How to Count Out Change

Before calculators and computerized cash registers, people actually had to count out change by hand. Counting backwards ensures the accurate return of change. It is also important to count this way in your own mind when someone is giving you change during a purchase. If you do not know how to give or receive change from a large bill, you will never be sure that you were given the correct amount or whether the other person might have made an error or tried to cheat you. Making change is not difficult to do. This article presents an easy and accurate method of counting out change.


  1. Image titled Count Out Change Step 1
    State aloud the purchase price. Then state the amount of money the buyer handed you. Let's say the purchase price is $5.22, and the buyer hands you a ten-dollar bill. You would say, $5.22 out of $10."
  2. Image titled Count Out Change Step 2
    Starting with pennies, count out the change. Start the counting at the purchase price, and start counting pennies until you get to get to the next coin or bill size.
    • Example: $5.22 out of $10.00.
      Counting out pennies: $5.23... $5.24... $5.25...
      Counting out quarters: $5.50... $5.75... $6.00.
  3. Image titled Count Out Change Step 3
    Continue with dollar bills. Counting out dollar bills: $7.00... $8.00... $9.00... $10.00.
  4. Image titled Count Out Change Step 4
    If necessary, use the next bill size to continue giving change until you reach the denomination of the bill ($10, $ 20, $50, etc.) the customer gave you (not the purchase price). If the buyer had handed you a twenty-dollar bill in the example instead of a ten, you would then count from $10 to $20 by handing the buyer a ten-dollar bill.


  • Practice by getting a lot of pennies, nickels, and dimes, and use monopoly money if you do not have bills. Then make believe you are spending (or receiving) different amounts, and count backwards, until you learn to do this easily and quickly.
  • It is a good idea to place the money you receive on top of the register or in any visible place instead of putting it straight into the till. This could save you embarrassment or disputes, in case you are distracted and forget what the customer gave you.


  • Never accept change or walk away from the counter until you have made sure that you have the right change. Do not be embarrassed if it takes you a little while to count backwards. You'll improve soon.
  • Watch for short-change artists who request different denominations of change after the change-making process has already begun. They will usually wait until you have the change ready and then start trying to "exchange" one denomination for another. "Can I get two fives instead of a ten?" "Wait, if I give you back this five, can I have it in ones?" They may be hoping you'll end up giving them more than they gave you. If a customer starts requesting changes of denomination, and you feel confused, just close your drawer (with all the money in it), and let them know you’ll need to call a supervisor to count the till. If a customer is honest, s/he won’t mind.

Article Info

Categories: Finance and Business