Living in Cali. [week 1] Shopping basics

Photo courtesy of Don’s World Coin Gallery.

Shopping in United States, California specifically is a serious business for foreigners. Knowing the local currency, written and unwritten rules do save us from hassle and being weird. Naah, the locals are very helpful :p

A colleague of mine took an effort to teach me basic and essential stuff to know when buying stuffs. Those are how to use the coins, queuing up, sales tax and tips.

The coins

Well, to use the paper dollar money is kind of straight forward as the note do obviously indicate the value it holds. However for the coins. you need to get use to them. In malaysia, we have coins of 1cent(just abolished) 5, 10, 20 and 50cent. While here in States, theres 1cent, 5cent, 10cent and 25cent. Not only that, they have specific names too, where 1cent =penny, 5cent=nickel, 10cent=dime and 25cent=quarter.

Well, you can always pay in bigger money and get the change, but collecting all the small change is not a good idea for the pocket >_<


When queuing up to pay stuff at the counter, the 2nd person and the rest should be few feet away from the 1st person that is currently paying at the counter. This is more like an unwritten rule, although in a good side it provides privacy (people cant see your cards and money in wallet). Well, I’ve seen this even in McD and Mervyns.

Sales tax

State of California do impose sales tax of 7.5% on every item sold in whatever form, from electrical appliances to food. So when you want to pay for something, must remember the 7.5%. This also applies to anything ordered from outside CA, and going in. Oh, each state will have different kind of tax and rate.

For electrical items, there will be and additional charge, that is the recycle fee per item. I believe the fee is fixed at USD6. Not sure is the whole United State need to pay this fee.


Im not sure about this, but tips is serious business here. It is said that the tips should be in 15% range. Ussualy tips is given to shop/person who serviced us, most likely restaurants. Even my cellphone do have tips and sales tax calculator LOL

Theres a lot more fun knowledge and experience i gained while being here, and I will share more later :p


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10 responses to “Living in Cali. [week 1] Shopping basics”

  1. Mike Harmon says :

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

  2. Orange says :

    California sales tax can vary a bit by region. The places where I’ve lived have had sales tax above 8 percent.

    Tips range from 10% to 15%. Or at least that’s the general rule about tips that I learned way back…

  3. Rin says :

    We have almost the same thing here in Canada. Well, the tax here I think is 13% and tips is 10%.
    Well, you’ll get use to it if you live in a Country where there are coins like that.

  4. makie says :

    hehe, u seems to be having fun ya…
    the tip i had heard b4 from ppl who went to US b4, the tip is like our service tax over here..

  5. Mandy.Mango says :

    Haha this is all very true. I was born in HK but raised in California. I guess these things come so natural to us that I don’t even think about it.

  6. Hangmen says :

    Be proud that those taxes help finance the next future weapon for the US military!

  7. federerfundamentals says :

    hey…ran across the blog and i love the layout. if i could ask you, or anyone reading this, does anyone know how to get the layout to do the “continue reading this entry” instead of showing the entire post every time? thanks in advance.

  8. e-jump says :

    thanks guys for visiting my page.
    I just realized theres lotsa typo and and bad santences need rephrasing. Hope I can improve my english when im here >_<

    @f-f: thanks. You can use the ‘Insert More Tag(Alt+Shift+T)’ button in the write post page. A long horizontal line will appear.

  9. Prim3 says :

    Tips during shopping eh? something relatively new for those in MY.. (for me at least) XD

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