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What the Euro Means to You

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Twelve European countries are now accepting a new kind of money, the euro.

The euro comes in both paper money and coins. Now, instead of paying for your French lunch in francs, you can pay in euros. And you can use those same euros to pay for lunch in Rome when you travel to Italy.

That's the main benefit for people who live and travel in Europe: They don't have to keep getting different money everywhere they go.

In the United States, the dollar and coins are the official money. If you get on a plane in New York and fly to San Francisco, you can use the same dollars you brought with you to buy some lunch near the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's also good for countries like Italy, whose official money had been the lire, which was worth a lot less than the dollar. It used to be that to get one dollar, Italians had to lots and lots of lire. Now, it's just euros.

But what does all this mean to you? Well, if you and your family live in Europe or travel there, you get the benefits described above. If you live in other countries, it's a little different.

If you don't travel to Europe, then you might think the new European money has no effect on you. This is not true. A great many things you or your family buy these days come from other countries. Clothes and toys may come from Europe and Asia. Paper and pencils may come from America. Shoes may come from America or Europe. Food, especially, can come from anywhere in the world.

And the more these European countries use their new money (the euro) to pay for things, the more the euro will become recognized and accepted around the world. So the Europeans who made that sweater you or your friend is wearing were paid in euros for the work they did in making that sweater. And the company that made the latest video game you have was paid in euros by the European company that agreed to sell that video game in Europe. If you live in Europe, you will use euros to pay for that sweater or that video game.

So if you live in America or Brazil or China or Japan, you still might very well see the effects of the euro. You'll just have to look a little harder.

 Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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