Feb 09

21 surprising facts about money!

Reading Time: 9 mins

Did you know that nearly 50% of people don’t know the difference between a Cash ISA and a Stocks and Shares ISA – even though not knowing could be costing them dearly (we’ll come to that later!)?

That and a whole lot of other fascinating facts about money are listed here…take a look….you can impress your friends down the pub!


1. Paper money began in China

Chinese Money

The first recorded use of paper money is in 7th Century China during the Tang Dynasty.

Merchants who didn’t want to carry around heavy copper coins exchanged privately issued bills instead.

However the first case of the paper itself actually being the money came about during the Song Dynasty in the 11th Century after a copper shortage.

The Chinese had been exchanging paper money 500 years before the practice became widespread in Europe during the 16th Century, and had even suffered a financial crisis because of high inflation!

History lesson over…for now!


2. The top 1% wealthiest people in the world have 50% of the world’s wealth

Wealthy couple in open top car

Yes, this one is pretty shocking – according to Oxfam, the top 1% of wealthiest people have 50% of the world’s wealth and, as of 2017, they actual own slightly over half (50.1%)

Worse than that, the eight richest people in the world have the same amount of money between them as the bottom 50% of the world!

The 3.5 billion poorest adults, who account for 70% of the world’s working age population, only have collectively 2.7% of global wealth.


3. London has the most ultra high net-worth individuals

expensive sports car parked in Mayfair, London

Ultra high net-worth individuals are those who have $30m (£24.2m) or more in assets besides their main home – and London is the place with the highest number of them.

There are over 4,000 of these families living in London – which means it’s something of a hotspot for the 1%!


4. There really is a 100 trillion dollar note

one hundred trillion dollar note

During a period of intense hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, where a loaf of bread could cost $300 billion, a $100 trillion note was produced.

Obviously the note is, in fact, worthless…or rather it is currently worth a whole 40 U.S. cents.

However there are big money English notes which are worth exactly what they say they are worth. These notes are called Giants and Titans.

A Giant is a £1 million note – imagine finding one of those on your way home from work!

But if you have a Titan, £1m is just chump change – a Titan is a £100m note!! (I’ve run out of exclamation marks.)

They exist to ensure the value of the Scottish and Northern Irish notes, for each note they print in their own currency they have to deposit the same value in sterling with the Bank of England.

These notes aren’t in circulation and they are guarded very careful, but maybe that’s for the best – till workers lose their mind if you pay with a £50 note, so goodness knows what this would do to them.


5. More Monopoly money is printed each year than real money in the U.S.

Colourful monopoly money

About $30 billion of Monopoly money is printed each year, compared to $972 million in the US.

This means that Monopoly is printing 30 times the amount of money that the U.S. is!


6. UK adults are over £1.5 trillion in debt

Cartoon man with debt ball and chain

Yes, depressingly, at the end of November 2017 people in the UK owed £1.566 trillion altogether.

This is an extra £1,040.96 per adult compared to the same time last year!


7. …and the average UK adult is over £30,000 in debt

Couple stressing over finances

Following on from 6. we found that the average debt of a UK adult is £30,253.

This is worrying as the average salary is £27,271, meaning the average adult owes more than they earn in a year!

Click here to read our article on how to get out of debt.


8. Seaside towns have some of the highest rates of bankruptcy

Cornwall debt ball and chain graphic

A result of declining tourism, as of August 2017, seven out of the ten areas for personal bankruptcy were seaside towns.

Torquay was found to have the highest, with 43 insolvencies for every 10,000 people. Scarborough and Hull also fair badly against the national average (which is 19.7 for every 10,000).


9. over 25% of UK households have no emergency savings at all

Stressed mum

According to a recent study, 27% of people living in the UK have no emergency savings they can access.

The average Briton saves £150 a month, but another survey found that just under-half of working age UK residents have less than £100 in savings and 17 million fail to even pay off the monthly balance on their credit cards.

Click here to visit our save money section with lots of money saving tips.


10. Over 14 million people are living in poverty in the UK

homeless child sleeping on the street

Despite an improving economy, there are still over 14 million people living in poverty in the UK – that’s over one in five of the population.

There’s no one definition of poverty, but a standard definition is 60% below the average national income.


11. Over £19 billion of benefits and tax credits go unclaimed each year

Pile of wads of £20 notes

According to national charity Turn2us, over £19 billion of benefits and tax credits go unclaimed each year and £268 million is available in grants.

They say 78% of people on low income are missing out on means tested benefits because they do not believe they would be entitled to them and the vast majority of people didn’t even know that charity grants exist.

In particular, a lot of housing benefit appears to to unclaimed. Recent stats show £4.8 billion worth of Housing Benefits go unclaimed, with 1.6m families missing out on £3,000 per year!

If you’re not sure what benefits you’re entitled to, visit Turn2us and use their benefit calculator tool.


