully the rain is gone, only the cold now to contend with. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Yes, which flavour of sugar did we want?
      I love the quote too. Funnily enough I hadn’t read it in its entirety until I went looking for it for this post, but the second part just makes it so much more meaningful. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  6. Charli Mills

    Such a rich lesson this week, Norah! I don’t recall money tins, but ceramic piggy banks were popular with children back when we were more cash dependent. I hadn’t thought about terms like cashiers becoming outdated, but it’s true. Perhaps we no longer hang up the phone, but we can pay with it! Musk sticks? When I was a kid, it was all about the “penny candy” like a piece of Bazooka Bubble Gum with a comic wrapper to read; or a tart Jolly Rancher hard candy; or a paper straw filled with sweet powder. Good points about the importance of teaching currency and monetary value, though. I love your flash because it captures that era of rattling coins as a big deal to a little kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I don’t know “penny candy” or Bazooka Bubble Gum. I guess sweets are different here and there. There are different ones in the UK too. Hub can’t get his favourites here and loves receiving a package containing them from his sister.
      I can’t imagine paying with a phone, though it’s not too far away. It’s no longer a phone really, is it? Maybe it needs another all-encompassing label. The all-in-one? That’s not very imaginative now, is it!
      Thank you for your comment about the flash. That’s exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. Steven

    They still make the tin money boxes of the CBA building (or at least they still did as of 5 or so years ago). In fact there happens to be one in this room. However I am not familiar with the difficulty in opening them that you describe so perhaps that has changed over time. The ones I am familiar with are the push-in seals at the base, which can be popped back out by leveraging a suitable sized coin or screwdriver on the lip of the seal.

    Australia is a pioneer of polymer notes and I believe we manufacture notes for various countries in Oceania. There is also the suggestion that Australian Bank Notes are the best in the World:

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Ah, you are much younger than I. Yes, the tins changed over time. The early ones didn’t have a plug. They were to be taken to the bank when filled. I have just confirmed this (had to make sure I was right) with a Google search. The sixth comment down in this conversation confirms, if you are interested http://community.ebay.com.au/t5/Coins-Stamps-Collectables/commonwealth-SBA-tin-numbered/td-p/1778178
      It’s great that they are still available, isn’t it. Even better that they now have a plug. According to the article I linked to within the post, they were first released in 1922 and have been the bank’s “flagship moneybox for 90 years” – closer to 100 now!
      I agree with you and the guy in the video about Australian bank notes being the best in the world. I have used two of the other currencies he compares. I must say, though, that I think he must have a little too much time on his hands. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the video. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  8. Deborah Lee

    Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane! I was a cashier, decades ago, on one of those big registers with the clunky keys, and man was I fast on it, too. I did not like the new computerized registers, although I still had to punch buttons. And counting out change – it seems no one knows how to do that anymore. They count out what they’re giving you, but the don’t count it BACK so it adds up to the bill you gave them. And these days what is sometimes hardest is when people on the street need money. I almost never have cash anymore. Homeless folks need to be set up to take debit. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for cashing in with your cashier memories. Those old registers were amazing, weren’t they? Sounds like you were pretty good at using them.
      You’re right. These days they don’t count back. We just have to trust the computer. Maybe it’s better at calculating anyway! 🙂
      I know what you mean about being cashless. I rarely carry cash. When I visited NY last year, I occasionally carried notes especially for the homeless, but didn’t think to do so nearly often enough. It seems incongruous for them to be set up to take money from cards. I guess that’s how it needs to be in a cashless society. Interesting thought.

      Like

      Reply
  9. thecontentedcrafter

    Goodness, what a walk down memory lane Norah! My memories match yours almost word for word 🙂 I think I was maybe 16 or 17 when decimalisation hit. My abiding memory was not being confident on converting yards and feet to metres, I entered a fabric store and needing one and one-third yards, asked for “One metre and nine inches please” The cheerful assistant, obviously primed for anything, complied easily and expelled any embarrassment.

