Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sharing Lessons Learned

I always knew that keeping foreign currency was more difficult than most people think. Over years of traveling and despite my many groans, I can loosely say we have amassed numerous small denominations of foreign currency. Is it not money after all? Would it not be a sin to just simply throw it out? Yes, but something must be done.

I decided that this was the week I would be tackling this task. Here is what I have learned.

1. Always dump your foreign currency at the airport before leaving the country. I have been to many places and managed to return home with out even a penny of the currency. In London we brought The Boys a nice meal with our remaining cash as we waited for our flight. In Singapore we donated currency to a locale charity group located at the airport. This is the most important part of the lesson. Dump your foreign currency on the way too or at the airport before you leave the country!

2. Like the American penny most places find it unprofitable to deal in the exchange of foreign coins. Coins are money and in a world were every penny counts; should we not be allowed to count that fraction of the American penny? The answer I heard a lot today was no, I am not allowed to count that fraction of an American penny.

3. Not all paper currencies are made alike. I called various places that advertise themselves as currency exchanges, but the exchange is based on rather they take the type of bills you have or not. None of the currency exchanges I spoke with took coins and they only take certain denominations of bills. Even Chase Bank told me that they only took particular bills. It is hard to know when you leave a county, if the bills in your pocket can be changed or not once you take your seat on the flight home.

4. As the world evolves so does the world’s currency. What is worth ten dollars today may be worth zero by the time you return home. The old proverbs “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” applies here. If you cannot use the currency after you leave the country why keep it? Also, the currency market in many emerging markets lends themselves to many counterfeit bills. This is one of the reasons why banks only takes certain denominations of currency.
In closing, if you could careless about your currency, please consider donating the money before you board your plane. If you do not need the money, consider that someone else might gladly use it.

I will be finding a charity to donate my remaining foreign currency too. How about you....