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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. It’s filthy. Trust me. You will learn this shortly.
But I really do enjoy money. I love learning about it too.
From time to time, I re-watch The Simpsons trillion dollar bill episode. It is easily my favorite.
While the story is fictional, it made me consider, “What are some fun facts about money that would be interesting 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.
Table of Contents
61 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 to 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 in banks, cash registers, etc., and found that nearly 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 is the $20 bill.
The next most counterfeited bill is the $100 bill.
The U.S. $100 bill is the most frequently counterfeited in foreign countries.
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, authorities have identified an estimated $45 million worth of these fake bills.
#5. Emerich Juettner was a pro at counterfeiting.
Actually, he was horrible at counterfeiting but brilliant 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 four months in prison.
The best part of this money fact is that a film was made about Emerich Juettner and his counterfeiting ways, making him more than he made from counterfeiting.
#6. The typical lifespan of a $1 bill is just 18 months.
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.
Before a bill tears, it takes about 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backward).
Or you can put it in the microwave for around 20 seconds.
However, I would be too scared to try. With my luck, my cash would go up in flames.
#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.
So the next time you buy one of those starter logs for your fireplace, you could be burning money!
#9. Cash is dirty.
We’ve all heard how dirty money is and how there are traces of cocaine on 90% of dollar bills.
But did you know that paper cash 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 creation of the Secret Service was to fight counterfeiting.
In July 1865, Congress created the U.S. Secret Service to fight counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting was a huge problem back then.
By the end of the Civil 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 its 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 costs 10,487,936,912 Zimbabwe Dollars.
#14. Only 8% of the world’s currency is actual physical money.
No, the rest isn’t Bitcoin.
Most transactions are digital, 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 currency.
#15. Machines print more monopoly money in a given year than money in the entire world.
How crazy is that?
I wonder why Rich Uncle Pennybags is never on the Forbes Billionaires List?
#16. Speaking of printing money, the U.S. prints paper cash at two facilities.
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 daily.
I want to know which company they buy the ink from so I can invest in it!
#17. The ink used to print money is high-tech.
So high tech that it has trackable, magnetic, and color-changing properties.
My question is, why can’t I get my hands on color-changing ink?
That would spruce up the meeting reports I have to print out at my business!
#18. The blue ribbon in $100 bills dances.
The blue ribbon woven through the new hundred dollar bill contains thousands of microlenses that give the appearance of the Liberty Bell dancing.
#19. Money engravers are highly skilled.
Not only do money engravers work with incredible precision, but they also have to illustrate backward.
The designs they cut into the plates are the mirror image of what it will look like when printed.
Think this job sounds fun? It takes close to 15 years of training to become an engraver.
#20. The U.S. once made a $100,000 bill.
The largest bill ever produced (no, not the trillion dollar bill) was the $100,000 gold certificate.
It was used as an accounting device between federal reserve banks and not for the general public.
#21. Martha Washington is the only woman to appear on a U.S. currency note.
Her image appeared on the $1 Silver Certificate starting in 1886.
It was discontinued in 1957 and was the second-longest issued paper money.
She was on paper bills back in 1886, 1891, and 1896.
No woman is featured on paper bills today.
But women have been featured on coins several times.
#22. The first gold rush was in North Carolina.
Most people think the first gold rush was in 1849 in California.
But in 1799, a 12-year-old boy found a 17-pound gold nugget on his family’s farm.
Word spread fast, and the gold rush soon followed.
And to think of all the digging I did as a kid, all I found were rocks and dirt.
#23. Secret designs on the $1 bill link 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, a reference to the original 13 colonies.
Remember these weird money facts the next time financial trivia comes up at trivia night.
- 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 berries on the olive branch in one of the eagle’s talons, and on 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.
#24. All 50 states are across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a $5 bill.
I didn’t believe this when I read it.
But then I checked it out, and all 50 states are listed.
To read them, you are going to need a magnifying glass.
#25. Over 60 communities throughout the U.S. have their own local currency.
While every place in the U.S. will accept U.S. currency, some places have their own money.
And you can only use this money in these communities.
Walt Disney World is one such place. Here is a list of the others.
#26. Apple makes on average over $163 million a day.
If you do the math, that comes to $1 million every eight minutes.
So by the time you finish reading this article, Apple had made over $2 million!
- Read now: Find out how to save $100,000
#27. Quarters and dimes have ridges because people used to “shave” the edges of the coins when they were pure metal.
Merchants had to weigh the coins to ensure they received unshaved coins.
In the past, people would shave the coin faces and sell the precious metals.
The ridges made it almost impossible to shave them.
The coins still have ridges today, even though they don’t contain any pure metal.
So visually impaired people can distinguish between them easier.
#28. Pennies in your garden deter pests.
Pennies buried in a garden will repel slugs, which get electric shocks from touching copper and zinc.
#29. One 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!
#30. 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.
