My son and I were waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store when I observed something that made me want to take action. The customer in front of me got her total and handed the cashier a $100 bill. The cashier thought she pushed the right buttons, but the register did not display the amount of change to give the customer. The cashier asked the bagger, who was also a cashier, what to do.
At that moment I had to turn around and compose myself. I had to resist…
After a moment I was able to turn back in the direction of the cashiers. The bagger grabbed a calculator and began entering numbers.
I had to turn away again. I couldn’t watch. Resisting the pull to act was so difficult!
The second cashier finished using the calculator. The first cashier gave the customer her change. I was still resisting. All through my transaction I was biting my tongue.
I so badly wanted to teach that cashier how to count change.
Counting change from the purchase price to the amount given is relatively simple and involves little more than counting skills and familiarity with the values of coins. The goal is to count up from the purchase price to the amount the customer presented using the fewest coins and bills possible.
Here’s an example: the purchase total is $2.89. The cashier says “That will be $2.89,” and as the customer hands the cashier a $10 bill, “out of 10.” The cashier places the $10 bill on the register, not in it, counts the change from the drawer into her hand, then from her hand to the customer’s hand.
From the cash drawer to the cashier’s hand:
“The total is $2.89
out of 10
(picks up a penny) $2.90
(picks up a dime) $3.00
(picks up a $1 bill) $4.00
(picks up a $1 bill) $5.00
(picks up a $5.00 bill) $10”
The cashier then counts the change into the customers hand in the same way. There is no need to subtract.
When the changed is calculated by the cash register, counting the change back to the customer from the purchase price up to the amount given is a good way to check your work and demonstrate to the customer they are getting the correct change.
In Math for the Middle Grades at WEST we’ll be learning this skill and practicing it a few times this year.