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May 2, 2008 7:07 AM   Subscribe

What mix of bills is the best for making change?

Our show opens this weekend and we are selling concessions - everything is a dollar. Last time I went with some mix of change that did not really work out - we ended up short on ones and fives as I recall. Due to ATMs we of course get a lot of 20's, and I am apparently crap at accounting for such a thing. We can get up to about $200 worth of change. What is the best mix of bills (and/or change, but I'd like to avoid coins if possible).

posted by Medieval Maven to Work & Money (9 answers total)
If your starting cash is $200.00, I would get 50 singles, $70 in 5's and $80 in tens. I have done many fundraisers over the years and the bulk of the people will give you fresh 20's out of the cash machine, at least for the first hour.
Fives are golden.
posted by readery at 7:21 AM on May 2, 2008

You can't go wrong if you just get all $1's... Though someone buying a $1 item with a $20 bill might not enjoy 19 $1 bills in change. I would suggest 75% of your change be $1 bills and 25% be $5 bills. If everything is a dollar, you shouldn't even have to worry about giving coins in change.
posted by LolaGeek at 7:21 AM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I worked fast food we never worried about having $10s -- really, is $15 in fives that bad? Just go for a mix of $1 and $5... maybe $100 of each...
posted by dagnyscott at 7:27 AM on May 2, 2008

As a potential customer, I'd much rather get an extra $5 bill than 5 extra $1 bills. Which is to say, skip out on the $10's and bulk up on $1's and $5's.
posted by mkultra at 7:27 AM on May 2, 2008

Yeah. I used to not see the point of 10's, but then your first six or seven customers buy something for a buck with a twenty and you are scrambling to make change and counting way too many singles. It's just a timesaver really.
posted by readery at 7:32 AM on May 2, 2008

Seconding that 10s are essentially worthless. No one will care about getting 2 fives instead of a ten, but when you run out of fives, those tens will be sitting dead in the till.

You'll be encountering mostly 20s and 1s as payment, so the 1s will mostly replenish over the day while the 5s generally drain. You want probably as many 5s as 1s ($18 in change from a 20 is 3 of each, for instance), so for $200 in change, go with $40 or $50 in singles, and everything else in fives.
posted by explosion at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2008

We have done this almost exactly this for a cashbox run extension cart for our retail shop (lots of things always at a buck). We had $100 in 1's and $100 in 5's. Worked perfectly.
posted by karmaville at 9:46 AM on May 2, 2008

I went to a festival once that gave out a lot of $2 bills as change. People ended up buying more just to get the $2 bills (it may have helped that it was a beer festival).

Still, echo the above to splurge on $5s, omit $10s and $20s.
posted by klangklangston at 10:41 AM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Will tipping be a part of this equation? I don't know much about this process from the seller's side, but as a (poor, grad student) customer there are some situations where I'd prefer getting five 1s instead of a five. For example the (practically fast food) near-campus eateries all have tips jars now, and I might tip a dollar if I get it's part of my change, but if I get a five I'm probably not going to bother asking for change (and I'm not tipping $5 on my $5 meal).
posted by chndrcks at 12:11 PM on May 2, 2008

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