Saving Money $2 At a Time

I still remember receiving $2 bills for my birthday every year. As if a family tradition, my grandparents (who lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California) sent them to me in Hawaii every year without fail. There was never a surprise, just a $2 bill in the letter. Without missing the message, my parents always made us call them to express our appreciation.

At the time, I used to think they were a bit tight. Later I would learn that when they passed on, they had amassed over $125,000 (in the 1980’s) in bank savings! I was proud of them and understood why they did what they did.

They knew something about saving money. Maybe there hope was that I would choose to save the $2 bills as keepsakes—I still have them 30 years later—and not spend them. (Later I would learn the importance of, “compound interest”.) According to the United States Department of the Treasury, it seems to be what most people do with them.

In spite of its relatively low value among the denominations of U.S. currency, the two-dollar bill is one of the most rarely seen in circulation and actual use. They are almost never given as change for commercial transactions, and thus consumers rarely have them on hand. After 13 years in business as a day-to-day retailer at Successories of Hawaii, I can’t remember accepting a $2 bill as form of customer payment. Production of the note is quite low; approximately 1% of all notes currently produced are $2 bills.

The $2 bill has not been removed from circulation and is still a circulating denomination of United States paper currency. The Federal Reserve System does not, however, request the printing of that denomination as often as the others. As of April 30, 2007 there were $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills in circulation worldwide.

In one of her catch phrases, gold-hued financial planning guru, Suze Orman, put it in perspective well, “People first, then money, then things”. My grandmother had her own way of summing the same up. In every letter she wrote, she signed-off, “Remember you are loved”. I agree that we all need to know that we are loved. But at eleven years old, I assumed that. I just wanted a $20, not a $2 bill. Thanks, grandma.

United States

Department of the Treasury

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