Where can you stash $1 million in $100 dollar bills?


Rob Cockerham says: "A gal named Brittany was so impressed with the "How much is Inside a Million Dollars?" article from 2005 that she withdrew 10,000 ones from her bank to better simulate the $1,000,000 experience. She sent a few pictures, and I asked her for a few more. They turned out pretty nicely."

If you recall, the largest denomination of money in the US are the $100 bills. If you want to get one million dollars cash into a small package, your best bet is by stacking 10,000 of the $100 bills. Like most bills, $100s come from the bank wrapped in bundles of 100 bills ($10,000 bundles). Of course, $1 bills are the same size as $100s, so Brittany's pictures will accurately indicate the mass of one million dollars.
A Million Dollars - Currency Photos


  1. She really withdrew $10k from her bank to make these photos? I sure hope she doesn’t get robbed or her house doesn’t burn down. (I think I would have used movie prop money.)

    1. yeah right, imagine the look on the teller’s face too when Brittany rocked up and asked her to count out 10,000 $1 bills.

  2. A million bucks in prop money costs a few hundred dollars. Withdrawing $10k for a few days and depositing it again just costs lost interest and teller fees. Real money also seems to be much greener than average prop money.

    1. Acutually, since one sees mostly the front, blank paper and a few real bills would work nicely.

      1. That’s actually used in a popular scam… where I’m from it’s known as the “paquete chileno”

    2. No matter what the haters say, if you have 10k cash on hand to do this with, then you’re probably not doing it wrong.

  3. I once got to see (and touch) ten million dollars in twenties. It was in the 90s at Rhein-Main AB in Germany. The finance office had received a large shipment of cash which was meant for distribution to the thousands of service members processing through the base on their way to the 1st Gulf War. Back in those days, travel allowances were often disbursed as a cash advance and the base finance office needed that much to have enough to disburse.

    There were four or five (I think) PALLETS of cash and the folks at the finance office had a grand time in the vault photographing people reclined on top of the money. They also broke apart the pallets and spelled out TEN MILLION with the banded stack of cash. It was the most money any of us had ever seen at one time. Good times…

  4. Rob already did it with fake money! Using real money was the only way it would be interesting.

  5. I’d be so freaked out to have that much cash that I would have definitely unplugged the microwave before I put any in there. Even if I never planned to shut the door.

    1. Did you know that microwaving new dollar bills for 10 to 30 seconds (depending on the power of the microwave) is one way to prevent them from sticking together? A bank teller suggested it to me. We tried it at a store I used to work at, and it works. In the end we decided it was too much trouble and just crumpled them a little before we rebundled them for the registers.

  6. Someone ought to take out a bunch of pennies from the bank and check out the feasability of a Scrooge McDuck money bath.

    1. Wouldn’t prove anything. It has been shown in the comics that Scrooge’s talent of diving into money can’t be replicated by most people, even insanely rich ones. It’s usually an ancestor or decendant (via the nephews, I assume) who display the same talent.

      In the European comics his bin is filled with gold coins, by the way, and the lore is, that he simply cannot be harmed by gold. (Except, of course, when he can,)

    2. Someone ought to take out a bunch of pennies from the bank and check out the feasibility of a Scrooge McDuck money bath.

      There’s a scene in Shortbus where two characters ask each other what was the most money they ever got for turning a trick, and one of them comments that at least he knew what he was worth. It would be interesting to see a comparison of regular folks lying on a pile of their net worth compared to Oprah or Donald perched on a mountain of cash. Or maybe a prostitute on an hour’s worth of pennies compared to the Koch brothers on an hour’s worth of hundreds.

  7. and now that Brittany has taken these photographs, she can rest easy knowing that she can give baristas and bus drivers exact change for the next three hundred years.

  8. I have very little money, so I’m interested in figuring out how to get some more. Whoever did this apparently knows how to get money, at least enough to be able to use $10K for an inane stunt. It doesn’t seem like intelligence is a necessary prerequisite. Time and effort don’t seem to be factors either as Brittany obviously has plenty of time on her hands. Any advice?

    1. Line of Credit? Interest on $10,000 @ 5% p.a. would be ~$1.50 per day or there about. Plus whatever banking fees to withdraw / deposit. Not a lot of money for some stunt photos.

    2. @blacksquare: Make sure you try insulting strangers on the internet. That’s a clear way to not only make lots of money, but enhance your reputation in a way that will ensure that many people will want to give a person like you lots of money.

      Next up: Traveling through airport security with $10K in ones…

      1. Since when did being nice have anything to do with making money? If anything the opposite seems true. I present Trump, Koch(s) and the many other top wealth holders of the world as evidence.

  9. I’m hoping someone with A BUNCH of spare cash in the bank will take Brittany’s work to the next level, and show us using $1.00 bills how much space a billion and even trillion will take up. I bet it’s more than a couple of microwaves!

    Before you get too excited, there was a previous link here a few years back that shows the sheer enormity of $1 trillion.


    Looking at the dimensions on the million dollar pile, it appears to be smaller than what Brittany ended up with. I have feeling the trillion dollar graphic is a bit understated too.

