Today is Friday the 13th, a notoriously unlucky date that occurs at least once and up to three times a year in the Gregorian calendar. According to the International Business Times, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States suffer from a fear of Friday the 13th, also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia.
While the fear of Friday the 13th has been documented as early as the 19th century, fear of the number 13 dates back to B.C. times and ancient Norse mythology.
There are no end of superstitions; some people are afraid of broken mirrors, black cats and walking under ladders every day of the year, but these are often magnified on Friday the 13th.
The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that $700 million to $800 million is lost every Friday the 13th because of people’s aversion to traveling, making big purchases or running their businesses.
Here are five money superstitions that could affect your savings account — if you believe in them — year round, and especially on Friday the 13th.
5 Money-Related Superstitions
1. Finding a Penny and Throwing It Away
We’ve all seen that person — or been that person — who bends over to pick up a dirty penny from the sidewalk, train floor or grocery store aisle. The notion of picking up a penny comes from an old rhyme: “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” It’s believed that picking up that penny or dollar will bring more money into your life soon.
Those who are extra superstitious might take it a little further, choosing to grab the penny only if it is heads-up, as some believe that a tails-up penny would bring bad luck. Others believe finders should either save the penny, donate it to the poor or offer it to God, as it’s not theirs to spend.
It’s also a long-standing custom to throw a coin, often a penny, into a fountain to make a wish come true. This practice stems from long-held beliefs that water is sacred and that, in certain cultures, spirits live within wells. The gesture of throwing a penny in a fountain is a way to thank the spirits for granting wishes or giving blessings.
According to ThinkMoney, it’s estimated that a few thousand Euros are thrown into the Trevi Fountain in Rome every day by visitors.
2. Giving a Wallet, Purse and Shoes With Money
It’s a common belief that money attracts money. In many cultures, especially Greece, it’s customary to keep a few coins in your pocket so as to not be penniless.
When giving items used to store money as gifts, such as wallets and purses, it’s considered a good practice to also place a few coins in the item to guarantee that the recipient will never be without. It’s also believed to be wise for the recipient to never leave the item without change, for the same reason: Money attracts money, and an empty wallet could portend an empty bank account.
When it comes to receiving shoes as a gift, it’s customary in some cultures to give back a coin in return — otherwise the gift giver is “stepping on” the recipient. There is also the belief that, if you give someone shoes or slippers, the recipient will walk away from you or even out of your life forever.
3. The Bride and the Penny
Speaking of shoes, there is a superstition that a bride should place a penny in one of her shoes on her wedding day. (Bonus tip: Very few couples get married Friday the 13th — save money on your wedding by booking the “unlucky” date, if you’re not superstitious.)
This notion is also where the famous tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” comes from — the same rhyme mentions that a bride should have a “silver sixpence in her shoe.” The coin, which is supposed to bring wealth into the marriage, also harkens back to the custom of the father of the bride gifting her a shiny coin on her wedding day.
4. Burying a Statue of St. Joseph
If you’re trying to sell your home, burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down in the front yard could help expedite the process, according to an old Italian custom.
St. Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. Due to his job as a carpenter, St. Joseph is also known as the patron saint of workers. This custom is popular enough in the United States that Amazon features a $9 St. Joseph kit for home sellers that includes a statue.
5. A Purse on the Floor Is Money Out the Door
There is a superstition that leaving your purse on the floor will cause you to lose money or stay broke. What it could suggest is that the owner has doubts about her money management skills.
The superstition could be less about money falling out of a purse than the owner’s ability to manage the contents within it. For those who subscribe to this belief, establishing the habit of placing a purse on a desk or counter could boost financial confidence.
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski