I love money. I love the smell of it. I love the feel of it as I swim around in it à la Scrooge McDuck. OK, I don’t roll around in it. But I really do enjoy it. I love learning about it too. When FXX was running a “The Simpsons” marathon last summer, I knew I couldn’t miss the $10 trillion dollar bill episode. It is easily my favorite.
While the story is fictional, it made me consider, “What are some real facts about money that would be fun to learn about?” After burning the midnight oil and reading through the National Archives, I have the following money facts I know you will enjoy.
36 Fun Facts About Money
#1. One bill weighs 1 gram and 454 bills equal one pound. This means if you have $1 million in singles, it would weigh over 1 ton! A suitcase of $1 million in $100 bills weighs over 20 pounds!
Speaking of $100 bills, close to 80% of the U.S. currency is in $100 bills. The odd thing is I rarely see a $100 bill, not to mention most places I go have signs saying they no longer accept them.
#2. The Federal Reserve is missing 2/3 of the $100 bills they printed. They counted up all of the $100 bills there are in banks, cash registers, etc. and found that close to 2/3 of the $100 bills are unaccounted for. In other words, they are most likely overseas.
Conspiracy theorists are on the case and blaming The Illuminati!
#3. The most counterfeited denomination of money is the $20 bill. The next most counterfeited bill is the $100 bill.
In foreign countries, the US $100 bill is the most frequently counterfeited. And since we are on the topic of counterfeiting, according to the Coinage Act of 1972, counterfeiting by Mint employees is punishable by death.
#4. North Korea is the largest counterfeiter. North Korea has mastered the art of counterfeiting U.S. currency, specializing in a perfect replica of our $50 and $100 bills.
Their fakes are so impressive that they are referred to as “superdollars,” and require specialized equipment at the Federal Reserve to be detected.
As of 2009, an estimated $45 million worth of these fake bills have been identified.
#5. Emerich Juettner was a pro at counterfeiting. Actually, he was horrible at counterfeiting but was smart in how and when he spent his fake bills.
He worked his scam by counterfeiting $1 bills and made just enough to survive. As a result, it took the U.S. Secret Service 10 years to catch him. And when they did, he only spent 4 months in prison.
The best part of this money fact is that a film was made about Emerich Juettner and his counterfeiting ways, which ended up making him more money than he made from counterfeiting.
#6. The typical lifespan of a $1 bill is just 18 months. While the lifespan of a $100 bill is close to 9 years. And you thought dogs aged fast!
Here is a total breakdown:
- $1 bill: 18 months
- $5 bill: 2 years
- $10 bill: 3 years
- $20 bill: 4 years
- $50 bill: 9 years
- $100 bill: 9 years
- Coins: 30 years
#7. You can make your worn out money crisp again. It takes about 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backward) before a bill will tear.
#8. Money is recycled when worn out. Worn out coins are melted down and used to make new coins. Worn out bills are shredded, recycled, and then made into roof shingles or fireplace logs.
#9. Money is dirty. We’ve all heard how dirty money is and how reportedly there are traces of cocaine on 90% of paper money, but did you know that money is dirtier than a household toilet?
How about the fact that the flu virus can live on a bill for up to 17 days! Note to self, stop putting money in your mouth when in a hurry at the checkout line!
#10. The Secret Service was originally made to fight counterfeiting. In July of 1865, the U.S. Secret Service was created during the Civil War to fight counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting was a huge problem back then, and by the end of the war between 1/3 and 1/2 of all U.S. paper currency in circulation was counterfeit.
#11. Before the Federal Reserve in 1913, each bank printed its own money. Oh to be a bank employee in 1910! I’d have suits made out of $100 bills. No wonder the rich would light their cigars with $100s!
#12. Germans used money as wallpaper. After World War I, hyperinflation wreaked havoc on the German currency, causing it to lose almost all of its value.
As a result, people would give money to kids to play with, and many people used it as wallpaper.
