The U.S. monetary system follows the decimal system. The basic unit is the dollar “$”. The most widely used bills are in denominations of $1, $5, $10 and $20. Occasionally, a bill of $2, $50 or $100 may be seen. Each dollar is divided into 100 cents. Currency in the form of a coin is: 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), and 25 cents (quarter).

Value of a Dollar - Below is a list of average prices:

Coffee $2.50

Espresso based $3.50

Hamburger $7-$13

Lunch at a restaurant $8-$20

Movie Theater $10-$13

Domestic Stamp $.50

International Stamp starts $1.15


Most states in the U.S. charge a sales tax on tangible personal property and services, such as clothing, restaurant and fast food meals, services, newspapers, books, toiletries, etc. The sales tax varies; in the state of Wisconsin it is 5-6%. Sales taxes are added at the register, so be prepared for your bill to be more than the price tag on an item. In Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, an additional 1.25% premier resort tax may be added.


Also known as gratuity, tipping is giving a small amount of money to another person for a service. Tips are expected in many situations in the U.S.

These are the most often tipped services and a percentage guideline for tips:

Waiter/waitress....................... 18% of food bill

Barbers/hairdressers....................... 18% of bill

Taxi drivers......................... 10% - 15% of fare

Food delivery persons............... No less than $3

You should never tip police officers, physicians, government employees or university employees. It may be interpreted as a bribe, which is illegal. You do not tip bus drivers, theater ushers, museum guides, salespeople, employees at fast food restaurants or hotel clerks.