Regardless of the type of cash register you use in your business, you should always begin with a set amount of money in the cash drawer. That cash, your "float," should enable you to provide change throughout the day to your customers. Just as importantly, counting down to that same amount at the end of a shift lets you quickly determine how much money you've taken, and whether it reconciles with the sales recorded by your register.
Print out the statement from the day's earnings before closing out the cash register. This gives you an accurate statement to compare to the amount of money in the drawer.
Count off the pre-set amount from the drawer first, keeping the same balance small bills and change you'll need to begin again at the start of the day. A typical start-up amount ranges between $100 and $150. Set that start-up amount aside.
Create a list containing bill denominations so you can record the amounts as you count them off. At the top of the list, add in the start-up amount.
Count off big bills first and work your way down to smaller bills and change. Record each denomination as you count it off. For example if the largest bills in your till were three $50 bills, you'd write down 3 X $50, and a total of $150. Repeat that process for each smaller size of bill, then for the change.
Close out the shift's transactions on your credit card machine and ensure it balances, then write down and total your day's checks. If your cash register doesn't give you separate totals for each payment method, subtract your credit card and check receipts from the total. What's left is the amount of cash that should be in your register.
Add the total bills and coins you've written down. It's easiest if you make neat columns, or use a preprinted form. Compare your total to the amount of cash you're supposed to have. You'll seldom be exactly correct, because of human error, but should be within a relatively few dollars of the right amount.
You can also round the numbers up to the nearest dollar to avoid working with small change.
If you record your cash variance every day, you'll soon learn what's normal for a given week, or day of the week. Any sudden change in those figures could signal a need for staff re-training, or in a worst case that you have a problem with employee theft.
It's good practice to have a second staffer count the cash, to catch any errors and deter theft.
Jennifer Hudock is an author, editor and freelancer from Pennsylvania. She has upcoming work appearing in two Library of the Living Dead Press anthologies and has been published in numerous print and online journals, including eMuse, Real TV Addict and Strange Horizons. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing from Bloomsburg University.