Feature

Why we spend dirty money

Researchers have found that people spend worn bills faster than new ones.

Want to limit your spending fast? Ask the bank for crisp, new bills, said Martha C. White in Time.com. According to a new study, “people are driven to spend old or grimy bills more readily than newly minted ones.” Researchers have found that people tend to spend worn bills faster because they consider them contaminated. In one experiment, more than two thirds of subjects who had a ratty-looking $10 bill were willing to gamble it for a clean $20, whereas less than a third of those who had a crisp $10 and were offered a chance at a beat-up $20 chose to take the risk. “People actively seek to divest worn currency,” the authors said. They “value a crisp banknote more than a worn banknote because they believe the latter is disgusting and thus want to be rid of it.” The study “gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘money laundering.’”

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