October 02, 2021

Some new U.S. $100 bills could be worth a lot

If you pick up the new $100 U.S. bill going into circulation on October 8, you might want to keep it in pristine condition and check the serial number. It could be worth a lot more than you think.

Coin collectors are stoked about the new bills going into circulation since it means that the serial numbers are reset to single digits. 

The number one note could be sold for as much as $10,000 to $20,000 in mint condition, an independent dealer told NBC. Any bills with low-serial numbers, such as 0000002, will bring in the most money.

But don't fret if you can't get your hands on the first few bills. If you have a bill with a certain serial number combination, such as eight of the same digit, otherwise known as "solids" in the dealer world, they could be worth about $3,000. You should also be on the lookout for serial numbers with the first four numbers mirroring the last four numbers, known as "radars," or serial numbers in sequential order, known as "ladders".

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September 30, 2021

Homeless survive using bitcoins

Bitcoins are becoming an acceptable form of digital currency around the world, so much so that the homeless are turning towards it to survive.

A homeless man in Florida is paid in bitcoins to drive traffic to videos. While Jesse Angle relies on food stamps, the extra money makes sure he has enough for meals every day, according to Wired magazine. It sounds surprising, but Angle has access to a laptop (other homeless friends he knows have access to smartphones), free Wi-fi and it helps that the digital currency keeps him safer from being robbed.

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September 16, 2021

England to switch over to plastic banknotes

If you enjoy the crisp feeling of a new paper bill, be warned, it might soon be a thing of the past with England joining the list of countries switching over its currency to plastic bills.

The Bank of England is taking its five and 10 pound bills on a roadshow to 50 public events to see what its residents have to say about the new bills within two months. They hope to have a final decision on the notes by December and the new bills could be implemented as early as 2016.

While it's expensive to switch over paper notes to plastic ones, there are a few key benefits such as the bill lasting longer, the bill staying cleaner since stains can be wiped off and most importantly, the new bills  protects the country from counterfeiters. The durability will help in the long run since that means there will be less production costs in the future, the deputy governor of the Bank of England told BBC.

Australia was the first country to introduce polymer bank notes into circulation in 1988. Canada only introduced the polymer bills into circulation since 2011, but countries such as Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand also use plastic bills.

And while the bills may last longer, money is still touched by many people carrying all kinds of germs. A recent study suggested that polymer notes could be a "breeding ground" for superbugs with the notes carrying a trace of the bug for 21 hours longer than other non-polymer currencies. That old saying of always wash your hands before eating is really good advice, especially after you've handled money.

Hopefully when England releases its polymer bills, it'll be smoother than some of the issues Canada has faced. A few months ago, Canadians wondered whether their bank notes had a secret scratch and sniff scent of maple syrup, which was denied by the Bank of Canada. There was also an outcry over the government's use of the Norwegian maple instead of the Canadian maple on the $20 bill and the rejection by focus groups of an Asian-looking woman on the $100 note.

While all the reasons about bills surviving a dip in a lake or being harder to tear are great, it's mainly important to see how well the bills are preventing counterfeiters. Of course, there are always people trying to forge money and counterfeits of the $100 bill were discovered in Westminster, B.C., in mid-May. But all in all, detected counterfeit bills have dropped and sits at its lowest level in years, according to the Globe and Mail. That's all we want our bills to do and hopefully it really is much harder to replicate these new bills.

Have you found a counterfeit bill? What did you do about it?

September 09, 2021

Germans resort to avoiding taxes by hiding cash in diapers

With the world banging on Switzerland's door to open up about its bank secrecy, Germans who stashed their cash in the tax haven are turning to creative ways to hide their unreported money.

“You regularly have instances of people wearing a secret money belt or concealing it in their underwear,” a customs spokesperson told Bloomberg.

It must have been a tight fit for a 72-year-old man to wear a women's corset packed with 150,000 euros. While another man hid 140,000 euros in adult diapers, officials have also found cash hidden in a shoe, a car battery and in a gingerbread house.

Last year, customs between the German-Swiss border discovered 20 million euros of undeclared cash (and that doesn't mean they found it all either). With German residents accounting for 5.2 million overnight stays in 2011, the largest nationality of foreign visitors the Switzerland, they have easy access to Swiss accounts.

Anyone bringing over more than $10,000 euros ($13,200 USD) and not declaring the amount is breaking the law. 

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March 27, 2021

Coin counters: rolling with the times

CoinsI remember my father with his neat stacks of coins lined up on the kitchen table, ready to roll up into coin wrappers of every denomination.

Quarters, nickels, dimes and, of course --- lots and lots of pennies!

He had a lot of patience sorting and counting the change and I admired how he managed to stuff those neat stacks of coins into the little paper wrappers with expert precision.

Now, many banks across the country are rolling out coin counting machines to offer convenience for all that spare change laying around the house.

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March 13, 2022

Canadians on a penny roll

What do you plan on doing with all your hard-earned pennies during the great Canadian penny phase out?

It seems like my change purse -- which was usually overflowing with pennies -- is becoming void of one-cent pieces.

I seem to be taking out my debit card a little more than usual -- especially if the store is rounding up and I will be short-changed so to speak.

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February 21, 2022

Canadians still penny pinching

PennyIt appears Canadians aren't ready to stop pinching their pennies quite yet.

In what could turn out to become a long goodbye, a new BMO Bank of Montreal report has found that many consumers are not ready to bid farewell to the beloved one-cent piece.

In fact, 73 per cent of those polled in the survey conducted by Pollara expect retailers to continue to accept pennies for their purchases at the check-out counter.

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January 30, 2022

The great Canadian penny roundup — er, round off

One cent.penny.pennies.Adrian Wyld.The Canadian PressWe won’t be penny pinching anymore — we’ll be nickel and diming it.

The Canadian penny’s days are numbered. On Feb. 4, consumers, businesses, charities and financial institutions are encouraged to start rounding off cash transactions.

That’s the date the Canadian government has set to phase out our penny and the date when the Canadian Mint will no longer be distributing the much loved one-cent piece. The final penny was actually minted last spring.

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January 15, 2022

That trillion-dollar platinum coin thing? It's not happening: report

Earlier this month came one of the more peculiar money tales of the still-young year, a news story that featured the words "trillion-dollar platinum coin" and no sense of accompanying irony.

In fact, the suggestion was very real: to address mounting national debt in the U.S., some pitched the idea of the Treasury Department minting a platinum coin worth $1 trillion, marching it over to the Federal Reserve and depositing it. Presto. Debt crisis solved, right?

Of course, the platinum coin pitch met plenty of resistance. Many dismissed it entirely, while those that didn't questioned its legality.

Well, everyone can just can it about the coin. It ain't happening, officially now, says the U.S. Treasury Department.

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January 04, 2022

Would minting a $1 trillion coin really solve America's debt woes?

For the past few days, there's been this wild money story out of the U.S., though you'd be forgiven if you haven't read much on it.

It's a tale so crazy that few mainstream media outlets have given it note, and perhaps when we look back that will be the narrative's most resounding legacy.

But here it is, nonetheless: as the U.S. continues on mired in debt, some have taken to suggesting the Treasury Department mint a $1 trillion platinum coin to avoid hitting the debt ceiling.

No, no, take your time. We'll wait while you roll your eyes. Yet the idea of minting a 13-figure coin actually has some powerful people discussing it, and even some who suggest it could work.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...