Use Qapital to round up your purchases and to transfer money based on rules you set up. It's fund and easy to use. Get a $25 bonus once you make your first deposit.
And if you were wondering what happened to the loose change the TSA collected, they kept all of it.
#31. The average person has $56 of loose change in their house.
Other than the couch, I don’t know where this loose change is hiding, but apparently, it’s there.
- Read now:Here are the best places to find spare change
- Read now:Discover the best places to hide money around your house
My question is, how did they complete this research study?
Did they assign people to go into people’s homes and dig around?
If so, there must be other fascinating studies of other random things they found.
#32. The average allowance is now $120 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 $1,500 a year from an allowance.
If I were a kid today, I would be investing that cash so I could retire by the time I hit 40!
#33. Curious where piggy banks originated from?
In Old English, “pygg” was clay used to make jars and dishes that held money.
Over the generations, the word eventually morphed into “piggy bank.”
#34. There are ATMs on every continent on Earth.
There are over 1.6 million ATMs worldwide, even one in Antarctica.
Why there is an ATM in Antarctica beats me.
The last time I checked, there weren’t any retail shopping centers.
When are ATMs used most?
Friday is the most popular day at the ATM.
Here is another fun banking fact. The average amount people withdraw is $80.
#35. 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 this 5% of people that they could be doing much better financially if they simply invested the cash they used to buy lottery tickets.
#36. Women who wait to marry earn more.
A study discovered that college educated women who wait until age 30 or older to marry earn more money than those who marry young.
The average difference is over $18,000 a year.
Experts say that marrying younger means starting a family earlier and missing out on years of income and potential raises at work.
#37. The lottery kills you.
Sticking with the lottery, a person who drives 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket is three times more likely to die in a car accident while driving to buy the ticket than in winning the lottery.
Just another reason why you are better off saving and investing instead.
- Read now:Here is how to invest in yourself
#38. Pablo Escobar spent $2,500 a month on rubber bands.
How about that money fact?
When his drug cartel was booming, they spent $2,500 a month to hold all the bricks of cash together.
#39. 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, which didn’t matter.
It must be nice to lose that amount of money and not care.
#40. A coin once sold for over $40 million dollars.
The 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $43.7 million.
It is a rare coin made by a rogue Mint employee.
There are only five known to be in existence.
And while we are on rare coins, here are the five rarest coins.
- 1849 Double Eagle: No 1849 Double Eagles were for circulation, and only two proof versions of the coin exist. One of the coins is a part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Then-Treasury Secretary William M. Meredith owned a second coin, and his estate sold it after his passing. The present location of this coin remains unknown. If this coin ever surfaced, it would quickly 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 they used dies until they wore out, most of the silver dollars minted in 1804 were dated 1803. Only eight examples of the 1804 coin are known to exist.
- 1776 Continental Dollar: In 1776, the Revolutionary War was underway. The U.S. wanted to show its independence by producing its own currency. The idea was to mint the coins in silver, but the U.S. could not secure a loan for the metal. Instead, the U.S. used pewter alloy to mint the coins. Highly desired, the coins had no intrinsic value.
- 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. Eventually, 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 nearly 2.5 ounces of gold. They were minted in 1915 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal in both round and octagonal varieties. 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.
If you want to see if you have any valuable cash, here is a list of rare dollar bills and valuable coins.
Some are so common you might have them in your pocket right now!
#41. There are 293 ways to make change for $1.
I spent 15 minutes brainstorming different ways when I learned this fun fact.
I found 57, then got tired.
I’m sure there is a site out there that lets you plug in the info, and it will tell you all 293 ways.
#42. If you have $10 in your pocket and 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.
#43. Salmon P. Chase is the first person to appear on paper money.
Who is Salmon P. Chase?
I didn’t know either, so I looked him up and found more interesting facts.
He served as the 25th Secretary of the Treasury, was the sixth chief justice in the Supreme Court, and was the governor of Ohio.
Not all at the same time. That would be incredible.
He is one of the few people serving in all three federal government branches.
#44. Paper bills aren’t paper.
It is a blend of cotton and linen, 75% cotton and 25% linen, to be exact.
In Benjamin Franklin’s time, people would repair torn bills using a needle and thread.
#45. The penny is the only coin where the figure faces right.
Look at all the coins, and I challenge you to find another one that has the figure face right.
Only President Lincoln is looking right.
All other figures are facing left.
#46. The $10 Bill is the only paper note where the figure faces left.
Andrew Jackson on the $10 bill is the only figure to face left.
All other portraits have the figure face to the right.
#47. A Delaware farm mulches more than four tons of worn-out U.S. cash into compost daily.
In the past, this worn out cash would be burned.
But now, it is recycled and turned into rich compost to help fertilize plants.
As incredible as this is, I still can’t get over the fact that four tons of cash are turned into trash daily.
- Read now: Discover the best things money can’t buy
- Read now: See how to live life with unlimited wealth
#48. Early Romans used salt as a form of money.
