Amazing Kids! Magazine

Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

By Celine Tien, Contributing Writer


It’s a common saying, often heard as a parental cliché when warning kids about not wasting money- but how is money created, really? These seemingly magical bills stem from a place where your toys, clothes, and even tooth brushes are created, a factory.

There are two factories in the United States devoted solely to making money (the U.S Bureau of Engraving and Printing). One is in Washington D.C, while the other factory hails Texas as its home. If you thought a hundred dollar bill was a lot, in just one day, the two money factories produce around 600 MILLION dollars! To print all 600 million dollars, these factories employ the Intaglio printmaking method where the image of the bill is carved meticulously onto a copper or zinc plate, and use 18 tons of ink a day. The patterns are so intricate in the bill; it can often take up to one whole year for a carver to finish etching in the image of a bill.

The next step to making money is filling the engraved plate with ink, then rubbing away excess ink. With that, the printers stamp the plate onto a one-of-a-kind paper. This paper is especially created with a linen-cotton blend, and tiny red and blue microfibers. So if people ever try to print money themselves as a means of cheating, the government can check the counterfeit bills by identifying the paper material.

The process is extremely detailed and obsessively guarded. So is the bill actually worth more than the materials to make it? The answer is yes. Ultimately, it costs around 4 cents for each bill, which means the money printed will always be more profitable than its cost.  But how long does the money already in circulation last? Usually $1 bills last 21 months, while $100 bill can survive up to 7.4 years before it’s replacement.

All the methods described here are detailing the process of tangible bills, but most of the numbers we see in our bank accounts live virtually in a banking matrix. People calculate their account figures, and entrust their faith in the bank that the money is real.

So when the time comes to withdraw from an account, and you touch that crisp emerald bill, you know exactly how it was born.