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Survey: How Much Money Would You Pick Up?

A MyBankTracker survey looked at how much it would take for someone to pick up free money off the ground.

Free money is tough to ignore. But, what if it was just lying there on the ground? Some people would pick it up and some won’t -- the amount of money matters.

According to a recent survey by MyBankTracker, nearly half (46.2 percent) of Americans would pick up at least a penny. Interestingly, the next denomination they’d pick up (12.6 percent) is a quarter.

Here are the full highlights of the survey:

Highlights

  • If they were going to pick money up off the ground, most Americans would pick up as little as one penny from the ground (46.2%), followed by a quarter (12.6%)
  • A significant percentage (18.2%) would not pick up any money off the ground
  • Americans are more likely to pick up a penny as they get older
  • The 25-34 age group is least likely to pick up any money off the ground

How Much Money Would You Pick Up?

Denomination Total Male Female
Penny 46.20% 43.10% 49.10%
Nickel 7.30% 9.90% 4.90%
Dime 3.70% 5.20% 2.40%
Quarter 12.60% 11.30% 13.80%
Dollar 7.60% 6.80% 8.40%
More than a dollar 4.30% 4.70% 3.90%
I would not pick up money off the ground 18.20% 18.90% 17.60%

Based on age group

Denomination 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Penny 9.00% 12.50% 13.40% 17.30% 19.80% 28.00%
Nickel 10.50% 9.40% 22.50% 19.30% 13.80% 24.50%
Dime 21.70% 13.40% 17.10% 9.40% 13.60% 24.80%
Quarter 8.30% 24.60% 19.50% 16.50% 13.80% 17.30%
Dollar 20.10% 34.70% 12.90% 10.10% 10.00% 12.10%
More than a dollar 16.20% 31.40% 24.60% 9.90% 12.00% 5.80%
I would not pick up money off the ground 14.80% 20.80% 19.70% 14.50% 13.10% 17.10%

Why Wouldn’t Someone Pick Up Free Money?

About 1 in 5 respondents said they wouldn’t pick up free money off the ground. And, there could be many reasons for that.

Embarrassment

It’s understandable that some may be reluctant to pick up money, especially in public, because it may be considered embarrassing or shameful. Others may also feel bad that the money belonged to someone else and it may feel like stealing.

Cleanliness

The pandemic has led to an increased aversion to public surfaces and environments that may be susceptible to contamination. So, people may be less likely to touch anything of unknown origin -- even free money.

Not worth the effort

There’s no doubt that some people place great value on their time. It’s possible that they earn so much that it’s not worth the effort -- as little as it might require -- to pick up free money off the ground.

Methodology

The study was conducted through Google Surveys on behalf of MyBankTracker from March 31, 2021 to April 12, 2021 with 2,071 respondents in the United States of ages 18 and up with a standard deviation of 5.4%.