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Things I Love About Poland #04: Money

25 Jan 2011
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Polish bills
Polish bills. Photo by Niels Heidenreich.

This is the fourth installment in my series of articles called "Things I Love About Poland," in which I discuss differences between Poland and the USA. In this article, I talk about money.

American money is boring; it's all the same size and color! But Polish money is of various sizes and colors, so it's easy to know approximately how much money you have with just a quick glance in your wallet.

American bills
American bills. Photo by Tracy Olson

How do blind people in the USA know how much money they have? Honestly, I have no idea. According to this page, some options include: folding each denomination differently, or using a wallet with many dividers.

But blind people still depend on sighted people to initially decipher the value of each bill! With Polish money, there is no such problem.

Jar full of coins
My coin jar!

Coins in the USA are worth so little, I have few chances to use them. I tend to spend the bills and collect the coins. Then, every couple years I take the coins to the bank and they turn them into bills again.

But I love coins! I have a small coin collection with money from Russia, Ukraine, Israel, England, Canada and Jamaica - as well as some obsolete currency, including: Spanish pesetas, German deutsche marks and French francs.

Polish coins
Polish coins. Photo by Niels Heidenreich

In Poland, coins are actually useful. You can buy a lot of things with one-, two- to five-zloty coins. For example, when we lived in Cracow, a bottle of Tatra beer cost 2 zl at the store around the corner, and 20 bags of Grande mint tea cost 0.89 zl at Kaufland. A bus or tram ticket cost 1.50 zl.

When in Poland, be prepared to be asked for exact change every time you buy something, anywhere! This really irritates many people, especially foreigners who aren't used to it. But I love it, because it means that I get to use coins!

See also

Anonymous's picture

And they want to bring the euro to Poland. I hope that never happens, not only will it probably be bad for the economy but Poland will loose a little bit of its pride. Currency is one of the things that makes a country unique. I live in Canada and I agree with you, Polish money looks much cooler that Canadian/American.

Posted by: marcin (not verified) | Saturday, January 29, 2011 - 22:33
David Snopek's picture

I agree about the Euro. The pro-Euro people say that having the Euro makes the economy more stable, but it certainly didn't help in (for example) Germany or Ireland during the recent financial crisis!

I really don't understand how it makes sense to have a currency which is heavily influenced by factors in other countries while the economy is primarily influenced by local factors. The currency could go in one direction while the economy goes in another.

But I definitely understand how the Euro is good for international business! So, its probably being pushed by big business.

Anyway, with the way the Polish government keeps pushing the date for the Euro off, it might never happen. ;-)

Posted by: David Snopek | Sunday, January 30, 2011 - 07:11
Anonymous's picture

Nice article, and Very nice system you made. I can read your article about polish money, and troug the integration with BiblioBird, I understund it.

Posted by: Janusz (not verified) | Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 18:20
Anonymous's picture

Hi!
Cool article. I come from Poland and I live near Baltic Sea. You should visit this place - amazing. :) I like the idea of the European Union, but I don't like to change the currency. I love "polskie złotówki" and "grosze"! ^^
Translate-system which you use here is very good thing. It's easy to read your posts.

Greetings from Polish!

Posted by: Tomasz (not verified) | Saturday, February 12, 2011 - 18:04
David Snopek's picture

Oooh, I always wanted to see the Polish seaside! :-) Next time I'm in Poland, hopefully I will have time to visit there.

The translation system is BiblioBird, which is a project I'm working on for learning languages (really only English right now).

The best description of it is in the second half of this video.

Best regards!
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Monday, February 14, 2011 - 11:04
Anonymous's picture

We all have experience the merits of carrying notes and coins of different denominations. It would really be convenient if we could decipher or differentiate them just by a glance or a touch. People avoid carrying coins due to the weight and other factors. Notes are easy to carry but if they differ from denomination to denomination, it would save a little time. Yours is a very interesting discussion on such common subject.

Posted by: track cell phone (not verified) | Monday, July 4, 2011 - 11:20
Anonymous's picture

It's funny and absorbing your article about Polish money.
In fact when I shop in the supermarket or any in the stores and the vendor is always asking for small change.
The vendor tells to me whether have you some small change ?
I admit that I hate this and sometimes I cheat when I'm at the checkout.
I always say this way " Sorry, I have already spent my small change and I don't have any small change with me."

Nie wiem jak się pisze po angielsku " przy sobie " ?

