Math Money Problems: Instruction for Using Money in Math

You'll begin working with money in 2nd grade math, and you'll continue using this important skill for the rest of your life. Read on to learn the basics of using money in math class.

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Math Problems with Money

Types of Money

To solve math problems that involve money, you'll need to know the value of each coin and bill. Pennies are worth one cent (1¢), and a dollar ($1) equals 100 cents. There are also coins that are equal to smaller amounts of cents. For example, a nickel equals five cents (5¢), and a dime is worth ten cents (10¢). There's also a quarter, which is equal to 25 cents (25¢). In addition to the 1-dollar bill, there are also bigger bills, like the 5-dollar bill ($5), 10-dollar bill ($10) and 20-dollar bill ($20).

Solving Money Problems

Now that you understand the value of the different types of money, you can solve problems that ask you to exchange different amounts of money. For example, if your friend has five pennies and one nickel, which coins could she exchange her money for? Since you know that one nickel is equal to five pennies, you can add this to the other five pennies (5 + 5 = 10). This means that your friend has ten cents (10¢), which is worth one dime, two nickels or ten pennies.

You might also be asked to add up the total number of cents that several different coins represent. For instance, if you have three pennies and two nickels, how many cents do you have altogether? Each nickel equals five cents, and you have two, so you can add their values to the value of the three pennies. Since 5 + 5 + 3 = 13, you have 13¢ total.

Practice Problems

Use these problems to practice working with money. Then, check the answer key to see if your solutions are correct.

1. Christina wants to buy a pen that costs 23¢. She has two nickels and one dime. Does she have enough money to buy the pen?
2. Alex has 17 pennies and Leo has three nickels. Who has more money, Alex or Leo?
3. Leslie had 16 pennies and one nickel, but she let her friend borrow three cents. How much money does she have left?

Answer Key

1. Christina has two nickels, which are worth five cents each. She also has one dime, which is worth ten cents. You can add these numbers together to get the solution: 5 + 5 + 10 = 20. Since 20¢ is less than 23¢, Christina doesn't have enough money to buy the pen.
2. Alex's 17 pennies are worth 17¢, and Leo's three nickels are worth five cents each. Since 5 + 5 + 5 = 15, this means Leo has only 15¢, which is less than 17¢. As a result, Alex has more money than Leo.
3. Leslie started out with 16 pennies, or 16¢, and one nickel, which is equal to five cents. Since 16 + 5 = 21, Leslie had 21¢. She gave away three cents, so she's left with 18¢ (21 - 3 = 18).
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