How to Count Back Change
Counting Change is Easy
You Want the Change Back?
Yes, I’m one of those that gives the cashier the exact change for a purchase. I can hear the groans at cash registers everywhere as I dig into the depths of my voluminous purse. The beady eyes of people who wait in line behind me narrow and focus on my transaction. While they’re checking their watches, I ask the cashier, “Is it too late to give you the seven pennies?” The crowd groans. I’ve actually been told, “Yes, it is.”
Could it be that these cashiers were never trained on the art of counting back change to a customer? That’s probably a fact. Seriously, I've asked cashiers if they received any training in customer service, or training on the proper way to bag groceries, or what to do if the customer wants to give you the pennies rather than break another dollar bill. I was shocked when they told me, “No.” Consider the source. I was at Wal-Mart.
Paying with the Exact Change
Let's Begin With a Real World Example
Suppose your customer purchased forty-eight dollars and thirty-seven cents ($48.37) worth of groceries and hands you a one hundred dollar bill ($100.00). If you accidentally hit the cash out button, indicating they gave you the exact amount of cash, the register won't tell you how much change you need to give.
How would you figure out how much change to give them back? It's easy if you count it back. Here's how I was taught to do it.
- Start from the smallest denomination of money (that would be pennies) to round up the amount to either five (5) or zero (0). For a purchase of $48.37 begin in this manner.
- From the pennies bin, pull out one penny at a time and count to yourself after each penny. “Forty-eight dollars and thirty-eight cents (48.38), forty-eight thirty-nine, (48.39) and forty-eight forty (48.40). You've reached an amount with a zero. You could go to the nickels bin but that isn't the largest denomination of change needed.
- Go to the dimes bin and pull out one dime. Say to yourself, "Forty-eight fifty (48.50)."
- Now, go to the quarter compartment and pull out one quarter. With the first quarter, count to yourself, “Forty-eight seventy-five" (48.75). With the second quarter you count and say to yourself, "That makes forty-nine dollars" (49.00). That's a full dollar amount, so move on to the paper currency.
Start with the Odd Change
- Pull a one dollar bill out of the drawer and tell yourself, "And one dollar makes fifty."
The change still remains in your hand at this point while you grumble under your breath about stupid old bags and their ridiculous fixation of using cash.
- Pull a ten dollar bill from the drawer and say to yourself, "Plus ten makes sixty." You could also use two fives, but most customers want the highest denomination possible and not a lot of loose currency.
Rather than giving them four more tens (forty dollars) for the remaining change, move on to the next higher denomination, which would be the twenty dollar bills. Assuming you learned this in school,
- Sixty dollars plus a twenty dollar bill would equal eighty dollars.
- Add one more twenty and you’ve got the correct change for a hundred.
Why Should Anyone Learn How to Make Change?
When I turned sixteen, I started working retail at a dime store. Within the first week, the manager put me on the register. The first thing we were taught about operating that antique brass National Cash Register, was that when the drawer flew open after ringing the merchandise, we counted back the change into our hand and then counted it audibly as we handed it to the customer. This is a lost art in today's world of computers and calculators.
But sometimes, it is necessary to know the art of counting change, like when we have a garage sale or work as a vendor in places that don't have automated registers like the flea market or the school carnival.
And of course, there's the occasional customer like myself who likes to give the odd change to the cashier in order to receive back fewer one dollar bills or coins. I'll admit, I do it sometimes to keep my math abilities fresh. This seems to have a detrimental effect on the register operators who can't make change without the machine telling them how much.
Has This Happened to You?
Giving Back Small Denominations of Cash
This week, I was shopping at the Ross store that recently opened in our area. I waited in the maze of roped off lines, Disney World style, to approach the cashier. I gave her a one hundred dollar bill for a forty-eight dollar and twenty-three cent purchase. I don’t usually have hundred dollar bills, but I sold some furniture at a garage sale and they paid me in cash.
The cashier seemed taken aback that I would even think of using cash. He gave me five tens and a dollar and seventy-two cents change. That was the right amount but most people don't want a load of small bills in their wallet.
I asked, “Don’t you have any twenties? This is a lot of tens.” After marking the currency with his special pen to make sure the large bill was not counterfeit, he announced over the public address system, “I need twenties, here.” People in the line turned to stare at me.
It seems as if stores are not expecting anyone to use cash and they don't supply their registers with the appropriate currency to make change.
Use Caution When Using Hundred Dollar Bills
Counting it Back to the Customer
Now, to count it back to the customer whose sweaty little hand is stretched toward you.
Repeat the dollar amount of the purchase to them. “That’s forty-eight dollars and thirty-seven cents, Ma’am," being sure to emphasize the word to let people know that the customer is an old codger.
Next, calmly and firmly, count out the pennies. "Thirty-eight, thirty-nine and forty."
Now, hand them the dime. “And ten cents makes forty-eight fifty.”
Next count back the quarters. The progression is from the smallest coin to the largest. "That's forty-eight seventy-five (after the first quarter) and forty nine dollars (after the second quarter.)
Carefully placing the dollar bill in their hand, continue. “And one dollar makes fifty.”
Moving along to the ten dollar bill, “Sixty.”
We're up to the twenties now. After the first twenty say, “Eighty,” and handing them the last twenty, simply say, “And that makes one hundred dollars.”
Okay, maybe it is just too hard. When all else fails, tell the customer not to bring cash anymore and go on your well-deserved break.
Dogs Who Can Count
Why Don't They Just Use a Credit Card?
Credit cards may represent around seventy-eight percent of all sales but there will still be those people, like me, who like to use cash. You will need to be able to make change for these people.
Then there are those odd-balls who want to give you the odd change after you've already rung up the amount tendered.
"Can I give you the seven cents?" The next lesson will cover what to do when the old bat gives you the small change.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
When did cash registers start showing the proper change to give?
Until the seventies, cash registers generally totaled the amount of purchases, and it was up to the cashier to count out the change to customers. With the increased popularity of calculators and their lowered costs, this feature was incorporated into electronic registers. Coin dispensers were available much earlier in various forms in grocery stores and vending machines, but the bills were still counted out by the register operators.Helpful 1
© 2015 Peg Cole