#13. Move to Zimbabwe to be a billionaire overnight. Around the start of the 2000s, Zimbabwe experienced hyperinflation that peaked in 2008.
Just how bad was the hyperinflation? At the peak, a single U.S. Dollar was worth 2,621,984,228 Zimbabwe Dollars. So if you had just a $1 bill and moved to Zimbabwe, you would be a billionaire.
Unfortunately, a loaf of bread cost 10,487,936,912 Zimbabwe Dollars.
#14. More monopoly money is printed in a given year than money in the entire world. How crazy is that? I wonder why Rich Uncle Pennybags is never mentioned on the Forbes Billionaires List?
#15. Speaking of printing money, The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing (also called the “Money Factory”) has two active facilities from which it prints money today. Combined, these two facilities use an astounding 9.7 tons of ink per day.
I want to know which company they buy the ink from so I can invest my money there!
#16. The ink used to print money is high tech. So high tech that it has trackable, magnetic, and color changing properties.
#17. The blue ribbon in $100 bills dances. The blue ribbon woven through the new hundred dollar bill contains thousands of micro lenses that give the appearance of the Liberty Bell dancing.
#18. Money engravers are extremely skilled. Not only do money engravers work with incredible precision, but they also have to illustrate backwards.
The designs they cut into the plates is the mirror image of what it will look like when it is printed.
Think this job sounds fun? It takes close to 15 years of training to become an engraver.
#19. Only 8% of the world’s currency is actual physical money. No, the rest isn’t Bitcoin. The majority of transactions are all done digitally so no physical currency exchanges hands.
Think about how often you pay for things with your credit or debit card, or online using PayPal. This is why only 8% of currency is physical money.
#20. The U.S. once made a $100,000 bill. The largest bill ever produced (no not the $10 trillion dollar bill) was the $100,000 gold certificate. It was made to be used between banks and not for the general public.
#21. Secret designs on the $1 bill links it to the original 13 colonies. If you look closely at the $1 bill, you will notice a few interesting things tied to the number 13 which is a reference to the original 13 colonies. For example:
- 13 different representations of the number 13 on the bill.
- 13 steps on the pyramid.
- 13 vertical bars on the shield.
- 13 horizontal stripes on the top of the shield.
- 13 stars above the eagle.
- 13 leaves and 13 berries on the olive branch in one of the eagle’s talons, and in its other there are 13 arrows.
- On the front of the bill, on the Department of Treasury seal, there are 13 stars above the key.
#22. All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a $5 bill. In order to read them, you are going to need a magnifying glass.
#23. Over 60 communities throughout the U.S. have their own local currency. Walt Disney World is one such place. Here is a list of the others.
#24. Quarters and dimes have ridges because people used to “shave” the edges of the coins when they were made of pure metal. Merchants had to weigh the coins to make sure they were receiving unshaved coins. The ridges made it almost impossible to shave them.
The coins still have ridges today, even though they aren’t made of pure metal any longer so blind people can distinguish between them easier.
#25. Pennies in your garden deter pests. Pennies buried in a garden will repel slugs, which get electric shocks from touching copper and zinc.
#26. A penny costs more to manufacture than it is worth. It costs the government roughly $0.02 to make a single penny. No wonder we’re in debt!
#27. Loose change really does add up. In 2015 the TSA collected $765,759.15 in loose change at airport security checkpoints across the country.
This proves you should download the free Qapital app and take advantage of your loose change.
And if you were wondering what happened to the loose change the TSA collected, they kept all of it.
#28. The average allowance is now $65 a month. You read that right. Long gone are the days of getting $5 for an allowance. According to a survey, kids today get close to $800 a year from an allowance.
All I know is if I were a kid today, I would be investing that money so I could retire by the time I hit 40!
#29. Curious where piggy banks originated from? In Old English “pygg” was a type of clay that was used for making jars and dishes that held money. Over generations, the word eventually morphed into “piggy bank.”
#30. There are ATMs on every continent on Earth. There are over 1.6 million ATMs in the world, and there is even one in Antarctica.
