Superstitions about money

Lucky Horseshoe
By Alex Burden, Senior Digital Editor

13 May 2016

Friday the 13th has been known for centuries as a day of bad luck, potential hazards and general ill will.

Some buildings have even been known to miss out the thirteenth floor or room to guard against any potential superstition results. We investigate superstitions around money and how they relate to different cultures.

Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck’: UK residents will know this adage well. Superstition tells us that it’s good luck to pick up a penny with the ‘head’ side facing upwards. Just leave it alone if this faces downwards; there’s a belief that ‘tails’ will bring you bad luck (every positive must have an opposite negative!).

Chinese culture features a saying that putting your purse or handbag on the floor ‘is money out the door’, and reason that keeping your money close to you will help your wealth. There is also a strong belief in the significance of the number 8: it represents prosperity (it also represents infinity when turned on its’ side!).

Old European cultures were so grateful for clean water than when they discovered new springs or fountains, they would thank the gods by placing money in the water. In return, it was believed the gods would grant a wish or bring good luck. Did you know there was a Celtic goddess of wells and springs, Coventina? We’ve been chucking money into wells and setting up statue shrines at fresh water supplies for many centuries now!

Spiders! The Linyphiidae species is known as the money spider, and having one crawl all over you in fantastic luck, as it’s weaving you money. For those of you who find this incredibly squeamish, European lore suggests that seeing spiders weave in the evening will bring you financial stability. Please note, in Australia it’s not always a good idea to let a spider crawl all over you or hide in your pocket!

Got itchy palms? Might be a dermatological issue or a message from the universe to tell you that you’ll be getting money. Just the right hand though; your left hand will be itchy at the tills as it warns you of imminent money loss.

Ever noticed a jade ring on someone’s little finger? It’s believed to bring good luck as well as wealth. It’s also an incredibly expensive gem, so it’s likely that the owner already has some money to buy it in the first place!

How does your money become an amulet to ward off bad luck, illness or death? It was thought that holy communion coins could be rubbed on the body to restore health - even the Romans believed in the power of coins for sick people: Emperor Vespasian used to distribute them to help cure ailments. It was believed the powers of important people could be transferred to coins and their recipient.

We also seem to be obsessed with putting money in objects for good luck, including sixpence in bridal shoes for wealth, or inside Christmas puddings and New Year’s day bread for similar reasons.

There are many more superstitions concerning money and wealth out there, from all over the world. Know of any? Share them with us at and we’ll add them to our feature!


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