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15 Microprints Hiding in United States Currency

Even in the age of credit cards and online payments, most of us still handle legal tender every single day without ever stopping to look more closely at how money is designed. You probably hadn't noticed, for example, that most notes boast tiny words scattered about the larger images. Here are 15 of those hidden microprints. A word of warning if you’re a hands-on type who’s pulling out his or her wallet right about now: you’re going to need a microscope.

The $5 Bill

1. Along the left and right borders are the words "FIVE DOLLARS".

2. There's an "E PLURIBUS UNUM" at the top of the shield within the Great Seal and "USA" repeated in between the columns of the shield.

3. On the back, "USA FIVE" appears along one edge of the purple number five.

4. The actual Lincoln Memorial has state names engraved on it, which also appear on the back of the bill.


The $10 Bill

5. "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "TEN DOLLARS" reside below the portrait...

6. ... as well as inside the borders of the note.

7. "USA 10" is repeated beneath the torch.

The $20 bill:

8.  There's a "USA20" along the border of the first three letters of the blue "TWENTY USA" ribbon, to the right of Jackson's portrait.

9. "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 20 USA 20 USA" appears in black in the border below the Treasurer’s signature (there's also a "20" between the two and zero, and "USA" in the circle of the zero).

The $50 Bill

10. To the left of the portrait, there's a "FIFTY," "USA," and "50" inside two of the blue stars to the left of the portrait (one just to the left of the Federal Reserve seal and one just to the right). There's also "FIFTY" repeated within the border of the note.

11. "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" hides in President Grant’s collar.

The $100 Bill:

12, 13, 14, and 15. "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" rests on Benjamin Franklin’s jacket collar, there's a "USA 100" around the blank space containing the portrait watermark, "ONE HUNDRED USA" along the golden quill, and "100" repeating along the borders of the bill. (You'll really need a magnifying glass—and $100 bill—for this one, as high resolution images are hard to find). 


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What $100 Is Really Worth in Your State
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How far can you stretch your dollar? Depends on where you're located in the U.S. The Tax Foundation has taken data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to show the real value of $100 in each state. (We've also covered the D.C.-based think tank’s previously analyses, but the numbers changed ever-so-slightly year to year.)

The graphic below compares how much $100 is worth in goods compared to the national average. For instance, in high-price areas like California, New York, and D.C., your $100 is worth significantly less than the U.S. average—in those places, your money has the purchasing power of around $88.18, $86.70, and $85.47, respectively. If you live in Mississippi, meanwhile, your dollars go farther than in any other state. Your $100 is the equivalent of $116.01.

A color-coded map of the U.S. lists the real value of $100 in each state.
Tax Foundation

The data isn't surprising. People move from high-priced regions to cheaper areas of the country all the time. And it’s not just a matter of real estate. In Los Angeles, the average price of a beer is $3.64, but in New York, it’s $5.36, according to GoEuro’s annual Beer Index.

Cities, naturally, tend to be more expensive than rural places, so where you live within a state also has a pretty big impact. It’s much more expensive to live in Manhattan than to live in Syracuse, New York, or to live in Chicago versus downstate Illinois, as the Tax Foundation’s previous work has shown. This difference, however, is generally counter-balanced by the fact that expensive areas typically have higher salaries, too. Minimum wage laws, tax rates, and other factors also play a role.

It’s not just a theoretical exercise. A slight variation in the real value of your dollars can have a significant impact in your standard of living. The Tax Foundation explains:

Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia. In other words, by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after-tax income in Mississippi, you would need after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living.

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11 Things You Should Always Buy at Thrift Stores
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For some savvy shoppers, thrift stores are the retail gift that keeps on giving. From vintage dresses to DVDs, toys, and home furnishings, there's bound to be something for everyone—but these 11 items are always worth the discount splurge. (Of course, you should always make sure the products are in good condition and free from defects!)

1. WOODEN FURNITURE

Woman restoring a piece of old furniture
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Looking to upgrade your particle board living room set? Thrift stores are a great place to score solid wood furnishings at bargain prices if you’re watching your wallet. Even if you don't end up finding your vintage dream piece, items that are more grandma than retro-glam can still be transformed with paint, varnish, and brand-new fixtures.

2. BOOKS

Old, dusty hardcover books on a shelf
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From classic tomes to buzzy bestsellers, you’ll likely spot books worth reading on sale at your local thrift store, selling for a fraction of their online or bookstore price.

3. BABY CLOTHES

A stack of folded baby clothing sitting on a table next to a brown teddy bear.
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Babies turn into toddlers—and outgrow their tiny outfits— seemingly overnight. We know it can be hard to resist the impulse to splurge on adorable, full-priced baby products, but you’ll save lots of money by buying basic newborn ensembles (which will likely get stained by spilled food and spit-up) at thrift stores—but make sure that the clothes (and any buttons) are in good condition and not damaged, and be mindful of products that may have been recalled.

4. MATERNITY CLOTHES

A pregnant woman sitting in a chair, looking at a sonogram.
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Don’t want to pay top dollar for clothing you’ll only wear for a few months? You’ll likely find next-to-new maternity outfits at thrift stores, donated by mothers who’ve re-embraced their pre-pregnancy wardrobes.

5. CLASSIC VINYL RECORDS

A stack of vinyl records sitting in a row
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Vinyl records are officially hip again. Splurge on new releases if you want, but many classics can be purchased at thrift stores for a fraction of what they'd cost in record stores.

6. WOODEN HANGERS

Wooden hangers on a clothing rack
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Unlike their brittle plastic or malleable wire counterparts, quality wooden hangers last forever. They’re also great for hanging heavier items like winter coats, and they don’t leave creases or dents in sweaters or shirts. That said, wooden hangers can be expensive to buy in bulk—but at a thrift store, you’ll likely find plenty for pennies (and some might even come for free with clothing items).

7. BIKES

A red bicycle on a porch with a
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Serious cyclists should probably invest in a lightweight performance bike, but casual riders wanting a convenient way to cruise around town can likely find a well-made single-speed ride for cheap at their local thrift store.

8. HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

A multi-layered, rainbow-colored tutu
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From poofy '80s prom dresses to ballerina tutus and lab coats, thrift stores are filled with tons of inspiration for creative (and low-cost) Halloween costumes. Not into DIY-ing your own spooky ensemble? Keep your eyes peeled for brand-new costumes purchased from national retailers, or barely-worn ones donated by trick-or-treaters.

9. NOVELTY KITCHEN TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

A bread making machine
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Expensive appliances like bread making machines, pasta makers, and popcorn machines are fun, but they often end up collecting dust in the back of a cabinet. If you really want a certain novelty kitchen item, keep a lookout at your local thrift store to see if you can score a gently-used model before buying new. (Just remember to give whatever you buy a thorough cleaning before you use it!)

10. PICTURE FRAMES

A black-and-white portrait of a family inside a white antique picture frame.
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While shopping at thrift stores, look past the ugly art and focus instead on whether the garish pictures and still life paintings are encased in beautiful frames. Once you're home, remove the art and pop in your own images. (Apartment Therapy has a useful tutorial to walk you through the re-framing and matting process.)

11. GENTLY-USED TOOLS

Gently-used old tools sitting on a wooden table
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Every renter or homeowner should own an emergency toolbox to fix small leaks, hang pictures, and tackle troublesome toilet issues. Thrift stores sometimes sell hardy used tools for cheap, and you may even score products from companies like Craftsman, which have lifetime warranties that guarantee replacements for tools with normal wear-and-tear (be aware, though, that those companies might require a proof-of-purchase).

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