By now, your kids hopefully know some basic money facts, such as the value of specific coins or what a budget is. To keep them interested in learning even more, though, introduce them to these less commonly known money tidbits.
- The use of paper and metal money is hundreds of years old.
Experts believe that the very first metal money was the ingot, which was made and exchanged in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). The heavier the ingots were, the more value they had. It was around 600 B.C. thatpeople started minting coins with values on them in ancient Lydia (modern Turkey). Paper money got its start in China. These first bills circulated around 1,400 years ago.
- Paper bills in the United States got their start because of the Civil War.
When the Civil War was in full swing, people couldn’t count on things like jobs and property the way they had in the past. They held on to coins that were made from metals like silver and gold because their value was very stable. This led to a shortage of coins. To deal with this shortage and finance what was necessary for the war, the government started printing paper money. Counterfeiting was a huge issue in America during this time, with as much as 1/3 to ½ of paper money in circulation being fake.
- The U.S. Mint is all about helping Mother Nature.
Whenever it can, the U.S. mint recycles any old, worn coins it can get its hands on, using them to make new coins. Worn out bills are recycled, too, but not necessarily into new bills—they can be put into everything from roof shingles to fireplace logs once shredded. This practice is financially smart, as it keeps the mint from needing to spend a lot to get new materials. It is good for the environment, however, as it limits the amount of metals that need to be acquired for coin production.
- Paper currency doesn’t all last the same amount of time.
The durability and longevity of paper money—at least in the United States—is not equal. It is closely connected to the value of the currency. $1 bills have the shortest life span, usually lasting six years or less. $20 bills last about 8 years. $100 bills can last up to 15 years.
- The term “filthy rich” isn’t so good, after all.
Studies have confirmed that as much as 94% of paper money in the United States has viruses or bacteria on it. These germs have the ability to make you sick and are easily transferred from person to person as money exchanges hands. That’s why experts recommend washing your hands after touching it.
- Pennies are pretty expensive.
A single penny in U.S. currency is worth one cent. Unfortunately, it costs the government about 2.4 cents to make one. This loss of money is one reason why some people have lobbied for the discontinuation of the coins.
- People have used a huge variety of objects as money.
Depending on what was available, people used everything from potatoes to gems as forms of currency—animal skins, soap and feathers all made the cut, too. One of the most common items people saw as valuable was sea shells. The practice of using objects as money hasn’t gone away just because societies started printing and minting currency, either. Tea bricks, for example, were used as money in Siberia as late as WWII, and cattle were used as money in many parts of Africa into the mid-1900s.
- Multiple modern terms used with money come from ancient Rome.
The ancient Romans used salt as a currency at one time. The Latin word for salt is “sal.” This is where we get the word “salary” from. The Romans also worshipped a goddess known as Juno Moneta, who was the goddess of women and marriage. They reportedly made their first coins in the goddess’ temple. It is from her name that we get the word “money”, as well as “mint.”
A touch of trivia can go a long way in keeping kids eager to work with money and learn more. These facts are just a handful of what you can share to take your kids’ money education up a notch in fun.