    You are absolutely correct about the cash money situation and children. We have two generations now who have grown up with little understanding or experience of ‘real’ money. The thing I have watched with some alarm is young people’s disengagement from earning money. Many parents buy their kids what they want and those kids no longer have the concept of earning money for work done. Young people enter the workforce now with an expectation of receiving as much money as possible in exchange for them doing as little as possible. I tutored and mentored so many young men through the first six months of working who had no clue and who believed the world owed them something for simply breathing. Some left my care still relatively clueless that they owed the world anything at all.
    Keeping a job was very tough for them.

    Charli’s prompts are marvelous aren’t they – I so enjoy reading the preambles as well as the 99 words!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Your fabric story rings familiar too! Money was one thing, but everything else was just sooo difficult. We still seem to measure length in Imperial – miles away, give an inch, height in feet and inches. Some measurements, I can’t remember which, didn’t change until I was teaching. In the beginning we taught the conversions. It is much better to learn just one standard and not have to convert.
      I’m pleased you raised the issue about kids and money, and parents buying everything for them. I agree, and thought to mention it in the post but decided I’d said enough. I hoped someone would raise it. so thank you for doing so. I think a lot of what you are saying relates to the idea of “entitlement”. Some are so used to parents giving them everything, before they even think they want it, that they think society must do the same. Things were different in my day (not necessarily better all round) and we had to work hard for every bit we got. Many young people have a great work ethic and good sense of saving. It’s a shame there are some who don’t.
      I do enjoy Charli’s prompts. They always challenge me to think hard about how to respond. Thank you for reading and responding so positively. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. TanGental

    I’m with you and Anne on those memories of the change over; the excitement too of checking the date and the royal head on an old penny; to get a Victorian one was v exciting back in the day. And once we found a roman coin, at least the Archaeologist did with dad. No idea where that came from now. And did you have things like greenshield stamps – early points cards I suppose that came with shopping. Or was that something that didn’t translate down under!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I don’t remember greenshield stamps. How exciting to find a Roman coin! There’s nothing like that here, but we certainly looked for some pennies from “special” years that were deemed to have extra value. I don’t think I ever had any worth more than face value. And that just became less and less over time! Thanks for sharing your memories.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Annecdotist

    I love this, Norah. Perhaps not surprising that your pre-decimal coins look similar to ours – and there’s that British voice again on the video – and I remember the excitement and potential for confusion with decimalisation over here around a similar time. I think we all pitied the shop assistants on D-Day!
    I hadn’t thought about the loss of learning opportunities as the use of cash diminishes, along with the small shops in which to spend them. Loved your flash too – I remember those string bags – and was worried there wasn’t going to be any change to left over for the boy to spend! How disappointing that would have been for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Anne, and sharing the UK experience of decimalisation.
      Yes, that British accent on Australian TV again. We obviously viewed ourselves very much as a colony still then. I think we’ve grown up a bit since.
      Would I have been so mean to not give the young one some change? Who’s to say there was actually enough for change though. It may have been a random act of generosity on the part of Mrs Kramer. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  12. Silver Screenings

    The advert you posted regarding Australia’s currency switch is fascinating. What a huge undertaking that would be for a country, to switch currency!

    This post reminds me of the coins mothers used to bake in birthday cakes when we were kids. Yes, the thought of it now is a bit horrifying for some, but sometimes mothers would bake a cake with a quarter in it. To a kid, it was like winning a mini lottery! I had a friend whose mother would calculate how the cake would be cut before it was baked, then she would put a coin in each “slice” so that no one would miss out on a prize.

    Thanks for posting this! You’ve brought back some great memories. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for adding to the post with your memories.
      It was a big undertaking to change currencies and created a bit of confusion for the older folks at the time, but we did it, and are much better for it. Less confusion now.
      I hadn’t thought about the coins in cake. I don’t think we ever had them in birthday cakes but they were certainly mixed into the rich Christmas puddings. And making sure there was a coin in each slice was important, but difficult I’m sure. It was no longer acceptable to put coins in the puddings with the advent of decimal currency here due to the copper and nickel content in the coins which were previously silver. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s