  10. I think the photos would have looked nicer if she’d just put a single $100 bill on top of each stack.

  11. the real question now is what does $1mil look like in stacked up pre-paid credit cards?

  12. My favorite part about this is that she probably would have needed to file a Currency Transaction Report for this, because it’s $10,000. (Can’t remember if the limit is technically $10,000, or $10,000.01).

    The teller would have subtly tried to figure out what she was doing with this much cash too, it wouldn’t surprise me if a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) was filed when her answer was “just for fun!”

    1. From the Suspicious Activity Report wikipedia entry:

      The report can start with any bank employee. They are generally trained to be alert for suspicious activity, such as people trying to wire money out of the country without identification, or someone with no job who starts depositing large amounts of cash into an account.

      The USA’s financial surveillance apparatus is some pretty Orwellian stuff, with your friendly local bank teller being required — by law — to report you if they think you’re “suspicious.”

  13. Well if you don‘t want to carry a suitcase around you might want to switch to Euro’s, they come in 500 too. But you might check if your dear partner in trade will accept them. After all ‘the US $100 is the international currency of bad shit’ right ?
    Having said that i wonder if there are other, better ways to move around large values in smalle stacks. Bigger currencys ? Gold, platinum (still quite heavy)? Diamonds are the best i can think of. Any ideas ?

  14. I was a little bemused by the idea of someone having access to $10,000 too. I thought that when Seinfeld et al. lent each other thousands at a time they were just pulling the old “nobody really lives like this” sitcom thing. But then I remember seeing a friend’s dad’s bank statement when I was still in school; it was the first time I’d seen six figures on a genuine financial document.

    Different people have different amounts of money. I enjoy sleeping, which luckily for me is a pretty cheap pastime.

    1. Having access to $10,000 is not the same as being able to afford spending $10,000! I’m a small business owner, and take in a few times that every month. Pulling out $10k for a day wouldn’t be a big deal (aside from the security risk and the bank paperwork), but it’d have to go right back in to pay the bills. I suspect a lot of business owners are in the same position.

  15. It’s interesting how society is so preoccupied with money. I like how it shows the money much smaller than you’d expect it to be, but it still has huge impact.

  16. I feel the urge to photoshop some the wrapping bands to the color for 100’s. $1,000,000 sitting on a Hello Kitty bedspread would be a great image.
    Also, yesterday I was watching The Big Lebowski on TV and felt it was improbable that The Dude would be able to easily wave a briefcase filled with $1M cash over his head. Yup.

  17. Not much use without a street address to go with the photos . . .

    I once did a job for a Dutch commercial production company. They have no corporate taxes, so they were well aware of the fact that their money would spend better if they paid vendors in in the US in cash. The producer complained about how hard it was in the US to get $500,000 in cash from a bank, but somehow managed to get it together within a few day’s time.

    My paltry portion of the loot was $27,000, which I was paid in $100 bills. I laid it out on the coffee table for my wife, when she got home from work. For a day, we got to play Columbian drug smugglers with the money.

    Of course, I filled out all the necessary paperwork and never considered making multiple deposits smaller than $10,000, if anyone is wondering. Never.

  18. Until 2000, Canadian bills used to come in the $1000 flavour and my husband and I were fortunate enough to see one once a year tucked into the Christmas tree. My father-in-law took great pleasure in them. They always looked fake to me.

    1. Yeah, I can’t believe that the biggest denomination of currency is $100. My step-dad once showed me a $1000 bill he got from one of his clients. It really was something interesting to see. Probably something I’ll never see again. I didn’t know they discontinued them.

  19. here’s what most people can’t visualize,
    a billion dollars is a stack of hundreds abour 4/5ths of a MILE high.
    my net worth in hundreds wouldn’t be taller than me and i’m only 5’6″.
    the net worth of most people in the world? india? china? sierra leone? about a quarter of an inch, if that.
    1/4″ vs. 4/5 mile. disparity? ask he koch bro’s.

  20. I have to agree with the others who don’t see access to $10k as being that big of deal. I suppose if you’re still a student or early in your career it might be a big deal, but anyone who’s been employed for more than 5 years or so, and who hasn’t gotten totally screwed by a foreclosure or something, shouldn’t have too much trouble coming up with $10,000 cash.

    Assuming one is saving about 10% of one’s income, and working at $30,000 a year, it only takes a bit over 3 years to hit $10,000.

    And if you’re young (say, under 30) and single, you should probably be saving closer to 20%, so you can invest more aggressively and make the interest work more for you so that you can drop your savings rate somewhat when/if you get kids or a house or whatever.

    1. Assuming one is saving about 10% of one’s income, and working at $30,000 a year, it only takes a bit over 3 years to hit $10,000.

      Gross: $30K
      Taxes: $10K
      Health insurance: $7K
      Rent, utilities: $10K

      Oops, already at $27K and haven’t hit food and transport yet. People who make $30K can barely eat, let alone save.

      1. Assuming one is saving about 10% of one’s income, and working at $30,000 a year, it only takes a bit over 3 years to hit $10,000.

