So when you find yourself having to pay 100,450 rubles for groceries, the famous Belarusian game of ‘Bill Negotiation’ must begin. The objective of the game is to conveniently get rid of most of that thick pile of almost worthless cash and not receive more in change back. So, you start searching through your wallet. All the bills look the same! How many zeros are on this one? No, that’s 10,000, not 100,000! You begin to feel the pressure of the queue forming behind you, those angry eyes staring at you. Finally, you find two high value bills, 100,000 each. Surely that will work! However, as you are about to hand over the 200,000, you begin to realize how much change you are risking getting back and how grumpy the cashier might be having to gather that change for you. She might even not have it! She foresees the problem and asks you to search for 450 rubles, or something close to that. You save the day by collecting a small pile of correct bills from your wallet. Crisis averted.
Belarusians seem to play this game quite naturally, without breaking out in a sweat, but don’t believe it’s not annoying for them too! Fortunately, playing this game a lot makes you learn some tricks: the first is to organize your bills, from lowest to highest in value. Secondly, you should study the money: get to know the colour, the picture and the number of zeros that goes with it. Coincidentally, this is also a good way to learn about the landmarks of Belarus! You are sure to have a very satisfied feeling once you can give the cashier lady her 450 Belarusian rubles in only a couple of seconds.
Something else that is second nature for Belarusians is to know exactly what the USD-BYR exchange rate is at any moment (and maybe even which bank has the best rate!). Having a couple of dollars saved at home is a very normal thing and a famous Belarusian saying explains why: “I’m all out of money, gotta go exchange some dollars”.