Always Count The Cash

23 September 2014




There are times when I pay people with cash. For example, when I buy firewood from my neighbor, I always pay him with cash. When I pay someone with cash, I always count it out for them. And if someone gives me cash without counting it out, I count it out for them.

I always count the cash because I've heard stories about problems arising because the cash didn't get counted. Someone bought something and handed a wad of cash to the seller. The buyer had counted the money beforehand, and the seller assumed that the amount was correct. Neither party counted the cash during the transaction. Then, later, the buyer counted the cash and found it was short. 

I have a friend who bought a utility trailer from another friend. He paid with cash. No one counted it at the time of the transaction. Later, the seller found he was short some money. It was an honest mistake on the part of the person who handed over the cash. But it was an awkward and embarrassing situation that could have been totally averted by simply counting the cash.

With this in mind, I've always told my sons that if they pay an individual with cash, the cash always needs to be counted out when it is handed over. This is what is known as "wise fatherly advice." 

Nevertheless, my youngest son recently bought a used car and handed the seller some cash in an envelope. He counted it beforehand. The seller took it without counting it. A little while later, the seller called my son to tell him he was short $100.

It wasn't a major crisis. My son doesn't know what went wrong, but he assumed that the mistake was his and got the $100 to the seller. Nevertheless, it was an awkward situation that never would have happened if if my son had followed my advice (which he has heard more than once over the years).

I'm wondering…. 

Does anyone reading this have a story about a problem that arose because the cash didn't get counted? 

Or, can you recollect a time when you ignored some wise fatherly advice, and later regretted it?



17 comments:

Vicki said...

I have one bill that is paid via money order. Everything else is paid in cash, including my rent. I count out the cash when paying my landlord. I count out the cash when paying for groceries. I count out the cash I receive as change. I have never had a problem. Because I count out the cash. Great advice.

Gail said...

There are a rare few that can count cash backwards as in counting the change from the purchase price. Too many rely on machines.

I retired from many years with the postal service and always counted the change back and the money handed to me was left in sight to avoid any question about it later.

I also do a double crinkle of new bills since sometimes they stick together. A gentleman handed me two hundreds and I crinkled them. Two too many! I chased him down to hand him his money. He said he was wondering at how quickly his money had gone. In our conversation he mentioned buying groceries. I suggested he go back there to see if his hundreds had stuck there too. He did and they had. The clerk gave him his extra money and he came back by to thank me.

Honesty does feel good. Counting money is double wise.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

You would be surprised at how many people can't count cash or make change. I usually figure in my head what bills I should get back and can keep track of it when they don't count. Some day when the power fails and electric money won't work.

landlady said...

Fast food people can't count cash. Try it...give them the exact change and a fifty. Like in $12.53..unless the machine does it they are clueless.

Gorges Smythe said...

I think some of the tellers at the bank get peeved with me when I count the cash they've given me in front of them. Yet, since I've been dealing there, errors have always been that they've given me TOO MUCH money, not too little.

Anonymous said...

As a former 5th grade teacher I always taught counting money, making change and counting change back as a survival skill. While homeschooling my nephews would send them in for take with a 20 or 50 and have them count the change back to me. It is a skill that must be taught. 2 weekends ago got $14.53 change back when giving a cashier $10.53 for a $9.53 bill. Went to McDonalds and was given $1.50 too much. Those were the best employees because they were working the registers. Sad. Teach your own kids because schools won't.

SharonR said...

I haven't got a story to tell of counting change, but I do have a story of not following fatherly advice. Now, there are few exceptions that my brothers or I disobeyed my dad (it was different with my mother). But about the year 1970, when we were at a friend's house for a few days, Daddy told me now would be a good time to do that report on the British Honduras. They had a good set of encyclopedias. I was having such a good time, that I didn't take his advice, and paid for it later by the stress of staying up all night working on it and with a lower grade, I'm sure because of the rush. I've looked back many times and regretted not following that simple one hour or so suggestion. In case no one caught that, the British Honduras is now, since 1981, "Belize". Just a little added history lesson.

Jonathan Sanders said...

My proverbial advice to my kids was, "Trust everyone, but count your change." We all make mistakes.

And as others mentioned, I love to watch the reactions when I give "helpful" amounts to the clerk. When the bill is $10.82, and you give them $21.07, you get some fun responses such as, "Here, you gave me too much," as they try to give you the dollar and 7 cents back. I smile and say, "just punch it in."

