It seems to be a more common practice with New Jersey retailers than ever before. Being asked to round up your change at checkout.

Cashiers used to occasionally ask this question after our items were finished being rung up. The reason was almost exclusively for charity, and it was usually during a certain time of year.

Fast forward to today, and it's a bit different. Sure, some cashiers might still ask you that question, but it's been mostly moved to digital prompts.

This makes sense since the technology is there for it to prompt, and also since many checkout registers are now self-service without a cashier there to help you.

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But with automation becoming more of the norm, does it seem like these auto prompts asking you to round up your change more often? It feels like pretty much anywhere you go lately this has become the norm for most retailers.

So despite the frequency you get asked, one has to wonder. How many people actually round up their change? Do most of us do it, or do we not bother? And, does it even make a difference in the first place?

dollar denominations with fine coins

Do you do it?

Are you one of those customers who does? Or, do you hit the decline button and only pay what you owe? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

I know for me, I usually round up depending on what my overall total is. That, and I also base it on the amount I'm being asked to round.

For example, if the total I owe is $14.51, I most likely would round it to $15 and let that $0.49 go to charity. However, if my total is something like $5.01, I probably wouldn't round up 99 cents on such a low amount owed.

It really depends, but I'm more likely to round up if what I owe is on the higher side, and if the round-up amount isn't too extreme from the amount owed.

Isolated US Coins Pile
Eldad Carin, ThinkStock

Does it even matter?

I'm sure we're all in a similar boat here. Sometimes we might, and other times we might not.

But does what we donate even matter? How much of a difference are we actually making by rounding up less than a dollar?

It turns out, it makes quite a difference. According to NPR, "charities raised $749 million nationwide through so-called point-of-sale donations" throughout the year 2022.

Not only that but the amount raised at checkouts almost doubled since 2012. That means about twice as many people are now saying yes to rounding the change to the nearest dollar for charity.

Money / Earnings / piles of $100 bills

Inflation to thank?

The first thought that might pop into one's head is that this almost doubling in money raised for charity is due to inflation. After all, everything has gotten so much more expensive than it used to be.

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However, inflation and the high cost of goods actually have nothing to do with it. Since rounding up is voluntary, it's not something that adds to the overall profit retailers should be getting.

Simply put, we've been getting more generous. And that generosity has led to a huge win for local charities in your region.

Spare / loose change / coins / money

Less is more

It's not just the frequency of asking to round up the change that's making a difference. There's also a psychological aspect to it as well.

Think about the example I used above about how I'm more likely to donate 49 cents compared to 99 cents on The round-up. That's exactly why so much more is being raised.

You're more likely to say no if asked to donate a dollar, five dollars, or a specific amount at checkout simply because of how high the donation ask is. But donating what would be pocket change anyway is more of a no-brainer.

Especially if the change received includes pennies. Most of us wouldn't care if we let that go, and thus, why this method of raising money for charity works so well.

Spare / loose change / coins / money

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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