With all the conveniences of the modern world, the vast majority of financial transactions now occurs on a digital platform. People use ATMs to get or deposit funds, for example, and they routinely turn to the Internet to make purchases and move money from one account to another. This has greatly increased the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of financial tasks, but at an educational price: Children and teens (and admittedly, many adults) have trouble making change manually. They rely on registers, calculators, or in a pinch, a pen and paper.
The Basic Problem
When kids go to make change, they typically fail to see that change has parts—that is, instead of seeing the individual bills and coins that make it up, they see the total to give back. For example, instead of a penny, a dime, and six dollars, they see $6.11. It’s good to know the total amount of change you are supposed to give back, but when kids see only the total, they aren’t always sure of how to get that amount. For instance, to give back $5, you could just give back a five dollar bill, but you could also give five $1 bills, or you could give four $1 bills and four quarters. Children are not taught any basic rule for deciding what change to provide, so they hesitate, making mistakes as they rush.
The Rule to Follow
To make making change easier for your children, teach them that, rather than concentrating on the amount to give back, their job is to simply count up from the amount spent to the amount given. As they do this, they should use the largest denominations whenever possible. As an example, suppose a customer buys something for $6.54 out of a $10. Your child would count “$6.54, $6.55, $6.65, $6.75, $7.00, $8.00, $9.00, $10.00.” The money involved thus would be a penny, a dime, a quarter, and three $1 bills.
Why This Method Rocks
When you teach your child to count up to make change, there is no need to first figure out what the total owed back is. He can start putting the change together right away as a result, shortening the time the customer has to wait for her money. He also can repeat the counting process as he hands back the change, easily proving to the customer that he has provided the right amount. This method also means that your child will be able to make change consistently. In the $6.54 example above, for instance, the answer will always be a penny, dime quarter, and three $1 bills.
Two More Quick Tips
Many people start giving change by saying “[Amount] is your change, thank you…,” which means they don’t need to count anything out. Instead of saying this, your child can say, “Your total spent is [amount]. Out of [amount given], [go through counting], and [last amount in the counting sequence] makes [amount given].”)
As your child learns to make change, encourage him to always give the coins first. The first reason for this is that, if you are counting up properly, you will always go through the coins first before you can get to a bill. The second is that handing over the change first makes it easier for the customer to hold. If your child gives the bills first, the customer is forced to clench his hand around the