37 amusing money facts to help you dominate trivia night


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These were originally written for a trivia night with friends, but they went over so well that I wanted to share with you 37 amusing facts about money you should absolutely know. I will specify, these are money facts about the United States of America currency.

Take a moment to memorize one or two of these facts about money to impress your friends in the future! It might even help you win a trivia night.

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1. In the $1 bill, there are lots of secret meanings hinting at the 13 original colonies


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You may have never noticed it before but there are lots of little Easter Eggs hidden in the complex design of the $1 bill. They all revolve around the number “13”. 

  • There are 13 steps on the pyramid.
  • 13 vertical bars are placed on the shield.
  • There are 13 horizontal stripes on the top of the shield as well.
  • The symbolism continues with 13 stars on the eagle.
  • Extreme detail was used to place 13 leaves and 13 berries on the olive branch on the eagle’s talons. The other talon holds 13 arrows.
  • There are 13 stars above the key on the Department of Treasury seal.

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2. On the $5 bill, all 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial

However, if you want to read them you will need a magnifying glass. 

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3. How slang terms about money like “buck” were formed

Here is a breakdown of some of the origins of words we associate with money today. These are often based on historical societies that influenced the way we refer to money. 

  • Buck – Back in the day, people used the skin of deer’s as trade and barter for goods/services. Each skin was referred to as a “buck.”
  • Fee – This comes from the German word for cattle “vieh.“
  • Shell Out – At one point, Native Americans used shells as currency, and later European colonists adopted the phrase “Shell Out” meaning “to pay.”
  • Salary – Adopted from the Romans, soldiers at one point were paid their wages in salt. The Latin word for salt is “salarium“. That phrase over time originated “salary”.
  • Dollar – A Czechoslovakian town called Jachymov minted their own silver coins in 1519, and those coins were called “talergroschen.” The slang or short form of these were called “talers.“ This spread across Europe and today, many nations name their currency with some variation of “taler.“ For instance, in the United States, we call our currency “Dollars.” Pretty cool right! 

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4. People underestimate how valuable loose change can be. In 2018, the TSA collected $960,105 in loose change

All that loose change thrown in the bins as you roll through security often gets forgotten and left behind. However, it all adds up and it’s consistently a lot. Making this one of the more impressive facts about money.

  • 2017 – $866K
  • 2016 – $867K
  • 2015 – $765K
  • 2014 – $674K
  • 2013 – $638K

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5. One of the grossest facts about money, like bacteria gross

This feels obvious, but something we don’t often think about is “just how many people handle your money before it comes to you…” Basically money can contain lots of germs. Most of these are harmless but some $1 bills have been known to contain traces of salmonella and E.coli, making this one of the grossest facts about money. However, it seems that older bills (which are cotton-based) usually contain more contanimants while newer, glossier polymer-based $1 bills remain a little cleaner. 

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6. The $1 bill is the most circulated bill in the United States

In fact, 48% of the money printed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing is just the $1 Bill. This is primarily because it is the most common bill, but also because the average lifespan of a $1 bill is just 18 months. Often times you can take a worn out bill to your local bank and they’ll replace it for you.

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7. There is more Monopoly Money printed every year than real money

If you take the combined value of all U.S. money printed each year, it’s between $696M – $974M (most is just to replace old worn money). Yet Parker Brothers reported that the combined fictitious value of their monopoly money, meaning add up all of their orange $500 bills, yellow $100 bills, purple $50 bills, green $20 bills, blue $10 bills, pink $5 bills and white $1 bills, that combined fictitious value is $30 Billion. That’s with a “B”. So nearly 30 times as much Monopoly money than U.S. bills created every year. 

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8. There is an ATM machine in Antarctica

In fact, there are ATMs on every continent in the world. It just seems strange that there is an ATM in Antarctica, but there are actually 2 of them. Both are operated by Wells Fargo at McMurdo Station, the largest science hub on the continent. That makes this one of the “coolest” facts about money. 

