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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Keeping Track of Money

Shopping and paying for the things you buy are basic daily activities. If you have difficulty telling one coin from another or distinguishing between a one-dollar bill and a twenty-dollar bill, there are simple, immediate remedies to eliminate that problem.

Identifying Coins by Touch

Have a friend or relative hand you, one by one, a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and half-dollar. Focus on the differences in size, thickness, and edge.

  • Size. The dime is the smallest coin, and the half-dollar is the largest.

  • Edge. The penny and the nickel have a smooth edge. The dime, quarter, and half-dollar have a milled, ridged edge.

  • Thickness. The nickel is thicker than the other coins.

With a little practice you'll soon be able to recognize each of them instantly by feel. A nickel is fairly easy to identify because of its thickness, and the dime because of its size. The penny is the only coin of usual thickness with a smooth edge. A coin that is larger than a dime and has a milled edge has to be either a quarter or half-dollar—and it's almost always going to be a quarter because half-dollars don't seem to be in wide circulation.

Identifying Bills by Fold

By folding denominations of bills in different ways, you can easily locate them in your wallet. Here's how:

  • Leave $1 bills unfolded.
  • Fold $5 bills lengthwise.
  • Fold $10 bills by width.
  • Fold $20 bills lengthwise and then by width. Or you can fold them just lengthwise and put them in a separate section of your wallet.

To get some practice, ask a friend or relative to put a few coins and folded bills in an envelope, then have you tell her what's inside. Start with individual amounts of each type, then subtotals, and total. Then have your friend ask you to give her specific amounts of money—as you would do in a grocery store.

Learn more in Prescriptions for Independence, by Nora Griffin-Shirley, Ph.D., and Gerda Groff.

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