Finance Your Budget Heads, tails or nothing: Australians toss $39 million in loose change each month

Heads, tails or nothing: Australians toss $39 million in loose change each month

- man flipping coin, money, saving, budget.Australians lose $466 million in loose change each year.
Australians lose $466 million in loose change each year. Photo: Getty
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Chump change left on bedside tables around the country is costing Australians almost $39 million every month, according to new research.

Almost all adults throw away five-cent coins, while one in 10 dump all their coins to avoid ferrying them around.

And it’s costing us dearly, according to a survey by ING Bank.

Australians collectively lose $38.5 million each month, or $466 million every year, the report said.

Tim Newman, Head of Product at ING Bank, said people were writing off the value of loose change.

“Those loose coins could be adding up to a tidy sum, but most of us don’t even think twice about them,” Mr Newman said in a statement.

The report found 28 per cent of people hated carrying coins, while 11 per cent tossed them to avoid having to carry them. A whopping 93 per cent of people said they threw away five-cent coins, while 29 per cent have thrown out 10-cent pieces.

About 40 per cent of people said they tossed the coins because they “can’t use five-cents”. It’s “inconvenient” to hold onto the pocket change, 29 per cent of people said, while 27 per cent said it “bulks up their wallet”.

Young people and men were the most careless, the report said.

Some 40 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds lost up to $10 in change every month. Australians aged 35 to 49 were almost as reckless, with 36 per cent losing up to $10 a month.

Comparatively, older Australians were far more thrifty.

Just 19 per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds and 15 per cent of those aged 65 or older lost the same amount every month.

Men were 7 per cent more likely to lose up to $10 a month than women, the report found.

Fabrizio Carmignani, Professor of Economics at the Griffith Business School at Griffith University, speculated why there was a difference in behaviour between genders and age brackets.

“I suspect that men are less careful than women for a matter of logistics; female wallets are bigger and go into bigger bags or purses, so it is less of a problem if they have many coins,” Professor Carmignani told The New Daily.

“For young people I think it is a matter of culture. They have grown up in an era when a coin does not buy much, while instead, people of my age used to go to the shop and buy ice creams with coins.

“This made us understand the value of coins.”

Despite happily tossing their coins, 40 per cent of people said they felt happy if they found money. Finding money made 17 per cent of adults feel pleased or smug, the report found.

The most likely place to pick up loose change was on the street, followed by in old bags or wallets, and in clothes in the washing.

Galaxy Research surveyed more than 1000 people aged 18 to 64 in August.

ING Bank enlisted the report to spruik its Everyday Round Up digital savings tool.

Professor Carmignani said there were potential downsides to turning away from cash payments in favour of payWave and digital purchases.

“We are more prone to impulsive purchase [through bank cards]. In a sense, yes we are more likely to lose control of what we spend,” he said.

“But again, there is a generational difference.”

Professor Carmignani said he believed younger generations were more likely to see bank cards as money, so the issue would be less relevant with time.

Carly Sawatzki, an education lecturer with expertise in financial literacy at Monash University, told The New Daily small change was becoming redundant.

“The sorts of transactions we used to scrounge for change for – like car parking – can now be paid for using plastic cards and mobile phone apps,” Dr Sawatzki said.

“More and more, people are transacting in ‘invisible money’. In terms of teaching children about money, this creates a need for conversations about keeping track of money electronically.”

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