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9. By law, living presidents can’t have their face on US currency

This is issued by Congress in 1866, and for the most part, has held true. In the past, usually, only monarchies had the faces of their living presidents. Typically the only time living presidents have been featured on coins are during commemorative coins. George Washington was famous for not wanting his face on U.S. currency because kings often put themselves on coins. He thought his face on currency was too much like the monarchy. 

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10. Benjamin Franklin is the only non-president featured on American bills

Mr. Franklin was an important founding father of the United States of America, but he is the only non-president to show up on U.S. paper currency. He is featured on the $100, which is the highest publicly circulated U.S. paper currency. 

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11. The phrase “In God, We Trust” wasn’t written on US currency until 1957

The change was approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and put into effect the following year. The phrase actually replaced the previous phrase on U.S. currency “E Pluribus Unum” meaning “One out of many”. 

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12. The most counterfeited bill is the $20 bill

While the $100 bill is a close second, people are more likely to break a $20 at a store or bar than a $100. Some famous counterfeit money launders took fake $20s or $100s to bars during rush hour to buy a drink and pocket the change. While the bartender is rushed, they often didn’t take the time to examine the money too closely. I wouldn’t suggest this though, there are better ways to make money. In the end, most people get caught.

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13. There is a $100,000 bill

It’s a gold certificate that features the 28th U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson. However, it was never for public circulation. The Federal Reserve Banks used to use these paper notes to circulate money between the banks. This is one of the most expensive facts about money. 

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14. Paper money was founded in the 1700s when goldsmiths gave out paper receipts for their gold

At this point in history, most money was coin based. This started the standard of governments using paper currency as a representative of that government’s storage of precious metals. For the U.S. Government, paper money was representative of the gold supply in Fort Knox. This continued until 1971 when digital currency made the value of money in the world based on “faith” rather than gold. A $20 bill is only valuable because everyone agrees it has value. 

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15. Economists estimate only 8% of the world’s currency exists as physical cash

This means digital transactions of automated electronic deposits and credit cards transferring funds back and forth are more prevalent than people actually using physical money to pay for things. Think about how much money you spend a month and realize how little of that you’re actually paying with cash. That’s a crazy number to think about. 

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16. The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing currently only produces $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills

At one point there was a series of $100,000 bills printed but they were only for transactions between Federal Reserve banks. Regular people were not carrying these around in their wallets. The $2 bill is fairly rare, they are only printed by demand and the last one was printed in 2003. 

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17. The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 37 million notes (paper money) every year!

That is a combined value of $696 million printed every year. Surprisingly, 95% of that money is created just to replace old money. 

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18. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses 9.7 tons of ink PER DAY to print money

There are two active facilities used by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Washington DC and Fort Worth, TX) that print money every day, and those facilities go through so much ink. Mind you this is high-tech ink with trackable, magnetic and color-changing properties. 

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19. Green ink was originally used to prevent counterfeiting with black & white cameras

It was hard to get the green ink right when people tried to produce photographic copies of U.S. currency. In 1929 when paper money designs became more standardized and intricate to reduce counterfeiting, the U.S. kept the green ink because they had so much in stock.

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20. A single company (Crane and Co.) has always produced the paper to make U.S. currency

It has remained this way ever since 1775, when Paul Revere used paper from Stephen Crane’s paper mill for some of the United States first banknotes. Crane & Co. has been the sole company that has always produced the unique paper for U.S. Currency. 

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21. The original purpose of the Secret Service was to fight money counterfeiting

In July 1865 the U.S. Secret service was formed to fight early counterfeiting at the end of the Civil War. 

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22. If you want to tear any US Bill by folding it over and over, it’ll take 4,000 double folds

That’s a lot but these things are durable! Composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton, these things take some effort to rip. However, not many people are going to reach the 4,000 fold capacity. Keep in mind it only takes 400 folds before a regular piece of paper breaks. 

