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It's a few decades old, about a man interacting with a genie. The genie was not very powerful, and could only grant wishes with a cash value of something like $1.97.

And eventually, the man figures out something he wants he can actually wish for...

marked as duplicate by Valorum story-identification Aug 4 '17 at 14:42

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  • Welcome to the site! Great start. Take a look at this guide to help jog your memory and see if you can edit in any more details. – amflare Aug 3 '17 at 16:29
  • If that isn't it, it's close enough! Now I just have to figure out in which anthology or magazine I read it. So...where is this check mark? I don't see one. – Tony A. Aug 4 '17 at 2:42
  • Any of these covers look familiar? – user14111 Aug 4 '17 at 7:17

It's a god, not a genie; his limit is $1.98, not $1.97; and it's the god who figures out how to make the man happy for only $1.98. The story is "$1.98" by Arthur Porges, also the answer to the old question Hero rescues a minor deity, granted a wish of small value; gets a [SPOILER]. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1954, available at the Internet Archive.

"You mentioned a—a reward," he said diffidently.

"I certainly did," the god answered him, swinging on a dandelion stem and kicking minute bare feet luxuriously. "But, alas, only a small one. I am, as you see, a very small god."

"Oh," Will said, rather crestfallen. Then brightening:L "May I suggest that a small fortune—?" Truly the presence of an immortal was sharpening his wits.

"Of course. But it would have to be exceedingly small. I couldn't go above $1.98."

"Is that all?" Will's voice was heavy with disappointment.

"I'm afraid it is. We minor gods are always pinched for funds. Perhaps a different sort of gift—"

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