There are differences between the way people use money in America and the way they use it in Croatia. Certainly, some of the comments below may apply to other places; ie. America may corrolate with western Europe, Croatia with Bosnia, who knows? But since I'm an American living in Croatia visiting America, I'll stick to what I've observed first hand.
1. Change. I drove up to my local Dunkin' Donuts the other day, ordered a medium french vanilla coffee with cream and sugar and was told that I would owe the lady at the window $2.02. I panicked. In America, you pay what they tell you to pay. In Croatia, they'd be fine with $2.00. $1.50 would probably do too if you were going to the local bakery and you told them you'd pay them back next time. But here, if you can't find 2 pennies among all the junk in your pocket, you'll have to pay $3 and receive a whole heapload of change. At least next time you'll have it.
2. Tips. I'm told the going rate is 15% here in the good old United States of Be Kind to you Waiter or Waitress. When I was a server I had to earn my tips. This unwritten rule of 15% bugs me these days because I live in a land where the only things you leave on the table are your crumbs. In Croatia, the price of the meal is the price of the meal. No hidden cost. No expectations. No alternative motives. End of story.
Last week I went to a restaurant in Boston to watch the World Series with my brother. The waitress promised us she'd turn the channel to the game as soon as we sat down. Fifteen minutes later, she took our drink order. A half hour later she asked us what we wanted to eat. Finally, forty five minutes after the initial promise, the channel changed to the 5th inning of the baseball game. How much did she get? That's right, 15 percent. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the service. I'm just complaining about backwards mindset of being required to pay what's supposed to be a reward. It's called a tip right?
3. Prices. Good old consumer America has good prices. They have sales. They have clearance sections. They have bright red stickers with unbelievable prices written on them that make you think you've uncovered a pot of gold. I know, because I was there today. I visited the hat section of my local Gap store and found one for $2.97 among all the others priced at $25. Two Dollars and ninety seven cents! I bought that cap faster than you can say "price check" and got myself out of dodge.
So there's good and bad in both places. In Croatia, you pay up to ying-yang for clothes, electricity and gas. In America, college can put you in debt for a lifetime and you pay an arm and a leg to have a baby. Which country is kinder to your wallet? I'd have to say Croatia.