# Putting Trillions of Dollars in Perspective

Remember when a billion dollars used to be a lot? Now we talk trillions.

Stack of U.S. hundred-dollar bills

That's a thousand times more.

The numbers bandied about in Washington these days â€” yearly deficits in the \$1 trillion range, a \$3.8 trillion federal budget, a national debt piled up to \$15 trillion â€” are so big they're hard to grasp.

Here's one way to think of it: a trillion is a million millions.

If you paid out \$1 per second, to settle a \$1 million debt would take less than 12 days. To pay off \$1 billion would take 32 years. Paying off \$1 trillion at a dollar per second? Nearly 32,000 years.

A trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeros, like this: 1,000,000,000,000.

A trillion square miles would cover the surface of 5,000 planet Earths.

A trillion people would be 10 times more than have ever lived (based on the Population Reference Bureau's very rough estimate of 108 billion humans ever).

A trillion dollars is enough to give \$3,195 to every man, woman and child in the United States.

But for a typical U.S. household, making \$50,000 per year, to earn enough to pay off a \$1 trillion debt would take 20 million years.