12. The first ATM machine was installed in 1967

Taking card from ATM

The ATM was the brainchild of Scottish inventor John Shepherd-Barron, who came up with the idea whilst in the bath!

He pitched the idea to Barclays and the machine, once built, was installed in London in 1967.


13. There are BIG differences between cash ISA and Stocks and Shares ISA returns

Stock Exchange graph

Most people only use cash ISAs because they’re safe and familiar – but they could be missing out on a lot of money!

Fidelity Personal Investing calculated that if you had invested £15,000 in a regular cash ISA in February 2005, you would end up with £16,321.36 by February 2015.

However, had you invested the same amount in the FTSE All Share Index using a Stocks and Shares ISA, you would end up with £31,889.69. That’s a difference of £15,000!

Click here to find out more about Stocks and Shares ISAs.


14. By saving just £300 a month, your child’s pension could be worth £1.03 million

Mother and daughter with a piggy bank

If you saved £300 a month for your child from birth until the age of 18 in a good Junior SIPP, your child’s pension could be worth £1.03 million by the time they retire even if they make no further contributions (retiring age 65, assuming a 5% annual return.)

Click here to read 7 great ways to invest for your children.


15. Planning for their financial future is the thing Brits are most likely to delay

Just do it written on a mug

On average, Britain spend eleven hours a week procrastinating, and planning for their financial future is the thing most Brits delay (followed closely by exercising, chores and dieting) according to a survey by Beagle Street.

Common distractions include television, social media and going to make a cup of tea.


16. Over 3 million 20-34 years are living with their parents

Adult children at home with parents

Because of rising house prices, raising to 10 times earnings for the under 35s, more and more young people are being forced either to rent or to stay at home with their parents.

The increase in people renting and saving up large deposits for a house will make it harder for younger people to save towards other things such as their pension.


17. The trend for children to earn more than their parents ended eight years ago

Little girl looking grumpily at piggy bank

Another depressing fact, children stopped earning more than their parents eight years ago – and many are ending up worse off.

Even those successive generations who did earn more than their predecessors spent more, meaning they’ve saved very little.


18. Every bank note is contaminated with cocaine

Shocked business man with rolled note and cocaine in his nose

Yes, bit worrying this one – every bank note is contaminated with cocaine within a few weeks of circulation.

That’s not all, did you know there are more germs on a £1 coin than on a toilet seat? Or that the average banknote has over 26,000 bacteria on it?

The lesson here is clear, wash your hands after handling money – dirty money indeed!


19. In 1945, 12% of British notes were fake

pound notes graphic

In an attempt to destabilise the British economy during the Second World War, Nazi Germany produced a large amount of fake British notes.

By 1943, 500,000 fake banknotes a month were being created by the Germans and, in the end, 12% of British notes in circulation were fake.

The British government responded by introducing the metal thread and stopping its production of higher value bank notes.

Thankfully fake notes are a lot less common now. In 2014, 430,000 fake notes were taken out of circulation – all together they had a value of £8.1 million. This, however, is a tiny percentage of the 3 billion real notes in circulation.


20. Harriet Tubman might be the first woman to feature on a dollar note in 150 years…might be

20 dollar bill

In 2015, the US Treasury revealed that Harriet Tubman would feature on the new $10 bill in place of Alexander Hamilton.

This is the first time a woman would have been featured on a dollar note for 150 years. So much for equality.

Harriet Tubman was picked as part of a campaign called ‘Women on 20s’, which wanted to get a woman portrait on a bill.

In 2016, however, it was decided that Hamilton would remain on the $10 bill (at least in part due to the huge success of the ‘Hamilton’ musical), and instead Tubman would feature on the $20 bill. The current U.S. Treasury Secretary has now said, however, he won’t commit to putting Tubman on the $20 bill. (I know, we’re shocked too – it seems like such an otherwise progressive administration…)

You’d think putting a female on a banknote would be uncontroversial but a woman who campaigned to have Jane Austen on the £10 banknote here in the UK was subject to nasty and abusive Twitter comments, including rape threats.

It’s quite unbelievable that such horrific sexism exists in the 21st Century!


21. Monkeys are risk averse


Many of us miss out on good money making opportunities because we’re too scared to take a risk.

Humans aren’t alone in being like this – a recent study, featured in the Journal of Political Economy,  has found that monkeys are risk averse too!

The experiment involved giving a group of Capuchin monkeys a currency (in this case coins) and allowing them to exchange that currency for food.

The monkeys are given a choice whether to accept the amount of food present at that moment or to wait for the experimenter to alter the amount of food – it might be more, it might be less.

It was found that the Capuchin monkeys tended to opt for the amount of food present rather than take a risk.

It was also found that if the value of the food decreased, the monkeys would buy more, showing how much of our reaction to finance maybe innate and a result of our evolution.


Did you find these facts surprising? Maybe you have an interesting fact you could share? Let us know in the comments below.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

I will definitely be washing my hands after handling money now.

Related Articles


Make Money and Save Money

ideas for everyone

Send this to a friend