Since refrigeration wasn’t a thing, Romans used salt to preserve food.
The word “salary” is derived from “sal,” which means “salt” in Latin.
#49. Queen Elizabeth II appears on the most money.
She has appeared in 15 banknotes since her childhood.
She was featured on Canada’s $20 bill when she was eight years old.
Today, she appears on 33 different currencies all around the world.
#50. The gambling industry earned $61 billion in revenue last year, more than Netflix and Disney Plus combined.
There is no slowing down in the gambling industry.
Last year saw record revenue for the industry, and sports betting continues to grow in size.
For comparison, the music industry brought in $28.8 billion, the movie industry earned $36.8 billion, and amusement parks earned $42.6 billion.
#51. More people think about and fantasize about money than sex.
A recent study shows that most people think more about money than sex.
Sex ranks in the lower 33% for most people, coming in behind thoughts of work, vacations, and health.
#52. Only 2 Non-Presidents appear on U.S. currency.
Benjamin Franklin, on the $100 dollar bill, and Andrew Jackson, on the $10 dollar bill, are the only non-presidents on U.S. currency.
There have been other important historical figures on currency in the past, but none are currently in circulation.
#53. No living person can appear on U.S. currency.
When researching fun money facts, I stumbled upon this mostly unknown one.
In 1866, Congress passed a law stating that no living person could appear on currency.
Why this rule?
Apparently, during the Civil War, people began to horde silver and gold coins, which resulted in a coin shortage.
The Treasury issued new paper coins in various denominations, including a five-cent note.
Congress asked that William Clark of Lewis & Clark be on the money on the printing issue of this note.
But when the request landed on the desk of National Currency Bureau superintendent Spencer M. Clark, it only said ‘Clark.’
So the superintendent put his own face on the bill.
As a result, Congress passed a law saying no living person can appear on currency.
#54. To prevent counterfeiting, the U.S. Mint uses green ink.
Back in the day, before color ink was popular, people were counterfeiting currency by taking pictures of money and printing it out.
But cameras only printed in black and white.
Since green ink made it near impossible to counterfeit, it is the primary color.
Green ink continues to be used as technology changes because the U.S. had so much of it in stock.
#55. Paper receipts were the start of paper currency.
Historically, money was coin based, with dollar bills being extremely rare.
But in the 1700s, goldsmiths started to give people paper receipts for their gold.
This led to the use of paper as a form of money, backed by gold, known as the gold standard.
You could take your paper money into any bank and exchange it for its value in gold.
This lasted until 1971, when President Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard.
Now U.S. currency is known as fiat currency and is backed by the government.
In other words, a $100 bill is only valuable because everyone agrees it has value.
#56. The first paper money was issued in 1690.
While paper money was rare then, the Massachusetts Bay Colony introduced the first paper money.
The money financed a military expedition to Canada, and the money was in the form of bills of credit.
#57. The United States once had 8,000 different kinds of money.
Before the Civil War, each local jurisdiction was allowed to print its own money.
As a result, there was a different currency everywhere you went.
It wasn’t until the establishment of the Federal Reserve that a single form of currency took over.
#58. The Constitution only allowed the government to issue coins.
The U.S. Constitution, in Article One, gives the federal government to coin money and says nothing about paper money.
The reason for this was during the American Revolution, paper money became worthless.
Faith in paper money dropped so low that the founding fathers only allowed coin-based currency.
#59. Foreign coins were legal tender in the United States.
The U.S. lacked an ample supply of gold before its discovery in the West in the middle 1800s.
Because of this, foreign coins were part of the monetary system and could be used to buy goods.
#60. Tea bricks were the use of currency by some people.
The nomads of Siberia and Mongolia used tea bricks as a currency.
Not only could they be used to buy things, but they were eaten as food or brewed to make tea.
#61. The average American spends $27 annually at the vending machine.
I tried to see if I was above or below the average.
I don’t use vending machines often, but the prices for drinks are so high that I still might be around average.
Here are a few other interesting facts about vending machines and money.
- The U.S. has the most vending machines, with 6.9 million
- The average vending machine makes $75 every week
- In Japan, as you insert coins into the machine, green lights light up, telling you what items you have enough cash to buy
So there you have a handful of interesting and fun facts about money.
I hope you liked them.
Just be sure to try and remember some of them, so when you are at Quizzo night, and financial trivia comes up, you can score points.
In all seriousness, I enjoy money because it gives me options in life.
When you stay out of debt and build your savings, you can take an incredible vacation, work a job you love regardless of the salary, or even retire early.
I was able to take a job I love because of the freedom building wealth 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 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 to know where your income is going.
This will help you save as much as you can each month.
Finally, you need to invest, as investing will grow your wealth and open up more doors in life.
Here are some great articles to help you get started.
- Read now: Discover 10 simple steps to start building wealth
- Read now: Learn the essential habits wealthy people use to become rich
- Read now: Dumb money mistakes to avoid
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.