September 19th, 2016


2 cents_Eagle_41Splitting the Difference

Got change for a $15 bill?

Longtime COINage reader Wayne Pearson believes this could be a perfectly logical question someday.

Pearson argues that such a bill not only would be useful for consumers and cashiers alike, but also would cut the cost of printing U.S. currency.

Beyond that, he says, it would provide a noncontroversial home for Harriet Tubman or some other worthy American woman—eliminating the need to dislodge either Alexander Hamilton or Andrew Jackson from the notes on which they currently are featured.

In researching the cost and life expectancy of U.S. paper money, Pearson determined that the $10 bill gives Uncle Sam the smallest bang for his buck of any note used widely in daily commerce.

It costs about the same to print a $5, $10 or $20 bill. But on average, the $10 bill has a circulating lifespan of only 4.5 years, while the $5 has a useful life of 5.5 years and the $20 lasts 7.9 years—over 75 percent longer than the $10.

“I realized that the $10 bill could use some conservation,” Pearson said. “And in order to make it last longer, I came up with the idea of a $15 bill.”

Read the entire column in the October 2016 issue.

October 2016