Anonymous said...

I happened to go to the bank with a friend in high school. Her mother was the teller and my friend made a withdrawal..I was shocked to see that after her mother counted it out to her ,my friend also counted it out again out loud right in front of her mother. I had always thought that counting out the money was a sign you did not trust a person. That little scene has always stayed in my head.

Diana R.Smith said...

even at the drive up window at the bank I count my cash before I leave...one time almost two hundred dollars short. Had two transactions in any envelope and teller only had noted one and the envelope was found in the trash can!

It is sad people can't even make change anymore. At my nursing home two lovely eighty something ladies could multiply 3 digits by 3 digits in their heads still. Not to mention giving a Flag day speech that would embarrass our politicians today and brought tears to your eyes. Public schools are falling down on the job, in my opinion.

Patrick Roehrman said...

I grew up working in a concession stand for 4H and our leader always made us count back change starting with the pennies and count back and you always laid their money on top of the drawer until the sail was over so there wasn't any question to what they paid. This is a very valuable leson just this last week I caught two people trying to over pay me because they didn't count back the change.

Patrick Roehrman said...

I like doing that as well :D some people act as if you are trying to trick them!

Nick L. said...

I don't mean to sound like a godfather don, but hey it's nothing personal it's just business. I remember once when we were closing out at the end of the day and three different people counted a stack of twentys and came up with three different results. Bills can stick together, people can get distracted or make mistakes. When I get rid of a handful pocket change while buying something I always wait at the register to make sure I didn't make a mistake. Being pleasant and showing concern over accuracy while completing the transaction should allay any hurt feelings over mistrust.
Nick L.

cntrydad said...

I paid cash for a car one time and when I pulled the wad from my pocket, one twenty stayed behind. The gentleman counted and I felt a little embarrassed when he came up twenty short. I'll follow your advice and count it out when I pass it over from now on.

Herrick Kimball said...

The following comment to this article came to me by E-mail…

Years ago, as a young man, I managed a small retail store for a large chain. I had three employees. It was Christmas time. People were tired from working long hours and from all the stress of the holidays. A few days before Christmas, the cash drawer came up exactly $100 short. I knew all my employees well and I trusted them. Still, we were $100 short. The next couple weeks were really tense. I knew that I didn't take the money, so that only left one of three who could have taken it. It totally changed the dynamics of our working relationship and our friendship. Each of us was wondering who could do such a thing.

I was very close to my employees. One of them was in the hospital for a while and I smuggled in a pizza for him. Think that it is easy to smuggle a hot pizza into a hospital at night after visiting hours? Try it sometime.

Myself and the three employees were asked to take a lie detector test. Aha, we thought, now we will get to the bottom of this. You could imaging our bewilderment when we all passed with flying colors. None of us took the money, but the money was still gone.

About a month later, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who happened to work at the bank we used. I asked him, what do you do if you are over at the end of the day. He said we wait for someone to claim it. So I asked if I gave you a date and a teller number, could you tell me if my bank deposit contained $100 more than stated on the deposit ticket. He said he could.

I gave the banker the deposit ticket and sure enough, we deposited $100 more than we stated on the deposit ticket. An error was made counting the cash. He gladly made the adjustment and all was well.

The take away is that good accounting and accountability makes for good friends. Simple mistakes involving cash can destroy friendships and create hurt feelings that can easily be avoided.

Always count the cash, twice!

Russel L.

Tucanae Services said...

It amazes me the number of people who don't know how to count back change. Order is $8.72, I hand them a $20. I should get back a $10, $1, a quarter and 3 pennies.

True story. Many years ago I walked into a Taco Bell for a quick meal. At the register the attendant told me they could not sell me anything. ??? on my face. "The registers are down" was the reply. Evidently their server in the back had crashed. An entire days sales because they were so automated the tellers could not write the order and count back change. Sigh...

Nick L. said...

The Taco Bell story reminded me of the time the same thing happened in a take out pizza chain. Only this time the clerk took my order down on paper, figured the total, went in the back to get the order, got it to me in a reasonable time, and apologized that he could not give me a receipt because the computers were down. He did the same for three other customers who came in while I was there. I told him I saw what he did and I appreciated the hustle and then gave him a tip. If I had a business I would have hired him on the spot, a guy like that I could train to do anything. Thinking on your feet has become a rare talent.

Nick L