Watch the Pesos


Whether or not Benjamin Franklin was the first to say it, it is still true. “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

And it is certainly true in Mexico right now.

When the Bank of Mexico issued the new version of the 500-peso note (the one featuring Benito Juarez), it also announced it would be withdrawing the Juarez 20-peso note from circulation (bienveidos benito — y adios).  The withdrawal process started last August. A Mexican merchant friend says it usually takes a full year or more for the Bank to hoover up all of the old notes.

The Bank will not be issuing a new 20-peso note. When the current notes are fully withdrawn, the smallest denomination note will be the Morelos 50-peso note. (The new version of the 50-peso note will be issued in 2022.)

The 20-peso note has been the utility player for the Mexican peso. It is the mainstay for making change.

Realizing that a change gap will be created when the notes are withdrawn, the Bank has promised to place additional 20-peso coins in circulation.

If you did not know such an exotic creature existed, you are not alone. Probably because the 20-peso note is more convenient, 20-peso coins are not often seen — which may disprove Gresham’s Law. In the ten years, I have lived here, I have received only three in change. Until today.

The Escape needed to be fed this afternoon. Filling its tank usually costs me about 1000 pesos — less a bit of change. And that was true today. $958 (Mx) to be exact.

Usually, my 42-peso change would be something like two 20-peso notes and a 2-peso coin. Or, more usually, a 20-peso note, 2 10-peso coins, and a 2-peso coin. (The attendants are very clever in maximizing their propina opportunities of receiving the traditional 10-peso tip.)

But, not today. I received a 2-peso coin, and three large shiny brass coins. I thought the attendant had shorted me 10 pesos. She hadn’t. Before I could say anything, I noticed one of the brass coins was larger than the other. It was a 20-peso coin. My first in probably two years.

I am writing today not to tell you about this fascinating tale of commercial intercourse at the gas pump, but to pass along a reminder.

At first glance, I thought I had three 10-peso coins in my hand. But the 10 and 20 coins are somewhat easy to distinguish. The 20 is larger and has a different face.

Having said that, I know I have accidentally spent a 20-peso coin in the past as if it were a 10. They are deceptively close. I occasionally have the same problem with the 2 and 1 coins, as well.

So, that is my hint for the day. If you put it to good use (and if Ben Franklin is as I wise as I believe him to be), you will soon be buying that villa in Tuscany that you have been eyeing for all these years.

Buena Suerte.

Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico

The Mazatlan Post