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By the Numbers: How Americans Spend (More of) Their Money

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Every day, Americans spend an average of $101, according to Gallup. The bulk of that money goes to housing, food, and, transportation—but a surprising amount of it gets spent on Funyuns. Previously, we broke down where the $10.7 trillion that Americans spent in a single year went. Here’s an updated look at the lesser known slices of America’s big financial pie chart.

Touring Civil War battlefields: $442 million [PDF]

(That’s the tally for 15 NPS Civil War battlefields in five states. “[B]lue and gray makes green,” says Kevin Lanston, a deputy commissioner for tourism in Georgia. [PDF])

Drinking beer on Independence Day: $1 billion

Lighting up fireworks: $800 million

Lighting up (legal) marijuana: $6.9 billion

(“Sales are projected to increase to $21.6 billion by the year 2021,” according to Arcview Market Research.)

Eating Cheetos, Doritos, and Funyuns: $4.8 billion

Fixing car damage caused by potholes: $3 billion

De-icing streets with road salt: $2.3 billion

Buying bags of ice: $3 billion

Shopping for (artificial) Christmas trees: $854 million

Chopping (real) Christmas trees: $1.3 billion

Enjoying the great outdoors: $646 billion [PDF]

(If this number appears inflated, that’s because it reflects the total impact of outdoor recreation, including trip-related sales such as hotels, food services, and vacation expenses.)

Fishing trips: $41.8 billion

Bicycling trips: $81 billion [PDF]

Rock climbing/hiking trips: $12 billion [PDF]

Treating trips and falls: $76.3 billion

Birdwatching: $26 billion [PDF]

Paying for wild birdfeed: $3 billion

Treating dog bites: $570 million

Going under the knife for aesthetic cosmetic surgery: $13.5 billion

Purchasing cosmetics: $62 billion

Getting your nails done: $7.47 billion [PDF]

Getting hammered: $223.5 billion

(According to the CDC, this includes the cost of lost workplace productivity, health care expenses, law enforcement expenses, and impaired driving accidents.)

Binging at food trucks: $2.7 billion

Treating acid indigestion: $2 billion

Eating quinoa: $1.32 billion

Chewing chewing gum: $2 billion

Chewing chewing tobacco: $5.93 billion

Buying chew toys: $32 million

Going back to school: $75.8 billion

Prepping for standardized tests: $12 billion

Treating stress-related illnesses: $300 billion

Purchasing fake degrees: ~$100 million

(More than 100,000 fake degrees are sold each year in the U.S., at approximately $1000 a pop.)

Giving graduation gifts: $5.4 billion

Playing Fantasy Football: $4.6 billion

Watching the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl: $14.1 billion

Eating pizza: $32 billion

Eating supermarket hot dogs: $2.4 billion

Treating Ischemic heart disease: $88.1 billion

Buying heartfelt Valentine’s Day jewelry: $4.3 billion

Taking a risk with lottery tickets: $80.55 billion

Taking a risk with online dating: $2 billion

Buying flowers: $31.3 billion

Freshening up with mouthwashes, gargles, and rinses: $1.8 billion

Going to the bar: $20 billion [PDF]

Hitting the nightclub: $1.9 billion

Popping Himalayan Viagra: $5 to 11 billion

(Yarsagumba, or caterpillar fungus, is a parasitic fungus made by ghost moth larvae. This “Himalayan Viagra” has been considered an aphrodisiac for millennia. Numbers reflect global sales.)

Tuning the radio to smooth jazz: $190 million

Pregnancy: $55.6 billion

Last time we did this, a handful of readers expressed interest in seeing these numbers arranged in ascending order. If you’re drooling to see these numbers neatly ordered, a sheet is linked here. Enjoy!

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The Tiny Government Office That Will Replace Your Ripped, Burned, and Chewed-Up Cash
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Cash is designed to be sturdier than regular paper, but it isn't indestructible. A fire, flood, or hungry pet could be all it takes to reduce your emergency savings to a ruined heap of scraps. But just because a bank will no longer accept that money doesn't mean it's worthless. As Great Big Story explains in the video below, there's an entire division of the U.S. Department of Treasury dedicated to reimbursing people for damaged cash.

The Mutilated Currency Division processes roughly 23,000 cases a year, paying out about $40 million annually to replace bills that are no longer fit for circulation. It accepts money in any condition—the only requirement is that the claim must include at least 51 percent of the original note, to avoid reimbursing someone twice for the same bill.

After someone submits a claim for damaged cash, the team examines the bills with scalpels, tweezers, knives, or whatever other tools are necessary to go through the stacks and verify just how much money is there. Bills arrive in varying states: Some have been clumped together and petrified by water, charred in ovens, or chewed up by insects. In one infamous case, a farmer sent in the whole stomach of the cow that had swallowed his wallet.

Once the office processes the claim, it issues a reimbursement check for that amount, and the unusable money is officially taken out of circulation. But the U.S. government finds other uses for that ruined cash. For example, over 4 tons of old currency are mulched at a farm in Delaware every day.

You can watch the full video from Great Big Story below to learn more.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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Iceland Named Safest Country in the World for the 11th Year in a Row
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Each year, an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace analyzes the political situation in 163 countries to come up with the Global Peace Index, a ranking of how peaceful different regions of the world are. As Business Insider reports, for the 11th year in a row, Iceland took the top spot in the 2018 rankings, making it officially the most peaceful country on Earth.

According to the institute’s rankings, which take into account factors like government functioning, levels of corruption, violent crime rates, incarceration rates, terrorist attacks, weapons imports and exports, and military expenditures, Europe is the safest region in the world. Six of the top 10 safest countries in the world are located in Europe—Iceland (No. 1), Austria (No. 3), Portugal (No. 4), Denmark (No. 5), the Czech Republic (No. 7), and Ireland (No. 10). New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and Japan also made the top 10 list.

A ranking of the top-ranking countries on the peace index
Institute for Economics and Peace

A color-coded map showing the state of peace in each country
Institute for Economics and Peace

Overall, the report found that as a whole, global levels of peace have fallen for the fourth year in a row. Ninety-two countries have seen their rankings fall, while 71 countries improved their standing.

The U.S. was one of those 71 countries that moved up in the rankings, but overall, it had a pretty poor showing. Though Americans may see their homeland as a relatively safe place, by the institute’s rankings, it’s not even in the top 100 safest countries in the world. It ranks 121st, up one spot from last year. The report cites increasing political polarization, the presence of nuclear weapons, high rates of incarceration, weapons exports, and involvement in external conflicts as some of the factors that have kept the U.S.’s score low. On the bright side, the report notes that the country’s homicide rates have fallen substantially over the last decade.

Contrast that with our Nordic friend Iceland. While Iceland has a relatively high rate of gun ownership—“access to small arms” is one of the negative factors the index analyzes—it also has some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world. The country doesn’t have a military force, and police deploy weapons so infrequently that it made international news when, in 2013, Icelandic police shot a man to death for the first time in the country’s history as an independent republic. Most of the police force isn’t even armed. And, of course, the government takes elves' wishes into account while building new roads. (OK, maybe the report didn't include the elf factor in its analysis.)

Sounds like it's time to move to Iceland.

Read the whole report here.

[h/t Business Insider]

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