Bet You Didn’t Know that: 7 Interesting Money Facts

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott /

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott /

Money is mundane. You see and use it everyday. You think about it everyday. But there could be things about it you still don’t know. You could be an avid visitor of CNN Money or someone who fondly watches finance-related TV shows but you probably have no idea about the following money facts:

1. The Lifespan of Paper Money Varies

At least in the United States, the lifespan of money varies according to the amount. A $1 bill is slated to last for 5.9 years while a $100 is expected to have a useful life of around 15 years. Other estimated dollar paper money lifespans are as follows: $5 = 4.9 years, $10 = 4.2 years, $20 = 7.7 years, and $50 = 3.7 years.

These lifespans are related to the frequency a certain denomination is used. Since smaller denominations are used more often, they tend to wear out more quickly. If you have a worn out bill, some banks may not be willing to replace it and you cannot oblige them to do so. Your last resort: the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

2. Cost of Printing Money

Does it take $1 to produce a $1 bill? The answer is or should be no. It will be stupid to create money that actually costs as much as its face value. According to the Federal Reserve, it costs $0.055 to print $1 and $2 bills. For $5, $10, and $100 bills, the cost is pegged at nearly $0.099. On the other hand, $20 and $50 bills are produced at a cost of $0.10.

3. Cocaine Contamination

Surprised? A 2009 study presented at the American Chemical Society’s biannual meeting by chemist Yuegan Zuo of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth revealed that 95% of the US bills studied were contaminated by cocaine. The figure is a significant increase from the findings obtained in a similar study two years ago. This finding is based on money used in the United States alone.

The presence of traces of cocaine in bills is attributed to the rampant use of physical money in the illegal drug business. Drug retail is not conducted via Paypal or other electronic payment methods. Maybe some use Bitcoin but a great majority are still limited to using cash for the trade. So how does cocaine contaminate the money? It is believed drug dealers count their money while their hands still have cocaine dusts. There are also those who use bills to snort the illegal narcotic.

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott /

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott /

4. Microbes on Your Money

Another study on paper money reported in the Southern Medical Journal revealed that 94% of the bills tested are contaminated by pathogens that include staphylococcus. it was concluded that paper bills can be infested by more germs than a regular household’s toilet. In hospitals, money is said to contain more disease-causing microorganisms. They can be carriers of the flu virus, capable of spreading disease for nearly 2.5 weeks. Still eager to hold stacks of cash instead of going for electronic payments or digital currency?

5. Fake Money Led to the Creation of the Secret Service

Did you know that the United States Secret Service was once just a division of the Treasury Department? Their origin can be traced to the years when the United States had a serious problem with counterfeit money that a special arm was deemed necessary. President Abraham Lincoln authorized the Secret Service on the 14th of April 1865, the day before he was assassinated. The Secret Service was then tasked to serve as full-time protectors of the president and other top government officials of the United States.

6. Paper Money Is Not Paper

If it were, it probably wouldn’t last a week in circulation. The dollar bill is made with a combination of cotton and linen. It also has some synthetic fibers to ensure that it won’t quickly degrade after repeated handling, folding, slipping, rubbing, stretching, and exposure to heat and moisture.

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

7. Queen Elizabeth Is the Most Popular Face on Money

No, the Chinese may rule the Earth in the population contest but it’s Queen Elizabeth that leads in the paper money face value. Queen Elizabeth’s face is used in the currencies of 33 countries in different parts of the world. Her image appears in different versions, with some opting to update their currency by using the image of an older Queen Elizabeth. More than 20 different portraits of Elizabeth have been used in the UK alone.

It is worth knowing all these money facts. Who knows you might find them handy when you join in some contest to win money. Well, they’re trivial and it does not hurt knowing them somehow.