20 Weird Facts About Money Most Of Us Don’t Know

Money: it makes the world go round. The Federal Reserve estimates that there is currently somewhere around $1 trillion in US Currency currently in circulation. We all use it just about every day, we earn it so we can spend it, we save it (some more than others), but how much do we really know about it? Here are 20 off-the-wall facts about money that you may wish you never knew.

1. A penny costs 2.4 cents to manufacture.


And we wonder why our country is going broke? Do we really even need more pennies to be manufactured? These annoying little crumbs of our cash, (that are commonly left in the “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny” dishes at convenience stores because of their miniscule value), are actually costing our government 2.4 times their value to be created.

2. More than 2 million Americans live on less than $2 a day.

Two Dollars

This sad truth is a result of our economy in America today. But let’s look at the bright side of this interesting tid-bit: if 2 million Americans have figured out how to live off a budget as small as $60 a month, there must be some places in our personal budgets that could be cut back a little, right?

3. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses 9.7 tons of ink each day.


The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing (also called the “Money Factory”) has two active facilities from which it prints money today. There is one located in Washington, D.C. and another in Fort Worth, Texas.  Together these two facilities use a mind-blowing 9.7 tons of ink per day. That is almost the equivalent weight of 3 cars!

4. 5% of the people who buy lottery tickets account for 51% of all tickets sold.

Lottery Ticket

While we are on this subject, it should be noted that a person who drives 10 miles to buy their lottery ticket is actually 3 times more likely to be killed in a car accident while driving to buy the ticket than they are to win the jackpot. How’s that for some odds?

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5. Gambling generates more revenue each year than movies, spectator sports, theme parks, cruise ships and recorded music COMBINED.

Gambling Casino

That’s right. This $34.6 billion dollar industry runs the table, beating out Tom Cruise, the Dallas Cowboys, Mickey Mouse, a week in the Caribbean and the Rolling Stones. (mental_floss)

6. 94% of bills are contaminated with bacteria.

Studio shot of old dollar notes. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

A 2002 study found that approximately 94% of paper money that moves from hand to hand is contaminated with bacteria. While most of these micro-organisms are actually not harmful to your health, there are around 7% that can be hazardous to your health.

These dangerous pathogens include those that cause pneumonia and staph infections. The flu virus, which can normally survive outside the human body for a period of only 48 hours, can actually live on a dollar bill for over 10 days.

7. It takes around 8000 folds before a bill will tear from use.

Folded Dollar bill

(I wonder who took the time to figure this one out!) When a bill is too worn or shows excessive signs of use, it will generally be removed from circulation by the Federal Reserve and replaced with a crisp new version. The life of a bill generally depends on its denomination. A $1 bill has a life expectancy of approximately 5.9 years, where a $100 bill can expect to survive in circulation for up to 15 years.

8. There is more Monopoly money printed every year than actual cash.


The popular board game prints up to $50 billion of its currency each year. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has a much smaller budget it must follow, with only $826.7 million allocated for printing costs in 2014. Last year they produced approximately 26 million bills a day, with a total face value of over $1.3 billion.

9. 90% of all US bills have at least a trace of cocaine on them.


A scientific study conducted in 2009 concluded that somewhere between 90-94% of all bills in circulation carry traces of cocaine on them. This is largely due to the practices of drug traffickers who move large amounts of cash with the drug all over their hands, and the fact that the bills are often rolled up into straws and used to snort the drug. It is also believed that the rollers and brushes inside ATM machines further spread the cocaine across stacks of bills.

10. Only 8% of the world’s currency is actual physical money.

Digital money wallet

That’s right – it’s a digital world we live in. Only 8% of all the “money” around the world is actual physical cash. The rest is digital money that exists only on computers. Think about how often we buy or sell things online, or transfer money from one account to another with a simple phone call. The money goes from one place to another, yet we never actually see or touch it. This digital existence of currency makes up the vast majority of all cash around the world today.

11. Rats ate $10 billion of Pablo Escobar’s loose change.

Pile of Money

It is reported that infamous drug lord, Pablo Escobar, had so much extra cash lying around that he lost an astounding $1 billion a year to rats. These rats, who apparently had very expensive taste, actually feasted on the piles of money stashed in Escobar’s warehouse. Escobar’s extensive wealth was so vast that he could not keep up with all the bills. (Don’t we all wish we had the same dilemma!)

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Since he couldn’t just walk into the bank and deposit all of his dirty money, he would bundle rolls of $100 bills and store them in his warehouse, where the rats would enjoy the savory taste of his cold hard cash. Why he never thought of investing in a nice loyal cat or two to control the rat infestation is a mystery to many.  If that isn’t crazy enough, it is also reported that his men would spend over $2500.00 a month to purchase rubber bands used to bind the rolled bundles of bills.

