How to Set Up a Cash Drawer

by Contributing Writer ; Updated September 26, 2017

Properly setting up a cash drawer is an important aspect of any retail business. A poorly configured cash drawer can be a real problem when it comes time to make change for a customer or tally up the day's totals. Taking a few minutes to set up a cash drawer properly and creating procedures to keep it that way can eliminate many problems.

Decide how much cash to start the drawer with at the beginning of the day or shift. Many businesses use $250, as it is a relatively low number that still allows for making change. You may wish to start with a higher or lower number based on experience or the nature of your business.

Add change and bills to equal your starting amount and place them in the drawer. Only use $20 bills and smaller to make up this amount, as larger bills will rarely be used to make change. A good rule of thumb is to start with a mix of about $30 worth of rolled and loose change in the drawer and at least $100 worth of $1 and $5 bills. Over time, you'll get a better feel for the needs of your particular business.

Record your starting cash amounts, including the totals for each type of bill and coin. Keep this information in your cash-count log for future reference.

Remove excess cash from the cash register at the end of every shift or whenever you reset the register for bank deposits. Repeat this procedure on a schedule to get an idea of how your cash levels vary over time. Make sure to leave the starting amount of cash at the end of each period.

Use your bank bag and get change early. Don't wait until you run out of change to make a run to the bank for change. Try to always have at least one roll of each coin on hand at all times.


  • Keep rubber bands or paper clips in your cash register and clip large stacks of bills together for easy counting. Counting three stacks of twenty-five $1 bills is much faster than counting all seventy-five bills.

Photo Credits

  • Jens Lambert/Demand Media
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