Superstition and Money: The Way We Think About Money

by Thursday Bram · 9 comments


There are superstitions about every aspect of money, from getting it to saving it. There are even conflicting superstitions, depending on the culture you grew up in: In Argentina, finding money in the street is considered extremely lucky. As long as you never spend it, it will bring you more money. But in Trinidad and Tobago, finding money in the street could bring evil spirits into your home.

While we each feel differently about superstitions — from ardent believers to scoffing disbelievers — they do show us how, deep down, we tend to think about money.

Money Attracts Money

In Greece, there is a superstition that if you ever completely empty your pockets, purse, wallet or bank account, you won’t be able to find money in the future. Money attracts money, so you need to keep a coin or two in your pocket at all times. There’s a similar superstition that if you keep a penny wrapped in paper, in your pocket, money will continue to flow in your direction. Whether or not you keep some jingle in your pockets, though, the idea that you have to have money to attract more money is common.

If you break down the superstition, there are some very common perceptions underneath. Most of us have a sense that we have to have some money — or at least act like we do — in order to get more. It’s why we wear fancy suits for job interviews and why we focus on earning money that we can then invest. There is some truth in the matter, too. It’s always easier to get more money if you already have some, whether through investment or through other opportunities.

A penny in your pocket may not be enough to change your fortunes, but it can be the start that gets you pointed in the right direction. At the very least, keeping at least a little money on you at all times makes it that much easier to avoid using credit (which is almost always more expensive than using cash).

Giving Monetary Gifts

Giving a gift that helps the recipient make or save money can be useful, but there are superstitions about the act of giving such gifts. Giving an empty wallet can give the recipient bad luck, making it harder for them to find money in the future. Adding a dollar or two to that new wallet can make all the difference in the world, at least in terms of the superstition.

It’s interesting to think about this in terms of the type of people we are most likely to give gifts like wallets to. It can vary by your own preferences, family and other variables, but a wallet and similar items are not uncommon gifts for graduations or people making other big changes in their lives. I can’t think of a single recent graduate who couldn’t use a few extra dollars to get them started.

But the act of including money in a gift says other things, as well. It gives the recipient a chance to start attracting money of their own right away. There’s symbolism, as well: if a wallet is meant for holding money, it should have money in it from the first time you see it. It’s a generous gesture and generosity can be associated with creating wealth as well.

The Symbolism of Money

Many superstitions focus on symbols of wealth. In Japan, snakes are a symbol of wealth, which has lead, in turn, to a belief that if you place a piece of snake skin in your wallet, you will become rich. Killing snakes is considered extremely bad luck, however, which means you’ll have to get your snake skin some other way. There are superstitions like this in almost every culture, associating money with different animals or other symbols.

It’s an interesting set of beliefs, if only because money itself is a symbol — it’s really just a piece of paper that everyone has agreed to use in place of barter. Using other symbols to improve upon a stack of dollar bills may not be particularly effective, although there is a certain sense that trying out a superstition can’t hurt and might help. Taking such steps does mean that we’re thinking about money in general, which in turn can be beneficial. If we’re looking for opportunities, because we’ve taken some symbolic steps to improve our financial situations, we may have an easier time of spotting them than if they just come up in the normal course of things.

Taking Action

The number of steps you can take to improve your chances of bringing money to yourself are incredible. The practices of feng shui say that the back left corner of a room or building (when you’re standing at the front door) is a financial power spot. If you clear out clutter, fix anything broken and enhance your money areas with the colors purple and green, you will be able to attract wealth. The philosophy behind feng shui also suggests giving generously of your energy and it includes money as a type of generosity. These sorts of rituals play into the ways we think about money on multiple levels. They involve symbolism, generosity and the ability to attract money in different ways.

The actions you take towards improving your financial situation, whether or not they’re based on superstitions, are worthwhile. Simply taking action is often an important step in the right direction. It may seem purely symbolic, but thinking about money in any context helps us to recognize other steps we can take and opportunities that are coming our way. It doesn’t hurt that these beliefs can help put our financial considerations in a context that offers a better grip on things than just staring at a stack of bills might offer.

So now let me turn it over to you. Are you superstitious with money, and do you think it is helping you?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Moneymonk September 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

I remember a wealthy guy once said that only poor people are superstitious. after that I just stop believing in superstition

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MoneyNing September 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I’d have to say that the wealthy person is just ill-informed. Many athletes who go on to become wealthy are superstitious, as are many business owners in countries outside of the United States.

All I know about superstitions are that if someone believes that they are luckier because of it, they feel more confident of the better outcome happening and that in turns leads them to create the environment that fosters a better chance of the desired outcome.

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Nick D. September 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I’m superstitious about a few things but I try not to be superstitious about money. Simply hoping that money will flow my way doesn’t do me a lot of good, I’d rather get out a work for it.

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KM September 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I am not superstitious about anything, especially not about money. I am a scientific person, so I really don’t see a connection between a statuette of a fat Buddha in a certain corner and inflow of wealth or a flower in another corner and success in romantic relationships. I am a firm believer that although luck helps some people some time, most of the time you have to do work to obtain a result. That’s why I don’t even like free money or living off of someone. I need to earn my money so I can spend it or invest it with pride.

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UH2L September 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

We have a superstition in India that says you should never give somebody a money present in a rounded off amount. So instead of giving $50, one would give $51. Other than the fact that the recipient gets a slight bit more money which can eventually add up, I don’t know any other basis or the rationale for it.

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Aida September 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I am superstitious about money. In particularly, when I find money, I think it is good luck. Even if its a penny, hey a penny IS money after all. I have been taught to always be appreciative of any money that comes my way. When you learn to appreciate what money you DO have, more money will flow your way.

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April Ward September 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

I would say I’m not superstitious, but I do eat collard greens on New Year’s and I always put money into a piggy bank before giving the bank as a gift.

April

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Jonny Gibaud September 27, 2010 at 5:27 am

I find it amazing how few people have been taught or even realise that money is simply a paper IOU.

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dhanraj October 3, 2010 at 3:03 am

I am superstitious about money. In particularly, when I find money, I think it is good luck. Even if its a penny, hey a penny IS money after all. I have been taught to always be appreciative of any money that comes my way. When you learn to appreciate what money you DO have, more money will flow your way.

Reply

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