$1 Billion and Change

While getting $0.71 of change at a coffee shop today, I started to wonder just how much time is actually consumed by the act of “getting change”.

So I calculated it, and the answer is that $1 billion of time is consumed in the USA waiting for change.

That’s actually a bit smaller than I expected. And I calculate the total number of retail purchases at ~48 billion/year, so assuming $0.50 cents of change per purchase, it would cost consumers $24 billion per year to say “keep the change”.

I guess I’ll keep waiting for payment practices to change!

June 13, 2014 at 8:57:15 PM
1
retail sales = ($400 × 10^9) × 12
$4.80×1012
2
avg purchase = $30
$30.00
3
percent cash = 30%
30%
4
total cash purchases = retail sales / avg purchase × percent cash
4.8×1010
5
seconds per change = 4 seconds
4 seconds
6
time spent = total cash purchases × change
1.92×1011 seconds
7
total_hours = spent in hours
53,333,333.3333333333 hours
8
avg_wage = 20$ / hour
20 $/hour
9
cost = total_hours × avg_wage
$1.07×109

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