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Tips on Keeping a Cash Drawer in Balance

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Keeping a cash drawer balanced is one of the most difficult aspects of working in retail or food service, especially when a store or restaurant is busy. However, being careful and aware of the potential ways money can be lost will help to make sure the register always balances.

Pay Attention

Losing focus is the most common reason for a cash drawer to be short at the end of the day. Cash handed in should always be counted by the sales assistant before being typed into the cash register and then once more before being placed into the drawer. Cash to be returned to a customer should always be counted first by the cashier into his own hand and then counted into the customer's hand. While this will add a few seconds to the transaction, it should not be discarded even when busy. It's especially important when busy as the cashier can easily be distracted by other customers in her queue or coworkers. Cashiers should also not chat with other people or answer the phone while giving or receiving cash.


Security protocols must always be followed when it comes to cash procedures. There are a few common scams that all cashiers must be aware of when operating the cash register. If a customer asks for change of a note, the cashier should lay the note out on the counter in front of the customer. Only then should he begin to count notes out for change. The cashier should count the change twice and check the note to make sure it is not counterfeit before handing over any cash from the register. This is to prevent the customer from saying that he gave a different denomination.

If a customer says that they have been given the wrong change from any transaction, the till should be counted to verify this. While often genuine, this can be a scam performed when a store or restaurant is busy in the hopes that a flustered sales assistant will unquestioningly hand over money. It is also possible that a customer is mistaken and did in fact receive the correct change.

Check the Balance

Cash drawers should always be counted at the beginning of a shift, at the end of a shift, when a cashier goes for a break or when a new cashier takes over the register. To balance a cash drawer, there are two steps. First, take the beginning cash amount, or the amount that was in the drawer at the beginning of the day, and subtract that number from the day's sales up to that point. This figure should match the amount that has been taken in through that register. Second, to figure out the amount taken in that day, add up all the cash in the drawer, the credit card and check amounts and any coupons. Subtract any money that has been added to the till as well as the beginning cash amount. The second figure calculated should match the first. The difference between these two is the amount the drawer is short or over.


Edie Grace has been writing and editing since 2008. Her work has been published in medical magazines and aired on radio. She has written about skin conditions, cardiovascular health and surgery. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and music and a Master of Arts in journalism.

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