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Say Goodbye To the Dollar Bill?

Photo: Christopher Furlong

The government is thinking of eliminating the dollar bill and switching to the dollar coin, according to a study. It could potentially save billions of dollars, and trees!

The U.S. Government Accountability Office proposed the idea to the Treasury and Federal Reserve earlier this month, stating that replacing the bill with the coin could save the country nearly $5.5 billion in the next 30 years. According to the agency’s report, this is due to the fact that bills have a much shorter lifespan than coins, so switching to coins will save the government on having to print new bills often. It will also save millions of trees in the long run.

The GAO estimates that phasing out dollar bills in favor of coins would require a four-year transition period, during which the government invests in the new currency, but following that, the government would save an expected $522 million each year from the change.

So what’s the problem? If there are so many pros to this idea, why are Obama and the government hesitating? Well, the major con is that Americans simply prefer bills over coins. A lot of people, mostly men though, hate carrying around change. It’s heavy, noisy and only so much can fit into a wallet or pocket, whereas bills are thin enough to where a bunch can be fit into a small space.

Other countries, Canada being one of them, have already made the switch to dollar coins. The problem with America is that when previous efforts for coins over bills failed it was because bills were still in circulation, so people just chose to only use the paper form of money. One solution for this could be to eliminate all paper dollars as quickly as possible until only coins remain.

Don’t flip out though, because in the past 20 years similar proposals for coin dollars have been made four times before, but to no avail. This time around though the difference is that the overall climate in Washington is now more geared toward budget cutbacks, but given that it would take a number of years for the savings to kick in, the change from paper to coin dollars doesn’t seem likely.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or a recipe for disaster? Would you be for changing to the dollar coin over the bill, or would this be the worst thing to happen to America?

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