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23. Damaged US currency can only be replaced at a bank if more than 51% or more is attached

If you get a ripped $1 and as long as more than 51% is present, it can be used as legal tender. You can take it to a bank and they will replace the torn currency with a brand new note. You need to have more than 51% so people don’t tear currency apart and turn in two separate notes. This is one of the most “ripped” facts about money.

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24. There is more than $1.84 trillion worth of federal reserve notes currently in the world

As of April 8, 2020, there is $1.84 trillion of dollars and coins in circulation. So if you took every U.S. dollar and coin in the world (banks, couch cushions, buried treasure, etc.) and added them all up, it would be $1.84 trillion dollars.

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25. Our money is produced by two different organizations

There are two sperate organizations that produce the money we use every day. The U.S. Mint creates coins & U.S. Bureau of Engraving creates paper money. 

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26. The US Mint produces 30 billion coins every year

The United States Mint creates 1 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, and 25 cent coins, plus $1 coins commonly referred to as the Sacagawea Golden Dollar Coin. This replaced the previous U.S. $1 coin which was the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin in 2003. This is one of the most “coined” facts about money. 

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27. It cost the US Mint more money to create a nickel than a dime

It comes down to size. The U.S. Mint pays $0.1118 cents to produce a nickel, yet only $0.0565 cents to produce a dime. 

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28. A penny costs more to make than it’s actually worth

It costs the U.S. Mint $0.0241 cents to create a single penny. That means it costs double to produce a penny than it’s actually worth! This is why there are many petitions to get rid of the penny because it’s literally a waste of money. This is one of the most well-known facts about money. 

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29. There are ridges on the edges of quarters and dimes because people use to shave the edges for extra metal

Back in the day, people used to shave the edges of coins to gather the precious metals (silver, gold, etc.) and combine those clippings to counterfeit new coins or sell outright. It was called “Coin Clipping”. Eventually, the U.S. Mint started to add the ridges to the coins to make it easier to spot and deter counterfeiting. Pennies and nickels were never created with precious metals so it wasn’t worth the effort.

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30. People use pennies to stop garden pests

It’s an odd thing but some people swear by it. If you bury pennies in the garden, the copper and zinc in the pennies will generate electric shocks for garden pests. Most people use them to deter snails. Nowadays there is more zinc than copper in pennies. This is one of the most “shocking” facts about money. 

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31. The most valuable US coin is the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, it sold for $3.7M in 2010

It was a five-cent piece produced in extremely limited quantities unauthorized by the U.S. Mint. So it’s like the rebel of the coin world. There are only 5 in the world ever known to exist and two are in museums while the other three are in private collections. 

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32. Most US currency bears traces of cocaine

Even Snopes confirmed this is true. It’s not necessarily because everyone is out there snorting cocaine, but when bills with cocaine residue are counted in a counting machine, those machines move the trace amounts over other bills, thus lots of money gets coated with cocaine. 

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33. The average lifespan of a US coin is 30 years

That is drastically longer than the typical lifecycle of a $1 bill, which is 18 months. Coins are simply more durable. This is one of the most “resilient” facts about money. 

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34. All US coins have a stamp (Mint Mark) from where they were made

Each coin has a single letter to indicate where they were made. If a coin doesn’t have a mark, it was likely made in Philadelphia since they were the first U.S. Mint and still largest Mint. Today most coins except Philadelphia’s have mint marks on the back. 

  • P – Philadelphia
  • D – Denver
  • S – San Francisco
  • W – West Point

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35. The Lincoln Penny is the only coin where the figure faces right

On every other coin, the faces look left. It’s not the most significant finding, but it is kind of interesting for trivia! 

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36. The US Mint produces more coins than any other Mint in the world

In fact, in addition to all the U.S. coins produced by the U.S. Mint. At times, they have produced coins for other countries as well, making it the largest coin maker in the world.

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37. Whenever the US Mint produces coins, they make a profit

There is a difference between what it takes to “make” and coin and how much it is “worth”. That profit is what funds the U.S. Mint and creates additional revenue for the United States to spend on education, healthcare and other U.S. agencies. 

This article originally appears on WalletSquirrel.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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