Video: How Much Does It ACTUALLY Cost To Make Money
Prior to humans using coins as currency they’d barter for things, such as tools used for hunting. But eventually it just made sense to create something used as a unit of value, instead of lugging around all your belongings anytime you wanted to trade. Back in the day, and we mean many thousands of years ago, that form of currency might have been shells, beads, or amber. Then the Mesopotamians around 5,000 years ago created the first coin, known as the Mesopotamian shekel. In time we had debt, taxes, and anyone with lots of these coins could gain great power by paying for armies.
Cash could provide well-being, and it could encourage a man to kill his own brother. Money makes the world go around, but in some ways it’s still pretty cheap. Let us explain. We carry this stuff around with us almost all of the time, but we don’t usually think about where it comes from. Money gets a raw deal really, because we just don’t care about its past. We only care about what it can get us. It’s a very selfish relationship we have with money. We earn it, and then we give it to someone else and never once think about its history. Well, it’s actually quite special this thing called money. It’s not easy to make and a lot of expertise and labor goes into producing it. Otherwise, we’d all be printing money and making coins in our own back yards. It’s got to be perfect, and in the USA the Bureau of Engraving and Printing makes sure that cash is just that.
This takes many man hours, lots of modern machines, and meticulous quality control. Let’s first look at how bills are made in the U.S. The special paper that bills are printed on is made of 75% cotton and 25% linen. This is different from the paper you ordinarily use which is made from wood pulp. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, any denomination of five bucks and above has a security thread already built into that paper. With the 100 dollar note it’s a bit different, as it has a 6mm wide 3-D security ribbon woven into the paper. For good reason these things should be hard to forge, but it’s happened, and we’ll come to that. The money then needs printing, and that happens on large sheets. Each bill isn’t individually printed.
Using large metal plates the bill is engraved with the design. So in this case, you’d expect each bill to cost about the same for manufacturing except the 100 bill which is slightly different as well as the one and two dollar bills which don’t have the security thread built into them. This is what the U.S. treasury writes about the inks used to make the bills. “All bills, regardless of denomination, utilize green ink on the backs. Faces, on the other hand, use black ink, color-shifting ink in the lower right hand corner for the $10 denominations and higher, and metallic ink for the freedom icons on redesigned $10, $20, and $50 bills. The $100 note's ‘bell in the inkwell’ freedom icon uses color-shifting ink. These and the other inks appearing on U.S.
currency are specially formulated and blended by the BEP. Inks headed for BEP presses also undergo continual quality testing.” As you can see, making money is hard work. Counterfeiters struggle to make money like the experts do, but on occasion people have done a pretty good job. You might have heard of something called the “super dollar”, which the U.S. government states is an almost perfect counterfeit 100 dollar bill created possibly by another government. What happens is detection technology gets better, but then the counterfeiters also get better and create more of these super notes. It’s a cat and mouse game, and that’s why money printers have to be on top of their game. Some of the counterfeiters get away with it for a while, with one big case involving a bunch of British criminals who were making almost perfect dollars and pounds until they got caught in 2005. These guys were literally printing cash to the tune of one million pounds and $500,000 a day.
Now that’s how to get rich quick, and these guys were experts in printing money. They weren’t the first and they won’t be the last, so let’s just say that money-making technology costs countries a fair bit of money. With that in mind, if you were to ask the Treasury Department just how much it costs to make money they’d tell you it’s about much more than buying raw materials and fashioning the cash. If you look at the 2019 currency operating budget you’ll find that it is $955.8 million. We actually looked at the budget breakdown and found that $210.0 million went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to cover facilities’ costs and expansion at Fort Worth, Texas. The other big printing place is in Washington, D.C. Lots more cash goes towards research and development and automated counterfeit inspection. Then you’ve got operating costs, which includes printing the stuff and running the machines.
You’ve also got the board to pay and all the staff to pay. You’ve got security and transportation, and with cash you need to do that right. That’s why part of the budget goes to armored carrier contracts. But in the end, the main part of the budget goes towards printing. How fast can they make money? Well, it’s said the printing machines can print around 8,000 sheets an hour. Most of this process is automated, but humans will do the quality control part. The bills are not just looked at by humans either, they are also put through scanners which can detect the slightest fault. If they make the grade the big sheets are stacked in piles of ten and then it’s time to cut them to make individual bills. These are then separated again and then made into bricks. These bricks are given a barcode and then they are ready to be shipped all over the USA.
