Show Me the Money

close up of coins on table
Photo by Karol D on

Yesterday, I went to the drugstore to pick up a few items. When I went to pay for my purchases, I ended up with a total of ¥1,014. I took out a ¥1000 bill and searched for change for the rest of the total. I came up with the ¥4–but even after spending a minute to look every where, I still couldn’t find that ¥10 coin.


With a sigh, I gave up on the ¥4, pulled out another ¥1000 bill, and waited as the cashier counted out my ¥986 change in coins.


Now I have a wallet full of coins.

Yes, you might wonder if it’s worth all the hassle to be counting out change (14 measly yen!), delaying the line behind me, and giving the cashier extra work. For me, though, it always is. Luckily, Japan is a cash society, so I am in the company of millions of people who do the same thing I do. The cashiers and the people waiting in line are used to all this. Don’t forget that the population is composed mostly of elderly people who still pay in cash and coins.

I like to pay in cash. I find that it helps me spend less money and really think about the purchases I am making. I also like dealing with the coins and “cleaning” out my wallet at the end of the week because I’ve used up all the change. It feels like I am being efficient with my money. I feel like I’ve given every yen a job, no matter how lowly a coin it is–after all, we do not have a coin jar at home. There’s no need for it.

Money is money, no matter what form it comes in.

I’ve read somewhere that paying in cash affects the pain points in your brain. I find this to be true for myself. Somehow, making a purchase on a credit card and knowing I have to pay for it later isn’t the same as handing over my hard-earned cash. I watch my  money leave my wallet and go into the hands of someone else. Once it leaves my hands, it never comes back in the same form. Meanwhile, my credit card always come back; it’s like it has never left my wallet.

I think the psychology of it all has affected me deeply. It has made me into a frugal person–and I mean that in a good way. I’ve come to know on a basic level my real needs versus my fleeting wants. Paying with cash for needs makes me feel better, but paying for unnecessary wants always makes me hesitate. I stop to think if I really need something before I take out my wallet from my bag. Usually, after giving it some thought, I realize that this thing that I’d picked up was something I don’t need. I put it back on the shelf and move on.

Now, for the rest of the week, I am on a mission to use the ¥986 in coins efficiently–but only if I really need to, though.

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.56.41

One thought on “Show Me the Money

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