When are ATMs used most? Friday is the most popular day at the ATM. The average amount people withdraw is $80.
#31. More than half of lottery tickets sold are bought by 5% of people. While it is fun to play the lottery once in a while and dream of a life with $200 million, the reality is we barely have a chance of winning.
Someone needs to tell these 5% of people that they could be doing much better financially if they simply invested the money they used to buy lottery tickets.
#32. The lottery kills you. Sticking with the lottery, a person who drives 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket is 3 times more likely to die in a car accident while driving to buy the ticket than they are in winning the lottery.
Just another reason why you are better off saving and investing your money instead.
#33. Pablo Escobar spent $2,500 a month in rubber bands. How about that money fact? When his drug cartel was booming, they spent $2,500 a month to hold all of the bricks of money together.
#34. Rats like to eat money. And if that last money fact wasn’t crazy enough for you, how about this one. Pablo Escobar had so much money in his warehouse that rats ate roughly $1 billion and it didn’t matter.
Must be nice to lose that amount of money and not care.
#35. A coin once sold for over $40 million dollars. The 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $43.7 million dollars. It is a rare coin made by a rogue Mint employee. Apparently, there are only 5 known to be in existence. Anyone think J$ has one and isn’t telling us?
And while we are on the subject of rare coins, here are the 5 rarest coins according to Klay O’Bier, resident numismatist (a fancy word for “rare coin expert”), for the United States Gold Bureau:
- 1849 Double Eagle: No 1849 Double Eagles were struck for circulation and only two proof versions of the coin are known to exist. One of the coins is a part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. A second coin was presented to then-Treasury Secretary William M. Meredith and was later sold as part of his estate. The present location of this coin remains unknown. If this coin ever surfaces into the market, it would easily sell for more than $10 million.
- 1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar: This was one of the most valuable U.S. coins until the sale of the 1933 Double Eagle in 2002. Because dies were used until they wore out, most of the silver dollars minted in 1804 were dated 1803. Only 8 examples of the 1804 are known to exist.
- 1776 Continental Dollar: In 1776, the Revolutionary War was underway and the U.S. wanted to show its independence by producing its own currency. The coins were originally to be minted in silver but the U.S. could not secure a loan of the metal. The circulating coins were minted using a pewter alloy. Although the coins had no intrinsic value, they were much more desired than paper currency. An entire book could be written on the significance of this piece.
- 1880 $4 Stella (coiled hair): The Stella was one of many proposals made to Congress for an international trade coin, with a face value of $4 to match the value of the Spanish 20-paseta, Dutch 8-florin, Austrian 8-florin, Italian 20-lire, and French 20-franc pieces. Very few of the coins were minted and given to members of the U.S. Congress. Eyebrows were raised when some of the coins later turned up at area brothels. A Proof 66 example sold at auction in 2005 for $977,500.
- 1915-S Pan-Pac $50: These large $50 “slugs” weigh in at nearly 2.5 ounces of gold. They were minted in 1915 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal. Two varieties were created, round and octagonal. The round issues have a surviving population of 483 and the octagonal at 645 coins. These coins sold at the exposition for $100 each, but today’s price is over six figures for one in gem condition.
#36. If you have $10 in your pocket and you have no debt, you are wealthier than 25% of Americans. In other words, you are wealthier than close to 81 million people. I don’t even know what to say about this.
So there you have a handful of interesting and fun facts about money. I hope you liked them. At the end of the day, I enjoy money because it gives me options in life. When you stay out of debt and build your savings you have the option to take an incredible vacation, work a job you love regardless of the salary, or even retire early.
In fact, I was able to take a job I love because of the freedom money offers. In 2013 I left my job and began to blog full-time.
Money really can open up many doors for you. Just don’t let money control your life and the decisions you make.
Use it as a tool to help you get the most out of life. You do that first by avoiding debt at all costs. You also need to set up a budget so you know where your money is going. This will help you save as much as you can each month.
Finally, you need to invest your money, as investing successfully will grow your wealth and open up more doors in life.