You might be the guy whose job it is to move the pallets around that contain the boxes of bricks. It must be quite the frustrating job if you are low paid and surrounded by tons of money all day. You can actually find reports of people stealing cash, sometimes a lot of cash, but then getting caught. One guy was arrested after it was found he’d been hiding money inside the bathroom walls. At the time a special agent told the press that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the worst place you can try to steal money because people just never get away with it. We went to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving website and looked to see how much people who worked at the facilities are paid. There are so many jobs you can do we can’t really go into them all, but we looked at various grades and steps for employees. If you are grade one and step one you’ll get paid $24,633 a year. Grade 15 and step ten and you’ll get $166,500. You could be pulling pallets around or you could be sat on the board. You could be designing the latest detection technology or working as a secretary.
But this all goes towards the cost of making cash. Ok, so we had to tell you all of that to give you an idea of costs. But there is also a printing cost for that cash and thankfully the Federal Reserve has published the 2019 cost. Here it is: To print one or two dollars it costs 5.5 cents a note. To print five bucks it costs 11.4 cents. 10 bucks costs 11.1 cents and 20 bucks costs 11.5 cents. 50 bucks costs 11.5 cents, too, and 100 bucks comes in at 14.2 cents. As for coins, they are made at six locations in the USA. Unlike notes, coins are not as good value for money. The price of making coins went up in 2018 thanks to metal prices increasing. In case you didn’t know, the quarter, nickel and dime coins are a copper-nickel combination. Pennies are copper plated zinc. According to the Mint, making one cent from start to finish and getting it out cost 2.06 cents in 2018.
So it cost more than it was actually worth. In fact, one headline in 2019 read, “The US Mint lost $69 million making pennies last year.” Around $20 million was lost on making nickels, which cost 6.60 cents to make. But the rest of the coins did make the Mint some cash, because dimes cost 3.33 cents to make and quarters cost 8.24 cents to make. You could almost say that when you have a quarter you don’t just have the biggest coin but you also have the most profitable coin. Your pennies are dead in the water. You may as well throw them in the next fountain you see. Over in the UK they have those nice-looking one pound and two pound coins and even the commemorative five pound coin. We tried to find how much it costs to make these pretty things but found this message on the Royal Mint’s website. “The Royal Mint does not reveal exactly how much it costs to make specific coins as such information could be used to its competitors' advantage.
” People have tried to work out how much it costs to make a pound and have come up with around 4 pence (about 5 cents), but we can’t say that is what it costs for sure. The same goes for making British currency bills. We can’t find the exact cost as it’s not published. We do know that when the new polymer notes were introduced that change cost a lot of money as it required new machinery and new technologies, but the Bank of England said it would soon make that money back because those notes last a lot longer than the old ones. You might think that those new plastic notes are harder to counterfeit, but we found a lot of reports suggesting that this might not actually be the case. Australia for example used to have low forgery rates after the polymer bills were introduced, but reports in 2018 said forgers were back at it again. It’s the same in the UK. The new notes were supposed to be impossible to counterfeit, but that hasn’t stopped people trying. Reports tell us that indeed dodgy 5 and 10 pound notes have been found in circulation, but apparently anyone with a keen eye should be able to spot them.
People have even been forging a polymer 20 pound note and that isn’t even out yet. As for counterfeiting coins, Euros have been plagued by forging for some time while back in 2014 in the UK it was revealed that just over three percent of pound coins in circulation were counterfeits. Because of that new pound coins had to be introduced that were much harder to forge. In fact, it’s said UK pound coins are some of the most counterfeited money in the world, but then U.S. bills are also up there as some of the most forged currency in the world. Other currencies plagued by counterfeits are the Euro, the Chinese yuan and the Indian rupee. So now you know how much money costs, should we all switch to electronic currency? Let us know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to watch our other video Why Does Each US Air Force Pilot Helmet Cost $400,000?. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.