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5 Weird Facts About Money

Money makes the world go round.
The love of money is the root of all evil.
One subject, two very different sentiments. Whether you consider it a necessary evil, or the best thing in the world, there is no denying money plays a major part in modern life. You have to earn it, you have to spend it, but how much do you really know about it? If you’re looking to get more familiar with the stuff that passes through your hands each day, here are five (slightly bizarre) money facts to get you started.

One-cent coins cost more to make than they’re worth.

Due to the price of copper, in many countries a one-cent coin costs more than twice as much to make than it’s worth. This has led countries like Canada to abandon their one-cent coins, while the UK is mulling over abandoning both their one and two-cent pieces.

Credit cards are cleaner than cash.

They might be more dangerous to your budget, if not used wisely, but there’s one area in which credit cards have a major advantage over cash money – hygiene.

Paper money carries loads of bacteria, and over 90% of the world’s supply is contaminated with it. Some of that bacteria can even have an adverse effect on your health. Since credit cards pass through fewer hands – just yours and the cashiers’, instead of thousands of individuals – they stay cleaner than cash. You can keep them even cleaner by wiping them with an antibacterial wipe before putting them away. It’s one simple way to keep your wallet from being riddled with germs.

Money has a short lifespan.

Since it passes through so many hands, money doesn’t hold up very well, even though its actually fabric and not paper, and is designed to last as long as possible.

In the United States, the $50 bill, which has a longer lifespan than other bills, lasts for fewer than 13 years on average, while the most widely-circulated $5 and $10 bills last for less than three and a half years on average.

Banks and other financial institutions, for the most part, make the decision as to when a bill should be taken out of circulation, and that money is turned over to the Federal Reserve, who shreds the bills and issues a check for their value to the entity that turns them in.

There was an 8-century delay between the invention of paper money, and its use in the western world.
Paper money first appeared in China around 800 CE. Though, technically, it wasn’t cash. Instead, these papers were certificates that entitled the holder to a specified amount of money. Since these certificates were also transferable to other people, though, individuals used them much as we use cash today, handing them off to other merchants in return for their goods or services.

It wasn’t until two hundred years later that the first official paper notes were issued by the Chinese government, and it wasn’t until the 17th century that the idea of paper money was adopted in Europe with the first printing of paper money in Sweden in 1601.

The longest-used form of currency isn’t cash, gold, or even livestock. It’s a seashell.
Cowry shells, which are from a specific type of sea snail, were used as currency in multiple many Pacific cultures for more than a thousand years. They were first used around 1200 BC in China, and remained in use as a form of payment up until the 20th Century in parts of Africa. Today, they are one type of shell commonly used in shell necklaces.

Money has never been a stagnant entity. Since the dawn of civilization, items of value have been exchanged for goods and services, and the nature of those valuable items have changed, from cattle to coins, from paper money to credit. Money’s next evolution is anyone’s guess, but, with new monetary technologies, like peer-to-peer exchanges and cryptocurrencies, already available to the public, it’s likely the future is already here.

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