Posted by: mjosek (not verified) | Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 13:46
David Snopek's picture

Glad you liked the article!

Odpowiednik dla słowa "przy sobie" byłby "on me/you/him/her/etc". Na przykład: "Nie mam przy sobie żadnych drobnych" -> "I don't have any small change on me". Ale to jest zupełnie nie potrzebne, również mógłbyś powiedzieć po prostu "I don't have any small change".

Mam nadzieję, że to pomoże!

Pozdrawiam,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:07
Anonymous's picture

Dzięki za wyjaśnienie :)
Pozdrawiam serdecznie,
Michał.

Posted by: mjosek (not verified) | Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 11:50
Anonymous's picture

I know of some country where they say: "have no shrapnels on me" ;)

Posted by: Przemko (not verified) | Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 14:55
David Snopek's picture

Heh, do you remember which country?

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 07:54
Anonymous's picture

Of course I remember - thats Northern Ireland :)

Posted by: Przemko (not verified) | Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 11:40
Anonymous's picture

Indian currency is like the polish currency with each note of different sizes and i think that is the better way....

Posted by: Carter5643 (not verified) | Monday, October 10, 2011 - 01:19
Anonymous's picture

Haha, we totally have different views regarding coins. I hate coins because I keep losing them. They're small and hard to read. I'd rather have a lot of paper money. Also, I noticed that you're from Milwaukee? I go to UW-Mad and I'm in Lodz right now working. I'm just reading your whole site basically to find reasons why people should learn Polish-not an easy task. Any suggestions on top of what you've already wrote?

Posted by: Arif Johari (not verified) | Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 07:57
David Snopek's picture

It's a small world! When you're back in Madison we should meet up sometime. :-)

I think I've already written the best reasons I have. There's probably some more though. If you come up with any really good ones, let me know!

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 07:33
Anonymous's picture

Maybe a good reason for foreigners (at least those traveling to Poland) to TRY to learn basic Polish would be: "There is still soooo many Polish in Poland who don't speak English AT ALL you may feel lost" *wink* Try to buy a train ticket in here - a ticket agent will drop dead the moment you say: "ehmm... Hello...?" ;-) ;-)

Greetings from the heart of Poland,
buziaki!
Olimpia

Posted by: Olimpia (not verified) | Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 17:39
David Snopek's picture

Hi Olimpia!

Thanks for the comment and your warm greetings!

I think that depends on where you are in Poland. In Kraków, I saw lots of foreigners successfully buy train tickets in English in the main train station. However, if you buy your ticket on the train or in a smaller city - yes, you absolutely will have problems! :-)

In this article I give 4 more reasons to learn Polish (but not just for people traveling to Poland):
http://www.linguatrek.com/blog/2011/05/4-reasons-to-learn-polish

Pozdrawiam serdecznie,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Friday, August 10, 2012 - 09:02
Anonymous's picture

As surely as the Sun - you are right ;-)
I exaggerated a bit, of course ;) Younger people usually do speak at least basic English. It really irritates me, though, when I witness a situation when somebody cannot buy a DANG post stamp to send a letter because a lady working at a post office doesn't understand "Send - to Spain - Please".. The most funny thing is, however, that some people think that if they speak ssssssllooooooowwwwlllyyy and L-O-U-D (in Polish!) foreigners will actually understand them ;-) ;-)

Posted by: Olimpia (not verified) | Friday, August 10, 2012 - 12:00
Anonymous's picture

Hi!
I do not know how is that possible but somehow I missed this series of articles...
I want to say that the more I liked the old notes. Those that were in "circulation" between 1975 and 1995.
Varius color but the same size .. wallet could be smaller ;)

There is the link:
http://i.pinger.pl/pgr408/087f2d6c000151fc4d60e715/banknoty+old.jpg

Posted by: Przemko (not verified) | Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 14:52
David Snopek's picture

I like the art work. :-) Thanks for sharing!

Regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 07:55
Anonymous's picture

In Brazil, where I live, our money is very similar to Poland's. It's even the same colors! The difference is our money has animals in it, not historical figures. It's really very practical. Now, if only our coins were worth something...

Posted by: Anna (not verified) | Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 06:43
David Snopek's picture

Hi Anna!

Wow, Brazilian money does look similar! I just looked at some images on Google. :-)

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 09:15
Anonymous's picture

How nice! :-) :-) Love love love colorful bills!
I hope we won't get Euro, at least in the nearest future... -.-

Posted by: Olimpia (not verified) | Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 16:49

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