As you can well imagine,, money is different here in Russia. There are no checking accounts. Here we use a debit card to draw off cash in rubles from our checking account back home. Credit cards are limited and fairly new here. We don't use them here. (they are accepted in some restaurants and large malls, but we wouldn't use them anyway for security purposes). Everything is cash on the barrel. Fortunately, the bank is right next door which makes it easy. Especially in light of the fact that Dave, as one of the financial secretaries, is always drawing off money for this or that and he funds the missionaries their monthly allowances, rents, area adjustments. With over 100 missionaries to take care of financially, that is a LOT of money! The missionaries take the money off their cards and use it as needed. Even rent is paid in cash. Our rent is 45,000 rubles a month. WOW. That sounds a lot. We also pay 3100 rubles for for a building fee and 800 rubles a month for utilities.
It can be very disconcerting when you go to the grocery store for your weekly shopping and your receipt shows that you owe 2764 rubles. WOW. However, broken down it is only $92 (give or take). The value of the ruble changes slightly day to day. When I went to Metro (like Costco) the receipt was over 5000 rubles. (around $170). My haircut today will cost 1000 rubles. Not to worry. That is only around $30, what I would pay in the States and includes a generous tip for my wonderful hairdresser Goar who comes to me in my apartment. I LOVE that.
The Russians have more coins than I have ever heard of. We have the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and so on. They have a ruble, a 10 ruble coin, a 2 and a 5. Not so strange BUT they also have kopecks. A kopeck is a tiny coin with a 1 on it and is worth here in Russia on 1/10th of 1 ruble. WOW. They are very hard to fine. They also have tiny coins with a 2 or a 50 on it. (Haven't figured out their value)
THEN, when we go to Latvia which we will be doing next week for our visa trip out of the country which is required by law here in Russia, we will change our rubles to lats, the Latvian coinage. One lat is worth approximately $2 American dollars, so you can have a meal that was "only" 6 lats, but you are paying about $12.
As I have mentioned before, we love hearing from YOU, so please keep in touch. We send love and hugs from Russia. Until next time, dos vidonya.