navigation bar Houghton Mifflin History-Social Science Neighborhoods
Weekly Reader ® Current Events

Dollars and Cents

The government is made up of the people who create laws. But the government also makes the money.

Paper Money

Have you ever wondered where paper money comes from?

Each year the U.S. Treasury, a government department, decides how much new paper money is needed. In addition to “dollars,” paper money is also called “bills.” The Treasury prints new bills using large machines, much in the same way that newspapers are printed. But don't try printing money yourself—only the government is allowed to do that!

The government prints about $696 million in paper money every day.

Destroying Money Is a Hard Job!

The government also asks banks to send in all the old, falling apart bills that they get from their customers. Treasury workers destroy the old bills and give banks new ones. Each year the Treasury gives out millions of dollars in new paper money to replace destroyed money.

Treasury workers say their job is like a puzzle. Workers carefully look at the damaged bills the banks send in. They must be able to see at least half of a bill before they can send a new bill to replace it.

Hey, Mom—Our Dog Ate Our Money!

What do you think causes bills to fall apart or get damaged? The most common causes are fire, water, and animals.

Do Cents Make Sense?

The government also makes billions of pennies. A penny equals one cent. It costs the government one cent for every penny it makes!

Some people say the government would save money by not making the penny. Other groups want to keep the penny.

Will the penny survive? Do you think it should?