If you’ve ever been the recipient of a crinkled dollar or corroded coins, you know that handling dirty money really makes you question where it came from and who else has touched it. Don’t think of yourself as a germaphobe though, new consumer spending research has found that most people prefer to get rid of dirty money as quickly as possible.
Professors Fabrizio Di Muro of the University of Winnipeg and Theodore Noseworthy of the University of Guelph looked into how consumer spending is affected by dirty money. They found that consumers are more likely to try to get rid of crinkled, grimy dollar bills than crisp, clean bills.
In one experiment, one set of people were given dirty $10 bills and another set of participants were given crisp, clean $10 bills. The participants with the dirty money were more likely to participate in gambling with their money even though their odds for winning or losing were the same.
When participants were given a chance to win a crisp, clean $20 bills if they gambled, they were also more likely to take the bet. Only a third of participants who were offered a dirty, ratty $20 bill took the gamble.
Even with larger denominations consumers are more likely to use dirty money, we’re more likely to spend a ratty $20 bill than four $5 bills even though consumers are usually more likely to spend lower denominations.
Our aversion towards keeping dirty money could easily be making consumers spend their money quicker as they don’t feel a dirty dollar bill is worth as much as a clean dollar bill. We’re more likely to associate crisp, fresh money as something that is new so you’re proud to have it. Maybe next time you’re trying to save money ask your banker give you cleaner and newly printed bills to prevent any mindless spending.