        Gross: $30K
        Taxes: $10K
        Health insurance: $7K
        Rent, utilities: $10K

        Oops, already at $27K and haven’t hit food and transport yet. People who make $30K can barely eat, let alone save.

        Depends where you are. When I was a grad student, my stipend was $20K. I received some medical benefits and I don’t know how valuable they were. But my total federal/state income tax was nowhere near 33%. It was more like 15-20%, if that. And my rent plus utilities, for a two bedroom apartment, was $7300/year — when I lived with friends, I paid less than $5000 a year. This was about four years ago, in a small city of about 300K people.

        Now, I realize if one lives in NYC, or is raising a family, $20-30K is not a lot of money, but I think you are being a little unrealistic in your cost estimates.

      2. Healthy insurance can cost 7k a year?!? My bf here in NZ spends just over 600$ which pays 80% of his bills. I just get on with no healthy insurance and depend on the socialist health system. Couldn’t you start your own healthy insurance by saving 7k a year?

        1. Healthy insurance can cost 7k a year?!? My bf here in NZ spends just over 600$ which pays 80% of his bills. I just get on with no healthy insurance and depend on the socialist health system. Couldn’t you start your own healthy insurance by saving 7k a year?

          Lucky you. Here in the US, we don’t have that. My health coverage is $537 per month plus co-pays for visits and prescriptions. As to self-insuring, that’s a bad joke. I spent a night in the hospital ~ seven years ago while being diagnosed with gallstones, and the bill was $30K. My uninsured-at-the-time cousin is still paying off her appendectomy from the 1980s.

          Since I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, my chances of needing joint surgery or a mitral valve replacement or whatever is fairly high. And my particular health issues are sufficiently obscure that they never factored into insurance pricing. If I had a problem that showed up on the questionnaire, my rates would be higher or I would have been denied coverage.

          People who don’t live in the US don’t seem to appreciate that life here – health care, college, etc. – is a la carte.

          1. I just keep forgetting that it really costs that much. Putting into a yearly amount is what reminded me. It’s scary as hell. Are US life insurance policies similarly expensive? We pay $25 a fortnight for me and my bf for 300k cover. That’s a bit more than usual because he has a very mild form of epilepsy that doesn’t result in loss of consciousness.

      1. My grandmother was blind and she said they all taste like cocaine, thanks to counting machines and ATMs. She just folded them differently in her wallet to tell them apart.

  21. Way back I was helping my friend collect on his paper route. Back then the paper was $6 per month. One gentleman paid with a $100. Cleaned out the change. I sat there tossing the 100 up and catching it. It was surreal.

  22. I learned this 20 years ago or so. In college during the summers I worked at a back office of a huge bank. We bundled up cash (mostly USD but others) and received cash from all sorts of places. Picture a laundry bag filled with bricks of hundreds. I remember hauling one of those bags and realized it would likely take me a lifetime to earn what was slung over my shoulder :-)

    Once, some branch sent us a 100,000 WWII Era German note, with a debit for ~64,000. Some customer walked into a branch with this note, and walked out with $64K. The note was worthless in all regards. Sent back to branch with a nice note explained what a German Mark is. The didn’t even have the customer’s name or anything. I imagine someone got fired.

    Also learned that money from Yankee Stadium is disgusting.

  23. Disbarred lawyer Kelly Vines said, “The average shoebox is twelve inches long, six inches wide, three and a quarter inches deep, and can hold up to three thousand US bills if they’re tightly packed. But the people I knew didn’t pack more than twenty-five hundred into one. By using hundred-dollar bills, they had a convenient, portable container that held a quarter of a million dollars and weighed only five point one pounds.”

    The late, great Ross Thomas had a practical take on it in his serio-comic thriller, “The Fourth Durango”. It was almost a denomination by itself.

  24. whereas if you have 10k that you can’t put in the bank, you probably are doing it wrong.

  25. I keep forgetting to post this:

    Where can you stash $1 million in $100 dollar bills?

    Um, my place?

  26. Money is funny. No really it is. If you take a bunch of bills that have been in circulation and stack them neatly, put them between two blocks of smooth wood, and crank on them with a couple of C-clamps, tightening the clamps over a couple of weeks, you end up with money that is crisp and flat like new bills. Gets a lot smaller that way. I had a friend who used to do this with his cash.

  27. I was a programmer for a Federal Reserve Bank back in the 1980s. Among other things, I did some maintenance work for the system that tracked the cash they distributed. One time I had to go into the vault to check out a problem the clerks were having with their terminal screen. There were lots of pallets with neat stacks of bills; literally millions of dollars were piled up in a small room. It’s funny that when you see that much money in that setting, you think of it as just a bunch of stuff you have to keep track of. The lobby area outside the vault had trophy cases filled with the guards’ marksmanship trophies in case anyone had other ideas.

  28. sort of. my wife and I drop about 12 or 15 percent into 401K and IRA accounts, so that is basically “untouchable”. then we have a “high interest” online savings account in case of emergencies, etc and a buffer in checking.. Enough to pay the bills for 3 months if we were both drop kicked from our jobs with no severance at the same time.
    So yea, I could grab 10K in ones if I wanted to take a photo, but it’s doubtful I would.. :P

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