10 Things You Never Knew About The Money In Your Wallet

by Grace Eire
Grace plays in a band and is the mother to a black cat named Fitzhugh.

Most of us touch cash on a daily basis, but what do we really know about the currency we handle with our hands all the time? What are the hard facts about money?

Sure, some of us have made a switch almost entirely to credit or debit, but there are those places that still remain glued to signs reading “CASH ONLY” vehemently scrawled on a piece of poster board.

The money that we handle could be holding on to some nasty germs, as well as other unsavory substances you wouldn’t want to put in your kids’ hands.

So, what else is there to learn about the money tucked away in your wallet as we speak?

These 10 facts about money are a great place to start learning about the surprising side of something that has become so ordinary in our day-to-day lives.

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Thumbnail Source: Flickr / Carissa Rogers

1. Some Of Your Bills Will Last Longer Than Others

cash register

According to Managing in a Global Economy: Demystifying International Macroeconomicsa $1 bill lasts for 21 months, a $5 bill will last 16 months, a $10 bill lasts 18 months, a $20 will last 2 years, a $50 will last four and a half years, and a $100 bill will last a whopping seven and a half years.

2. Many Bills Are Covered In Pathogens

petri dish

In a study published in the Southern Medical Journalresults showed that pathogenic or potentially pathogenic organisms were found on 94 percent of $1 bills sampled from an Ohio community. Just to clarify, that means that bacteria and viruses were found on an overwhelming majority of bills taken in a random pool of money in circulation.

3. It Takes 4,000 Folds For A Note To Tear All On Its Own

torn dollar

It takes 4,000 full folds, one fold one way and another in the opposite direction, to cause a note of any value to tear on its own. The U.S. Department of the Treasury swears on it.

4. If You Do Tear A Bill, All Is Not Lost

torn up money

You can still use a bill if the corner is ripped off. If you have torn it in half, tape it together and bring it to your bank, where they will replace it for you.

If you can’t locate the other half of your bill because it was damaged by any of the following methods noted by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing fire, water, chemicals, and explosives; animal, insect, or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying, you can submit your query to the Mutilated Currency Division.

5. Cash Machines Spread Drug Contamination


As Time reports, most bills, no matter which value, are covered in traces of cocaine. Drug dealers often handle their money with hands covered in the stuff, and those doing the drugs use paper bills as sniffing straws.

Even worse, the brushes in ATM machines help redistribute the substance to the bills that have never touched the hands of drug dealers or users.

6. Your Cash Is Inspired By 1,000-Year-Old Money

tang dynasty

The first instance of paper money was in China, during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), according to Time.

The practice didn’t catch on in Europe until the 17th century. In 1690, the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first American paper note to help fund war efforts.

7. Your Money Might Not Be The Real Deal

counterfeit money pen

Those pens that you see at the checkout counter used to weed out counterfeit money might not work any longer.

According to the Federal Reserve, you should take extra steps to examine bills if you suspect them to be counterfeit. Some signs that a bill is genuine are raised printing, red and blue threads woven into the bill, and a genuine watermark.

8. Flu Viruses Can Last Up to 17 Days On Your Money


In a study done by Switzerland’s University Hospitals of Geneva, some flu viruses survived for up to 17 full days on a contaminated banknote. Additionally, in seven out of 14 cases, the virus stayed alive for at least 24 hours.

Be sure to get your flu shots during flu season if you plan on handling cash! 

9. Hundreds Of Labor Hours Go Into Making Each Of Your Bills

printing bills

Printing money is no small feat. It takes many different steps and examinations before a dollar bill makes it to your wallet.

From creating the linen and cotton concoction that we call paper, to multiple printing processes, to machine and hand inspections, you can be sure that each and every bill that passes through your hands has been expertly and carefully crafted with hundreds of hours of combined labor.

10. There Is $1.49 Trillion Worth Of American Cash Floating Around


According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, there is nearly $1.5 trillion worth of US Federal Reserve notes currently in circulation. Billions of dollars worth of notes are printed each year, but that doesn’t mean that billions of extra dollars go into circulation. About 95 percent of money printed each year is used to replace old bills that were already in circulation.

Did you know any of this about the cash in your wallet? Please SHARE with family and friends on Facebook!