Two-dollar bill myth leaves 1.2 billion dollars unused in system
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2011 13:09
NOTE TO READER: The two-dollar bill features Thomas Jefferson's face. The printed version of this article In Volume 10 Issue 5 incorrectly associated the 2-dollar bill with Andrew Jackson.
When your grandparents gave you a two-dollar bill on your birthday they told you it was rare, and that you should hold on to it. And so it lies, tucked away in your drawer, never to see that light of day or hear the opening of another cash register.
Unfortunately the myth of the two-dollar bill's rarity has been over-exaggerated. The two-dollar bill makes up less than one percent of yearly produced bills, but still makes up 1.2 billion dollars of printed currency in the United States. In 2005 alone, the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving produced an estimated $122 million dollars worth of the bill.
Much like it's forgotten currency counterpart the penny (two billion dollars worth in circulation), which even gets thrown away in the trash by some, the two-dollar bill remains hidden in our sock drawers or bank vaults because of the low demand and use of the bill. Due to our sporadic use of the bill, urban legends spread that claim it's become worth more than it is, causing some people to hold on to them. And so they collect lint.
It's time to take back the two-dollar bill and bring Thomas Jefferson's face back in the limelight. The $1.2 billion is only a small fraction of the Federal Budget, but that's still a slice of money that should be circulating continuously in our economy. Next time you're at the bank ask for your money in two-dollar bills. The more visible the bill becomes, the less likely we will tuck it away and save it.
One of the best situations for the two-dollar bill comeback is in tipping situations. An influx of the bill in restaurants allows servers and hosts to obtain the bill and also hand them back as change to patrons. The more visible they become, the more people will use them. With our nation's fragile economy it's worth it to have any extra money in circulation.
A web site dedicated to spreading information about the bill, UsetheTwo.com, offers a bill tracking service. Every time you send a bill back into circulation, you can register it on the web site and follow its journey. They even offer a special club status called ‘Top Toms' for those who enter in over two thousand bills. Many of the Top Tom's have started writing on the bills they enter back into circulation. "This is not a rare bill," they write, in order to encourage the next patron to reuse the bill.
If everyone at FGCU exchanged a ten-dollar bill for five two-dollar bills, that would be roughly 60,000 two-dollar bills surged in our local economy that would just be sitting in bank vaults otherwise. Two-dollar bills may not stimulate or save our economy, but the more people who know about the forgotten bill the better. Let's start here. Let's save the two at FGCU.