9 Bizarre Money Superstitions People Actually Believe

By Emily Guy Birken on 16 May 2017 0 comments

When I was about eight years old, my grandmother gave me a purse. Inside the purse was a dollar bill, which I tried to give back to her. I thought she had left it in there by mistake.

"No, no. That must stay in there," she told me. "You can't give a purse with no money in it, or else it will never have money in it. Money attracts money!"

That was my first introduction to the odd world of money superstitions. Grandma's belief that purses and wallets should always have at least a little money in them, especially if they are given as gifts, had been passed down to her from her Russian grandmother — although it is a superstition that can be found in many countries around the world. I have since met many people who follow this custom, including a small retail business owner who would place a penny in every wallet and purse she sold.

Money superstitions can run the gamut from the slightly lucrative to the silly to the downright bizarre, but they are always fun to hear. Here are nine common money superstitions that people take pretty seriously. (See also: Why Superstition Makes You Buy Insurance)

1. Itchy palms mean you are about to gain or lose money

According to the Palmistry and Hand Analysis website, an itchy right palm is a good thing, because it means you are about to receive money. Don't scratch that itch, or it will stop the money from coming into your life.

An itchy left palm, on the other hand (ha!), means you are about to lose money. To relieve the itch and protect your assets, you can rub your left palm on a piece of wood. This superstition is said to have originated from the Saxons — German tribes who settled in Great Britain during the Middle Ages. They believed you could cure diseased skin by rubbing silver on it.

2. Do not place your purse on the floor

This superstition is considered to be bad feng shui, because your purse is seen as a symbol for your wealth. Putting it on the floor is therefore a sign of great disrespect and disregard for your money.

Whether you believe that or not, there's a practical side to this credo. Placing your purse on the floor makes it easier for someone to snatch it or steal something from it.

3. If you have hairy arms, you're going to be rich

I first read this superstition in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when Jim tells Huck that hairy arms and a hairy chest are indicators of future wealth. But real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran also writes about this superstition in her book If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons On Your Pigtails. Her grandmother comforted her with this superstition when Corcoran was a teenage girl. Years later, she was delighted when the supposed link between her hirsute arms and her future as a wealthy woman came true.

4. Bird droppings bring great wealth

My father was completely bald for most of my life, and for some reason his shiny head seemed to be a magnet for bird droppings. As unpleasant as it was for him to have to clean digested bird seed off his head, someone would always be sure to tell him that getting pooped on by a bird was good luck.

In fact, getting graced by bird droppings is supposedly a sign that wealth is coming your way. In Dad's case, it certainly worked. He was a wealthy man when he passed away, which almost makes up for having birds play target practice with his head.

5. Place coins on a deceased loved one before laying them to rest

The more modern version of this superstition is to lay coins on the eyes of a deceased person before burial. There are two reasons for doing this. One has to do with the belief in many cultures that open eyes suggest that the deceased is fearful of the future because of misdeeds in life. The eyes are therefore forced shut quickly after death, and coins are placed on them before rigor mortis sets in.

Another reason comes from Greek mythology. In that case, the coins were intended to provide the dead soul with the money necessary to pay Charon, the boatman on the river Styx, for passage into the underworld.

Before placing coins on eyelids, however, many older societies would place a coin for Charon in a dead person's mouth.

6. A spider in your pocket will keep it full of cash

Spiders may be the leading cause of screaming and running away, but apparently some types of spiders can provide you with great wealth if you can force yourself to catch and pocket one. According to superstitions from Great Britain, Australia, Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago, when a money spider (one from the family of spiders called Linyphiidae) runs over clothes you're wearing, or if you catch such a spider and put it in your pocket, that pocket will never again be empty of money. Depending on how you feel about spiders, that may or may not seem like a good trade-off.

7. Say the word "money" when you see a shooting star

There are several different versions of this superstition, but they all say that you should utter the word "money" upon seeing a shooting star. Just as making a wish on a shooting star is said to grant that particular wish, saying the word "money" is said to bring you wealth. According to some versions, just saying the word once will be enough to bring more wealth into your life. Other versions claim you need to say "money" three times, or say "money" as many times as you can before the star fades away — because the more times you say it, the more money will flow into your life.

8. Only pick up pennies that are heads up

My friends and I grew up saying, "See a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck." We learned this adage from the movie Grease, but it is apparently an old saying from England.

However, there are apparently more rules about picking up pennies than the one I grew up with. Pennies that are lying heads up are good luck, but pennies that are tails up will lead to bad luck and should be left undisturbed.

9. Don't whistle in your home

According to a Russian superstition, whistling while under a roof will cause you to whistle your money away. This is probably related to the Russian view that you should be pessimistic about future financial success, or else you will face bad luck for your hubris. Money is not a "carefree" issue to people who hold these superstitions, and whistling is one of the most happy-go-lucky activities you could engage in.

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