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Rounding When the Cent is Gone
February 08, 2010

I conducted an experiment in rounding on Friday. I didn’t realize I was doing it until I was nearly done.

Rounding is a concept that is pertinent to numismatics because it is the suggested remedy to abolishing the cent.

Cash transactions that end with one or two cents get rounded down to arrive at the final total. Cash transactions that total three or four cents get rounded up to the next nickel amount.

In the course of time all of the roundings come out to zero. The users of the system neither gain nor lose money through the absence of the one-cent coin.

On Friday I was doing my Berlin trip expense report. The receipts are in euro. The company wants the numbers converted to dollars. The spreadsheet keeps a running total.

The rounding experiment occurred in the hotel bill. The spreadsheet gets the total and I have to break it down item by item. As each item is entered, the running total gets closer and closer to the final number.

As I was converting each item into dollars and rounding up or down to the nearest cent I was thinking to myself about what I would do if the numbers didn’t match. Obviously, accounting departments don’t like unbalanced accounts.

I needn’t have worried. By following the standard rounding convention, all of the numbers added up to the penny.

I had my expense report completed and I had a lesson in just how rounding works in real life.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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