I’m not always smart on money matters!

It has been 10 months since I moved to America. I’m embarrassed to say this, but only just now did I figure out currency in America. Learning the coinage of the United States has clearly not been a priority for me. In our day-to-day life, there is very little association with physical money exchange.

Everywhere & everyone uses cards in America, except for the street vendors sometimes. So why bother with those messy metal circles?


Why am I doing this now?

The simple answer is – why not? This task has been in my head for a very long time and I always shrugged it aside thinking it is not that important. But hey, it is important. I know everything about Indian coins, notes, and demonetization. I want to understand the currency of the new country I am calling my home.

It took me this long to write this post because I assumed the coins of both countries will be similar. When I realized they were not, I avoided understanding.  The coins in India are 10 paise, 25 paise, 50 paise,1 rupee, 2 rupees, 5 rupees. In reality, nobody prefers using anything below 1 rupee and the design is very clear with a big number written on top of the coin.

The First Lesson after moving here

My husband keeps this bowl of coins at his work desk. He dips his right hand in this bowl to play as he codes from his left hand. It feels like the churning of coins is churning his brain muscles. Why does he keep this bowl of coins you may ask? This bowl is an orphanage for all the lost coins we find in mysterious places around our house. I am not saying that he loses them. They notoriously leave his pockets and fall all over the house -cracks in the couch, under the bed, on bath mats, under pillowcases, and in laundry bags.

Our beloved bowl

My First Encounter With Coins was funny. One day during our normal evening stroll, we planned to eat ice cream from a corner store. Why not take the coins from this bowl? As I started looking through the coins, it overwhelmed me. The dime is the smallest but it is larger in value than 1 cent. There are so many coins of 1 cent in the bowl but how can I collect 100 of these to make 1 dollar,  which is still not enough for ice cream? Chuck it – and my education stopped until today when I decided to get to the bottom of it.

The Currency of the United States

We all know that it is a Dollar and is denoted by $.  Many other countries use their own versions of dollars, for example – Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, etc. To avoid any confusion, The United States dollar is most precisely stated as USD with the symbol $.

Finally Tried To Sort These Today

The Coins in American Currency

  1. 1 cent,
  2. 5 cents
  3. 1 dime a.k.a 10 cents
  4. Quarter a.k.a 25 cents
  5. 50 Cents

50 Cents is not very common, which is a shame as I got excited reading a coin with the same name as the band 50 cents. In all honesty, I’m not sure why we have 1 and 5 cents pieces in circulation when a) everyone uses cards and b) can we not just roundup?

Fun Things To Know About The Coins

  1. Since we are using these coins, we must know the obvious math of how many will make a dollar which will give you a 1 dollar pizza slice somewhere in New York ( I have never tried it). 
    1. 100 coins of 1 cent will make $1.  
    2. 20 coins of 5 cents will make $1. 
    3. 10 coins of 1 dime will make $1. 
    4. 4 coins of a quarter will make $1
  2. 1 dime is the smallest looking coin but it means 10 cents
  3. 50 cent coins are rare but I am eagerly looking for them
  4. 1 cent is reffered as a penny
  5. 5 cent as nickel
  6. 20 cents is actually called the half
  7. All these coins have the currency number written on them. I had poor vision so I could not see earlier. 
  8. If you ever get confused – the pretty brass looking one is 1 cent which is the smallest, the bigger than that silver one is 5 cent, the smallest looking of all is a dime and it is 10 cents. 25 cents a.k.a the quarter is big enough to identify and perhaps the most useful one.
  9. Bill means a dollar. In India, we often refer to a bill as a receipt of some sale. Here when someone says the bill, they are either talking about the notes/dollar/currency or about Bill Clinton, the former president. Speaking of former presidents many forms of bills arel named after presidents – Abe Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, Benjamin Franklin.

The bills are simple but their nicknames are cute

  • $1 is often referred to as a buck
  • $5 is called Lincoln 
  • $10 has a fandom name as hamilton
  • $20 has the name Jackson
  • $50 has names as grant and I had no idea about this one
  • $100 as we all know is called Benjamin
  • 1 million $ here is a thousand thousand which is $1,000,000. For Indians – 1 lakh rs in India is 100 thousands (Rs 100,000) and 1 Million in India is 10 lakhs which is Rs 1,000,000. 
  • 1 Billion $ here means a thousand million which is 1,000,000,000. 1 Crore in India means 10 Million which is Rs 10,000,000. Samjhe?

The information I found mostly from Wikipedia and links are Link 1, Link 2, Link 3 & Link 4

There is much more to understanding American currency and you will be seeing many more posts in the coming weeks and months. Just depends on how quickly I grasp this knowledge.

Hope this article was useful to you. If you have any questions regarding moving to America then let me know in the comment section.

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