Got Change?

Apr 13, 2009

RAY: This is from my money and finance series, and was sent in by Frank Ford. He writes:

"I work in a small music store that specializes in stringed instruments. We generally don't have many, or any, customers early in the day. But one day, recently, there was fellow who walked in right at 11 A.M. when I opened the door for business.

"He bought a set of light gauge guitar strings and an assortment of flat picks and a few other things. The bill came to $13.59 including the sales tax. He opened his wallet and immediately began to apologize.

"He said, 'Oh, I'm sorry, all I have is a 50-dollar bill,' implying that my cheesy little music store probably couldn't make change this early in the morning.

"'No problem,' I said as I grabbed the bill from his hand. I was a little suspicious, however, so I checked his $50 over carefully. It was legitimate. As I gave him his change, we each noticed something that made us both smile and say, 'Hey, that's kind of cool.'

"The question is, what did we notice?"
RAY: Here's the answer. The bill was $13.59, so his change was $36.41 from the 50. And how would you get $36.41 change? You'd give the customer a twenty, a ten, a five, a one, a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny. So he's getting one of each of all the things that are in the compartments.

TOM: No kidding!

RAY: Yes. No Susan B. Anthony dollars or Sacagawea coins. Most cash registers have a place for twenties, tens, fives and ones, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. And that's about it, and the fifties and hundreds they stick in their pocket.

TOM: That's pretty cute.

RAY: Do we have a winner?

TOM: Yeah. We have a winner. It's Chuck Yates from Pulaski, Virginia. And for having his answer selected at random from all the correct answers that we got, Chuck is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, which with Chuck can get any of our fine Car Talk CD collections.

RAY: I didn't realize we had any fine CD collections. I thought they were all more or less like our show, like lousy.

TOM: Well, it's artistic license. Congratulations, Chuck!

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