The US now has $18 trillion in debt. Just how much is 18 trillion?


The United States national debt has reached 18 trillion dollars. Just how large is this number?

It can be difficult to visualize such a huge number without putting it into perspective. Here are five examples to help you do so.

1. 18 trillion seconds is equal to 5 billion hours, or 570,398 years.

To put that even more into perspective, let’s say you received one dollar every second of your life (this is only a hypothetical scenario, of course – as much as you may wish it could be true!). Based on the average life expectancy in the United States, it would take you about 6,675 lifetimes to accumulate 18 trillion dollars.

2. It would take over 180,000 18-wheeler trucks to haul $18 trillion in cash.


3. $18 trillion in stacked $1 bills would be more than 1 million miles high.

Earth and moon to scale.” by Bluedharma via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

That’s enough to stretch from Earth to the moon five times and still have money left over.

4. If you were to give $50,000 to the government every year, it would take 576 million years to give $18 trillion total.

Stock Photos

5. This is what $16.394 trillion (the U.S. debt ceiling in 2013) would look like in stacked $100 bills.

US Debt Ceiling 2012 visualized
Courtesy of

…and remember that we’re now at $18 trillion. For more visualizations of what our national debt looks like in stacks of cash, check out this infographic from

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