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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

July 13th, 2007

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08:42 am - Adventures in Currency Conversion
I have previously admitted to being low on cash. How low, one might ask? Well, on Monday morning, I was $24 short of having enough cash to pay my mortgage, which is due on Saturday.

Step one was to sell off all the books I knew I'd never look at or read again. This gathered me about $5 (or approximately a quarter per book). "Okay," I thought, "you're 20% of the way there."

The next thing I thought about was selling sets of rune dice. I've been making these with some industry for a while now, and I have a few sets made up.

They look like this:

The central issue with that is that it doesn't solve my immediate need (as orders need filling and cash needs transferred and yada/yada/yada and I only have until Saturday to deposit this cash). So I started thinking about other things I could do.

After a lot of thought and a lot of false starts on things (such as selling Discordian Futhark runes on apples that look like this:
I decided that I would take the 30 Euros I had down to the currency exchange and get me some real American Dollars!

The first order of business, of course, was to find out what the real exchange rate was for the cash. A quick Google search found that the appropriate current prices would yield approximately $41.30 for 30 Euros. Not bad: a strong Euro and a flacid dollar aren't always a bad combination (considering I'd bought those 30 Euro for about $39 in April).

The next order of business was to call my bank and see if they'd do an exchange for me.

Of course, like any good bank, they indicated that it was no problem. Until I informed the nice lady how much I had.
her: Just thirty?

me: Yep. Thirty Euros. Is that a problem?

her: Well, not really, but we charge a flat $10 for all currency conversions. We've outsourced our conversion to a company in Florida, and that's what they charge us. But I know the airport can buy it!

Okay, so now I have to pay 20% of the total USD value and wait for the cash to arrive in my account from Florida? Ack. I only have four days left to get this all done!

So, strike one. Next, I called the airport and asked about their rates. The nice lady informed me that they'd buy my Euros at $37.87. Not bad, hardly 10% loss. But then there was the matter of a small, flat fee.

The airport charges $5.95 for all their transactions.

So here, I'm losing not quite $10. So I settle on that and leave my office at lunch to get the currency exchanged. I'd still walk out with more than my needed $19.

About halfway to the airport, though, I remember a critical bit of information that suddenly made the bank look much nicer: I was going to have to pay $2 for the convenience of parking for 15 minutes while the exchange took place.

But, of course, I was most of the way there when I realized this, and given that I was already spending the gas (another hidden cost), I decided to go through with it.

I walked into my bank a half hour later and deposited $30. I had left the Airport with $29 after all the fees and about a gallon of gas was burned, and decided not to dump all my cash into my account. At this point, I mostly felt like I had been bent over a table by the airport and had them shove a Boeing 757 up my ass, but at least I had made my mortgage payment, and on time no less!

Now, I was tired of starving. I decided I could spend $3 on food, so I dropped in on the McDonalds and ordered from the dollar menu.

I cannot remember the last time I've eaten fast food, and I hadn't spent any money on food in over three weeks at that point. I cannot express how delicious that double cheeseburger was.

Nor can I adequately express what it did to my digestive system, but that's another post.

So, simply put, everything worked out: a full stomach (unknown for two weeks at this point) and a paid mortgage.

And all it took was asking the airport to shove a Boeing 757 up my ass.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Carnival World", -JB

(32 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 13th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes: the discrepancy between American attitudes toward currency conversion and European attitudes was quite apparent :)

It made me long for the nice little shop in Paris where they were all business, gave me a decent rate, and sent me off in about 30 seconds.

Of course, I could find a money changer just about anywhere there. In Columbus, OH, there's only one, and it's at the airport. And banks, as you see, aren't being positive about the exchange rate.

I suddenly miss Europe a lot more than before :)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:July 13th, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
I had a military history professor who used to like saying, "Jimmy Carter was from Georgia, Josef Stalin was from Georgia. . . there's got to be some connection there!"

I think a lot of it has to do with our general Amerocentrism regarding currency, which can best be summed up in the statement, "Why would anyone want anything other than a dollar?"

Whereas I'm seriously thinking about a bank in Greece that had a very nice exchange rate and a solid interest rate for Euros. They offered a 12% interest rate for dollars and a 10% rate for Euros: that, alone, showed me the stability patterns in the currency.
[User Picture]
Date:July 13th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
When I was in Italy in 1990, everyone wanted dollars. The best exchange rate was had with random people in random places, rather than at real money-changing booths.

Of course, besides the stronger dollar then, that was in the pre-Euro days of the Lira. One Lira made a penny look good.
[User Picture]
Date:July 13th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
They sure want Euros now. . .
[User Picture]
Date:August 6th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
12%? Here I thought I was doing well getting %5.05! Would you happen to have contact information for this bank?
[User Picture]
Date:August 6th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
yeah: Piraeus Bank

Of course, I can't find the deal promised on the ATM slip on their site, but it's not the best designed site I've ever encountered.

Wish I still had the slip, but I gave it to ferrelux, who was just as keenly interested as you :)

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