If you're on Facebook you have probably seen the little article doing the rounds, the one about how much it actually costs to pay by credit card?
If you start out with 50 euros, for example, and pay for a meal in a restaurant, say, this many per cent will go to the bank. And when the restaurant owner wants to buy some new tablecloths or lightbulbs, also paying by card, he again will have a few centimos taken off, and he must pay for having the bank account and for the card, and when the lightbulb manufacturer wants to buy a new machine or whatever, he must pay for the bank's "services" (I put the word "service" in extremely heavy air quotes when it comes to banks) and so on, until the initial 50 euros is worth only 3 or 4.
With cash, on the other hand, a 50 is a 50 is a 50, no matter how many times it changes hands. No one is charging you for using it. The next person you give it to, will also own 100% of it.
So why have people fallen for this idea that using a card and paying more for each transaction that it actually costs, is such a good idea? The only ones benefitting from this use of cards, are the banks.
"But it's so convenient", people say. Really? I, for one, have spent more hours out of my ever shortening life waiting at shop check-out counters for people whose cards are playing up, than for any other reason. When the card isn't working - how embarrassing! Has it been blocked, or is it the supermarket's fault? Try another card, then another, add another five minutes to my waiting time - who cares as long as it's so very convenient?
Cash, on the other hand, works, every time. Come rain, snow and electric outages, cash works.
In fact, in many places in Norway they just don't 'accept' (as if it was a dirty political opinion) cash at all. Their loss! I'll just go somewhere else then.
Interestingly, it's only Norwegians who laugh at me for using cash. So old fashioned! So embarrassing to be seen with someone like me in a restaurant - what if a waiter lifts an eyebrow? Fortunately I live in Spain, where cash is always welcome.
As if I didn't know it before, a trip to England a few years ago really brought it home how important it is to have cash. I couldn't find a bank at the airport when I landed, so all I had was euros, a credit card and a bank card. I'll get money out of a cash point, I thought. But disaster, no cash point accepted UnionPay! Gritting my teeth, I had to use my credit card all the way, throwing free money at the bank.
At one stage I was in Torquay, stopping at a coffee shop to get out of the rain, and had a bowl of soup, which cost 4.50 or 5 pounds.
Oh, the machine is broken, so you can't pay with credit card. What?!? OK, Euros then. No, impossible. Well, it's all I have. In the end I had to give them 10 euros without getting change. Grrrr.
The very next day I was on a train back to London, buying a coffee and sandwich. Oh no, the machine doesn't work (because the train is moving) - sorry! A very very kind woman stepped in and paid for me - with cash. See, that's embarrassing.
Cash is king. Cash is also beautiful, decorative. I like to look at other countries' banknotes.
Another thing which is king, is Cantonese! Like cash, it's a ticket to creating smiles and happiness everywhere, like a supermarket checkout person when you give her the right money in notes and coins. If you can speak even 10 words of Cantonese, you will be treated like a dear and illustrious guest; something of a rock star in fact.
And now you can learn Hong Kong style Cantonese almost free on the electric internet!
Today's Cantonese: 現金 - yin gam - ready gold= cash.