This raises another excellent question: What are the best options for parking huge amounts of money?

12. The largest denomination of US Currency was the $100,000 bill.

hundred thousand dollar bill

The largest bill ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 gold certificate, printed in 1934 and 1935. It was primarily used during business conducted between banks, and not really used with the public. It quickly became a thing of the past though, and while the US Mint has also printed bills in other large denominations (such as the $500, $1000, $5000 and $10000 bills), the $100 bill we are familiar with today has been the largest denomination printed in the US since 1969.

13. North Korea is the largest counterfeiter of US currency.

South Korean Lawmaker Urges Action On Greenback Counterfeiting

North Korea has mastered the art of counterfeiting our cash, specializing in a perfect replica of our $50 and $100 bills. These fakes are so impressive that they are referred to as “superdollars,” and are often only able to be detected with specialized equipment found at the Federal Reserve. As of 2009, an estimated $45 million worth of these phony bills have been identified, with millions more surely still in circulation.

14.  The Secret Service was established to fight counterfeiting.

Secret Service President

In 1865 during the Civil War, the US Government created the Secret Service not to provide protection of the president, but rather to fight the war on counterfeiters. Their duties were later expanded years later to include investigating fraud against the government and protection of important political figures.

15. The average allowance in the US is $65 a month.


According to a recent study released by the American Institute of CPA’s, the average monthly allowance for American children is close to $65 each month. This is a total of approximately $780 each year paid to our little ones, of which hardly anything is set aside for savings.

16. Americans spend $117 billion each year on fast food.


Ever wonder what American’s spend all their hard-earned cash on? According to recent reports, we spent $51 billion on our beloved pets in 2012, with $310 million of that specifically spent on pet costumes. We also poured out $96 billion for beer, $800 million for Girl Scout cookies, $500 million on twinkies and $65 billion for soda. Valentine’s Day is a big holiday in the US, with $1.7 billion being spent on flowers for that day alone, $11 billion on engagement rings, and $16 billion on the nearly 3 billion pounds of chocolate we consumed that year.

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Some other interesting buys include Coffee: $11 billion, Over-the-Counter Teeth Whiteners: $1.4 billion, Tattoos: $2.3 billion, Tattoo Removal: $66 million, Video Games: $17 billion dollars, Alternative Medicine: $33.9 Billion, and Toilet Paper: $2.6 billion. One of the saddest expenditures? $18 billion spent on credit card late fees.

17. Credit Card debt now starts in high school.

Credit Card Young Girl

According to a financial website, the typical American now begins taking on debt as early as high school. These debts are usually in the form of either credit cards or car loans. Is it any wonder our nation is in debt when our children are somehow permitted to take out a loan or sign up for a credit card before they even finish high school?

18. Secret design of the $1 dollar bill links it to the original 13 colonies.

Dollar Bill 13 Colonies

If you look very closely at the $1 bill, you will notice a few interesting things tied to the number “13” in reference to the original 13 colonies. There are…

  • 13 different representations of the number 13 on the bill
  • 13 stars above the eagle
  • 13 steps on the pyramid
  • 13 vertical bars on the shield
  • 13 horizontal stripes on the top of the shield
  • 13 leaves and 13 berries on the olive branch in one of the eagle’s talons, and in its other there are 13 arrows
  • 13 characters in “1776” and its Roman Numeral equivalent “MDCCLXXVI”
  • 13 letters in “ANNUIT COEPTIS” and 13 letters in “E PLURIBUS UNUM”

There are also 13 segments to the worm-looking things that come off the sides of either circle on the back of the bill. On the front of the bill, on the Department of Treasury seal, there are 13 stars above the key. Many people claim to find sets of 13 other items on both the front and back of the bill, but these were the ones I was able to confirm at this point. How many can you spot?

19. 96% of employed people will not be able to retire at age 65.

Retirement Old Man

According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, approximately 96% of people who are currently employed, will not be able to collect their full Social Security retirement benefits when they reach the age of 65. Since the average American is living longer, the Social Security Administration had to make adjustments to be able to compensate for the additional payments it has to make.

So about 10 years ago it began implementing a plan that slowly extends the age you have to be before you can receive full benefits. This extension of work requirement really only affects younger workers, with people born after 1960 now having to wait until they are 67 before they are eligible for full benefits. Maybe you should start an account with one of these top wealth management companies.

20. If you have $10 in your pocket and no debts, you are wealthier than 25% of Americans.

Ten dollars

As if this alone is not disturbing enough, take into consideration the fact that six members of the Walton family (the family that owns the Walmart fortune) are more wealthy than the lower 30% of Americans today. That’s right. These 6 individuals have more money between them than all the money combined of approximately 94.2 million people in our country today.

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