Can Anyone Make Change For A $100?

What is going on with the math skills in America? With more and more young people using ATM cards, debit cards, and credit cards to make their purchases, I am beginning to wonder if anyone can make change of a $100 bill anymore. A few disclaimers about $100 bills in general before I tell you why I ask this important question. Number one, what’s the deal with people who work in $8.00 an hour jobs that actually check the $100 bill to see if it is counterfeit. The FBI can’t figure this out with all of their sophisticated technology, but Doris at the hot dog stand at the airport is going to figure the case out by holding the bill up in the light and swiping it with a highlighter pen?  Second, do convenience stores really not accept $100 bills or it is just that nobody there can make change for a $100 bill as well?  Just checking.

So . . . here’s the deal.  My family went out to a local neighborhood restaurant the other evening and the bill came to $72.73.  I gave our young waiter a $100 bill which seemed to have him a little perplexed because I guess most people pay with debit or credit card. I waited about 10 minutes to get back the check, and when I opened the billfold it sure appeared like there was a lot of money he gave me back as change. When I counted all the money up in the billfold, I got back exactly $72.73.  Yes, the waiter didn’t give me the change but instead he gave me the amount of the bill!  What a nice surprise to get a free dinner.  Just a few weeks back I had a very similar experience at another restaurant when I gave them a $100 bill, and recently a friend of mine had the same thing happen when they got their hair cut at a major chain.

One of the basic skills taught to children in their elementary years is how to count change. They learn how to make basic change of a $1 bill all the way up to making change of a $100 bill.  By the 5th grade and a few birthdays later, kids seem to get pretty good at counting money. As many of the young children acquire these basic math skills, they quickly forget them when they start using things like calculators, gift cards, and debit cards. Even though these types of electronic substitutes are supposed to make life easier, it makes me wonder how much it waters down the very basic math skills that all of us need to know to stay sharp in life.  This is especially true as teenagers take on their first basic jobs mostly in retail types stores which counting change can be a critical piece to success.

Can anybody make change for a $100 bill anymore?  I don’t know, but if you don’t test your employees skills at making change people will literally keep on taking home a free lunch!

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®

Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc

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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

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