There are few things more satisfying than a crisp $20 bill. Well, maybe a crisp $100 bill.
But twenty big ones can get you pretty far nonetheless.
Whether it's tucked firmly in a birthday card, passing from hand to hand after a knee-jerk sports bet, or going toward a useful tool, the old twenty dollar bill has been used for countless purposes.
A recent Reddit thread asked folks to share their best uses of that timeless institution.
theotherhalfof2 asked, "What's the best $20 you ever spent?"
For many, it was all about the clothes.
With secondhand stores dotting every town and city there is, true gems lurk on racks just under our noses. And with a $20, those new threads are yours to keep forever.
"I got a jacket and a pair of jeans at goodwill for about $20. My first time wearing the jacket I found a tiny zipper inside a pocket."
"There was a secret inner pocket with a twenty in it."
"A pair of blue-light canceling reading glasses."
"I have to stare at a lot of different screens throughout the day for my job. It's been so nice to not fall asleep with a headache every night, although it may be a placebo."
Keeps On Giving
"23 Years ago I was in the US for some work and was not prepared for the cold of Chicago. Went to wal-mart and bought myself a cheap, warm jacket."
"I'm wearing that jacket right now - still looks fine, still keeps me warm."
As Good As They Come
"Wool pinstripe double breasted suit from Goodwill, fit perfectly and was brand new. Ended up wearing it to get married the next year." -- verminiusrex
"God I love Goodwill!!" -- Neverthelilacqueen
For others, the $20 bill facilitated a true act of kindness. They were glad to put their money towards such a worthy cause, celebrating human connection in the process.
The Socks She Needed
"I work at a thrift shop. A homeless lady came in and asked us where the socks were. We only sell new socks, so I directed her towards the new socks and she was... shocked and disappointed by the price tag, surely."
"I gave her a moment as she looked, and she moved to some kids' socks and picked them up, and I... just couldn't let that happen. I told her that I would help her, and told her to get herself some socks and a jacket."
"She kind of just... held out the children's socks, so I took them, put them back, and grabbed the extra fluffy socks that were hanging."
"She grabs a jacket and some pants, and I pay for it. My coworker looks the other way since we're not supposed to purchase anything while on the clock. The lady is in tears as she walks out."
"I notice that she's still outside a minute later putting them on, and ask her if they fit her or if she needed something else; and she told me they were perfect and proceeded to cry. I cried in return."
"It was a good day."
"A guy came into my work when I managed a mom and pop Pizza Place. He said he was stranded with no phone, and no money, but that the people at the Verizon store next door to us said they could get him a cheap phone with some minutes on it for 20 bucks."
"He offered to do dishes for a few hours to make some money so he could get this phone. I told him not to worry about it and gave him a 20 from my wallet. He thanked me, asked me for my name, and then he left and I never saw him again."
"Skip forward about 5 months, and when I get into work the owner was there and said she had gotten a letter addressed to me. 'Weird,' I thought."
"But when I opened it there was a 50 dollar bill and a short note from the guy I gave 20 dollars to thanking me for my kindness and for not turning him away."
"Turns out he was in a bad way (addicted to hard drugs and homeless) and really was stranded there. He was trying to get a phone so he could contact his parents (who lived in another state) for help."
"From what it sounded like, he seemed to really turn his life around. He was clean and working a stable job while still living with his parents."
"I paid for a truck drivers meal at a truck stop. His credit card wouldn't work and he looked really distraught about what to do."
"He wasn't trying to rip off anyone but he didn't have any cash. I quietly told the cashier I'd pay for it and did without him ever knowing who it was. It just felt good to do it."
The Best Finale
"It was the day before payday. My wife came to see me at work. My break was in an hour, so I asked for her to wait a bit, so we could enjoy it together. She did."
"I bought her some lunch, because it was what I could afford. I bought her a ham and cheese sub sandwich and two iced teas. These were her favorite. I bought gas with the rest of the twenty so she could get home. She dropped me back off at work."
"That night, she passed away. It brings me comfort to know that I bought her favorite sandwich and drink for her that afternoon. It was likely the last thing she ate, since it was near dinner. I'll never forget it. Best $20 I ever spent, because it was for her."
A handful of people recalled a memory that was made possible by $20. There's no two ways about it: money motivates people and makes things happen.
Leaning Into the Nerdery
"It was my ninth or tenth birthday. My grandparents gave me $20. The first $20 bill I ever held in my hand! I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it."
"A week later, we went into the city and Toys R Us. I went straight to the Transformers aisle. And there he was. My favourite Transformer. The one I always wanted...Soundwave."
"He's the one who turned into a Walkman and he could eject cassettes that turned into robot animals. The price tag said $19.99. It was meant to be."
"I took Soundwave to the clerk and gave her my $20 bill. "And here's your change!" she said, as she gave me a single penny."
"Ah, Soundwave. The best friend a lonely little nerd could have."
"I went to a Rush concert in 1982. The ticket was $9.50 and the t-shirt was $10." -- PaulsRedditUsername
"My then six year old niece had a loose tooth she loved to show off and had resisted pulling out for two weeks. We were all at my parents and I was getting ready to leave, I pulled out a $20 and said 'I'll give you this right now if you pull out your tooth.' "
"She was already crying because her little sister had did something so when she ran into the bathroom none of us had no idea in what she was about to do."
"So she comes out crying still, but a little bit of blood I'm her mouth because of course, she pulled out her tooth. But the now removed tooth fell down the drain to the sink and she was crying because she lost her proof!"
"After she calmed down she was happy as a clam with a brand new $20 and everyone was quite proud of her. My sister told me she spent it on candy and shared with her little sister."
For the Story
"It was actually to a scammer in Rome. There was this guy right outside of Colosseum who started tying strings around my wrist and told me to make a wish. I knew it was going to cost but I thought what the hell, last day in Rome so might as well go with it.
"My wish was to find love."
"I spent rest of the day getting lost in the city and stumbled across two weddings and one baptism ceremony. So I did find love, just not for myself."
"Paid about $20 in airline fees to cash in my air miles for a ticket across the country. Was recently laid off and had time on my hands so flew across the country to meet a girl I had been talking to that I had met in a chat room online."
"Stayed 2 weeks with a family friend getting to know her. Later that year she came and visited me then moved in with me. 18 years later we are married with 3 wonderful kids."
Stayed Just Long Enough
"$10 on a coffee and cake meeting at 6pm, since I had coffee that late I decided to go to a gig nearby $5 door fee and $5 for the beer that kept me there (it was rather boring)."
"Up rocks a casual friend I hadn't seen in a while, something about that night had us seeing the other in a different way. That was 9 years, 3 cats, several aquariums ago."
"We're planning on getting married next year."
Years of Thought and Entertainment
"Many years ago, I was walking up Madison Avenue, in Manhattan. I think I was heading to the bus stop at Madison and 96th Street. On the way there, I popped into this small bookshop that's on 92nd or 93rd Street, or thereabouts. I don't know if it's still there, especially with this pandemic."
"I went in on a whim, just to browse, because books, to me, are like catnip to a cat."
"I wasn't planning on buying anything but I picked up "Collected Fictions" by Jorge Luis Borges. I started flipping through it and I was so enthralled that I just had to buy it on the spot. It was about $20 and I usually don't splurge in an instant like that"
"also, $20 was a lot more money back when this took place — but it was worth every penny. This book is an anthology of Borges' work and it's just terrific. To this day, I'll pick it up every once in a while and read my favorite stories from there."
So next time you have a single $20 left in your wallet, maybe take a moment to think about using that thing intentionally. You never know what memorable moment might come of it.