We spent several weeks scouring the internet, looking for the most interesting money facts we could find. These facts cover U.S. currency, world money, and historical money. They range from the depressing to the exciting, from the shocking to the bizarre.
Here are 101 fascinating money facts for you to enjoy.
General Money Facts
- The study of money is called numismatics.
- The first Philadelphia Mint used horses in harnesses to drive the machinery that produced coins.
- The first paper money was made in China 1,000 years ago.
- The first coins were made about 2,500 years ago.
- Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on more currency than any other person.
- There are over 170 different currencies in use around the world.
- There is more Monopoly money printed every year than actual money.
- Only 8% of currency is in physical form.
- Money is estimated to be dirtier than a toilet.
- Pennies planted in the garden will repel slugs.
- The TSA collected $765,759.15 in loose change at airport security checkpoints in 2015.
- The average allowance is $65 a month.
- Piggy banks originated from the “pygg,” a clay used for making jars that held money.
- There is an ATM in Antarctica.
- Over half of lottery tickets are bought by 5% of people.
- Drug Lord Pablo Escobar had so much money laying around that rats ate approximately $1 billion.
- Putting bills in the microwave for about 20 seconds will make them crispy again.
- The largest denomination ever printed was in Hungary in 1946, worth 100 quintillion pengoes.
- The word “salary” comes from sal, meaning “salt” in Latin. Early Romans used salt as money.
- The world’s worst inflation is in Zimbabwe. There was a 6.5 sextillion percent inflation rate in 2008.
- The word “cash” originated in ancient China, where a bundle of 100 coins was called one cash.
- The word “cent” is derived from the Latin centum, meaning “hundred.”
- The term “cash cow” originated from early forms of currency in the form of livestock.
- The International Space Station is the most expensive object ever built at $150 billion U.S.
- Sea shells were once commonly used as money in many parts of the world.
- Even spending $1 million a day, it would take Bill Gates 218 years to spend all his money.
- Credit cards originated in the U.S. during the 1920s and could be used at individual companies.
- The first credit card that could be used at a variety of companies was introduced by the Diner’s Club in 1950.
- The first national bank card was BankAmericard, which began in California with Bank of America in 1958. It was later renamed VISA in 1976.
- Apple earns $300,000 per minute.
- The Secret Service was originally created to fight counterfeiting in 1865.
- It takes 12-15 years of training to become a money engraver.
- The first gold rush in the U.S. happened in 1799 in North Carolina when a 12-year-old boy found a 17-pound gold nugget on his family’s farm.
- The average adult has between 8 and 10 credit cards.
- Walter Cavanagh, also known as Mr. Plastic Fantastic, has more than 13,000 credit cards.
U.S. Currency Money Facts
- The Latin E Pluribus Unum means “one out of many” and means one country out of many.
- A $1 bill lasts an average of 18 months, a $5 bill lasts 2 years, a $10 bill lasts 3 years, a $20 bill lasts 4 years, and $50 and $100 bills last an average of 9 years.
- 38 million notes with a face value of $541 million are printed every day.
- 95% of the notes printed each year replace those already in circulation.
- Almost half of all notes printed are $1 bills.
- Paper bills are made of 25% linen and 75% cotton.
- Martha Washington is the only woman to appear on a U.S. currency note back in 1886, 1891, and 1896.
- A two-cent coin was minted between 1864 and 1873.
- The marks “S,” “D,” “P,” or “W” designate the Mint where the coin was produced.
- The 4 U.S. Mints are located in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point, New York.
- Quarters were originally made of silver.
- Lady Liberty was on the quarter for over 100 years before being replaced by George Washington in 1932.
- The penny is the only coin where the figure faces to the right.
- A penny costs more than a penny to make (about 2.4 cents).
- The largest U.S. currency was the $100,000 bill.
- A farm in Delaware mulches 4 tons of U.S. bills into compost daily.
- Counterfeit currency is frequently detected because they are more perfect than actual currency.
- 454 bills are equal to 1 pound.
- The most counterfeited bill is the $20 bill.
- Each bank printed its own money until the Federal Reserve was established in 1913.
- The $1 bill contains many references to the original 13 colonies (look for things in 13).
- Many communities throughout the U.S. have their own currency, such as Walt Disney World.
- The 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $43.7 million, with only 5 known to exist.
- Coins have ridges to deter counterfeiting, as people used to shave the edges off coins back when they were made of gold and silver.
- There are 119 grooves on the outside of a quarter.
- No living person can have their face on currency.
- Queen Isabella of Spain was the first woman to appear on a U.S. coin.
- Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton are the only non-President to appear on a U.S. bill.
- $2 bills are largely considered unlucky.
- 85-95% of paper money contains traces of cocaine.
- The $1 bill hasn’t had a redesign in over 50 years.
- Security threads on different U.S. bills glow in different colors.
- All U.S. bills cost less than 20 cents to make.
- S. bills are printed in either Washington, D.C. or Fort Worth, Texas.
- The original Article of Confederation (the predecessor to the Constitution) gave states the right to make their own money.
- “Greenbacks” were paper currency issued by the U.S. during the Civil War.
- “Greybacks” were paper currency issued by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
- Two-thirds of U.S. currency is found outside the U.S.
- 7 tons of ink is used to print money every day.
- There are 293 ways to make change for $1.
- A bill can be folded 4,000 times forward and backward before it will rip.
- The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared in 1963.
- The bird on the silver dollar was a real eagle named Peter.
- Coins can last an average of 30 years in circulation.
- One million $1 bills would weigh 2,040.8 pounds, while one million in $100 bills would weigh only 20.4 pounds.
- The slang “buck” comes from times before paper money when Americans would trade buck animals for goods and services.
- The U.S. officially adopted the dollar as its unit of currency in 1785.
- The U.S. went off the gold standard (currency is backed by gold) on August 15th, 1971.
- The only number on a coin is the year it was minted.
- There are between 7.5 and 9 billion $1 bills in circulation at any given time.
- The motto on the first U.S. coin was “Mind Your Business.”
- Nickels are more expensive to make than dimes.
- Harriet Tubman will appear on the new $20 bill beginning in 2020. She will be the first African-American to appear on a bill and the first woman in over 100 years.
- The clock in the steeple of Independence Hall on the back of the $100 bill is set to 4:10.
- North Korea is the greatest culprit of counterfeit American currency.
- Today’s pennies are made from 95% zinc and coated in copper.
- The total outstanding U.S. consumer debt is currently $3.9 trillion.
- 37% of all households carry some sort of credit card debt.
- 1 in 5 Americans has a zero or negative net worth.
- Gambling in the U.S. brings in more revenue than theme parks, sporting events, cruise ships, and music combined.
- 96% of Americans will not be able to retire by age 65.
- The total amount of outstanding student loan debt hit $1 trillion in 2012.
- The average new car loan is now more than $30,000.
- The average American will pay more than $600,000 in interest over their lifetime.
- 12% of the money taken home by the average American family is spent on interest.
- 47% of Americans cannot cover a $400 expense without borrowing money or selling something.
Moral of the Story
What a list of money facts. The founding fathers would be proud.
While the majority of our articles seek to impart deep and profound finance knowledge, we thought we’d change things up a bit by compiling 101 fascinating money facts for you to peruse and do with what you will.
Hey, at least you’ll be able to clean up on Jeopardy night!
Tawnya is a 34-year-old Special Education teacher in the sixth year of her career. Along with her partner, Sebastian, she runs the blog Money Saved is Money Earned. Tawnya has worked extremely hard to reach her goals and remain debt-free.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University and has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. It is this wealth of tips and tricks that they wish to pass on to others.