Whether it’s to buy food, a new outfit, or to go on a beautiful week-long vacation with your family, everyone uses money—every single day. It’s a part of life that we can’t escape, and because of that, we’re used to passing cash around without really thinking about what it means or where it came from.
Strangely, for as often as we use and are surrounded by money, not many of us know much about its origins.
That’s exactly why we’ve gathered these 20 strange facts about money that most people never knew. Whether it deals with coins, paper money, checks, or another form of currency, the story of how money came to be is truly fascinating!
1. It costs 2.4 cents to produce a single penny. It’s a rare occasion that anyone uses a penny to pay for something, yet the United States mint continues to produce this practically useless currency. It makes you wonder, though: if they’re spending more money to produce the penny than it’s worth, what’s the point?
2. Millions of people in the U.S. live on just $2 a day. It’s a sad reality, but it’s true. While the economy and the strength of the American dollar may fluctuate from day to day, this is still a sobering fact. It’s important to remember the struggles that many of us are faced with!
3. A whopping 9.7 tons of ink are used by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on a daily basis. There are two locations that print United States currency: one is located in Forth Worth, Texas, and the other is in Washington D.C. Together, they go through an astounding 10 tons of ink in a single day.
4. Just five percent of people who buy lottery tickets make up for 51% of the total tickets sold. That’s a staggering number, and many of those ticket buyers are purchasing multiple tickets at a time. For a game of chance, they’re really trying to stack their odds!
5. Nationwide gambling rakes in more revenue than theme parks, sporting events, cruise ships, and music combined. Yes, you read that correctly. In total, gambling accounts for roughly $35 billion each and every single year!
6. There’s quite a lot of bacteria on those dollar bills. A group of researchers conducted a study in 2002 that found nearly 94% of money is contaminated. Sure, most of these bacteria won’t harm you, though seven percent of them can be hazardous to one’s health.
7. A bill would have to be folded upwards of 8,000 times for it to rip. It’s estimated that the average $1 bill will last in circulation about 5.9 years. Once it’s deemed unusable, it will be removed from circulation by the Federal Reserve.
8. There is more Monopoly game money printed annually than actual U.S. currency! While the Bureau of Engraving and Printing allots $826.7 million to print cash each year, the Monopoly people print around $50 billion each year. Phew!
9. A great deal of U.S. currency contains trace amounts of cocaine. In fact, a 2009 study found that anywhere from 90% to 94% of paper money contains the illegal drug. Not only is this because people use the bills to do drugs and to pay for them, but because ATM brushes spread the substance to other bills as well.
10. Of all the currency in the world, roughly eight percent of it is actual physical money. The other 92% of money only exists digitally, which makes a lot of sense considering how often people shop online or by using a credit card.
11. Over time, rats are said to have consumed nearly $10 billion of famed drug lord Pablo Escobar’s cash. Apparently he had so much extra money lying around his warehouses that he lost approximately $1 billion a year to the rodents.
Dustin Moore / Flickr
12. Once upon a time there was a $100,000 bill. Printed only from 1934 to 1945, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing made these gold certificates mostly for the purpose of business transactions between banks. Up until 1969, the U.S. mint also printed bills in the large denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000.
13. The largest counterfeiter of U.S. currency is North Korea. In fact, it’s practically mastered the art of creating fake $50s and $100s. Also known as “superdollars,” these bills are typically only able to be identified by machines at the Federal Reserve. Since 2009, they’ve collected roughly $45 million worth of counterfeits.
14. The U.S. government established the secret service as a means to end counterfeit money. Even though their job requirements were later expanded to include protecting the president, they were initially introduced to prevent the spread of fake money during the Civil War.
15. The average child has an allowance of $65 a month. A study conducted by the American Institute of CPAs found that, across the U.S., most children are given almost $70 a month by their parents, and of that total, almost none of it is put into savings.
16. The fast food industry makes roughly $117 billion in America each year. This ranks ahead of how much is spent on pets ($51 billion), beer ($96 billion), and soda ($65 billion). What can you say? People love their fast food!
17. Adults aren’t the only ones with credit card debt. A recent study found that even high schoolers are facing debt as a result of being allowed to own a credit card or because they have to make car payments. It’s anyone’s guess who would let a person under 18 take out a loan for a car, though…
18. The design of the $1 bill is practically a tribute to the original 13 colonies. If you look closely, you’ll see 13 stars above the eagle, 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 bars on the shield, 13 characters in “1776,” and many other symbols!
19. Retiring at 65 is a thing of the past. In fact, 96% of of us today wouldn’t be able to retire at that age. This is said to be a direct result of people living longer, which caused the Social Security Administration to make some adjustments. The average age at which people will begin to collect full Social Security benefits is now 67.
20. A recent study found that, sadly, anyone who currently has no personal debt and $10 in their pocket is wealthier than a staggering 25% of people in the United States. This is yet another reminder of the financial strife the affects our country daily.
Whoa! Who knew that there was so much backstory to the money we know and use every day? did you know any of these facts?
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