3 Superstitions that May be Influencing Your Finances

Ever change directions to avoid a black cat or knock three times on wood? You’re not alone if you buy into superstitions, especially around Halloween.

One reason we look to superstitions is the desire to control our financial destiny, says C. Daniel Crosby, Ph.D., a corporate psychologist that works closely with financial advisors to help their clients avoid superstitious behavior and become more knowledgeable about the science of risk assessment.

Superstitions can also be a fun way to feel grounded, and can even make you feel a little invincible, he adds.

But while you’re steering clear of walking under ladders and exercising caution when carrying mirrors, why not rely on superstitions that can be of good use in your financial life?

“Don’t put your purse on the floor or you’ll stay broke.”

Do you think dropping your handbag on the floor is bad luck? You could be doubting your ability to manage money, says Los Angeles-based psychologist Nancy Irwin, Psy.D.

This superstition is more about doubting your ability to manage what is in your purse than money falling out of your purse, she says.

“Leaving your purse on the floor suggests you’re wasteful, losing or overspending in some capacity,” says Irwin.

Instead of worrying about where you put your purse, focus on what you do with its contents and how those actions influence your credit score. While a purse on the floor may not necessarily mean money out the door, a low credit score certainly does. If you’re constantly swiping your credit cards, you’re increasing your debt-to-limit ratio, also called your credit utilization.

“Your credit utilization ratio is determined by the amount of credit you’ve used compared to the amount of credit you have available,” says Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert and consumer advocate. “You can maximize your credit score by maintaining a low utilization ratio of no higher than 30 percent.”

“Think about how often you whip out your credit card for a splurge because those excess interest charges are the real way to lose money,” adds Irwin.

“Bubbles floating on top of your morning coffee signify money is on the way to you.”

Who would think that your morning cup of joe can predict your financial future? Of course, it can’t, but for decades people have thought that the tiny bubbles in their coffee may mean that money is on the way.

And, if you catch the bubbles with your spoon without breaking them, you’ll catch the money. If you can’t, that money will slip through your fingers.

Many superstitions thrive on society’s desire to predict the future, suggests Crosby. It can be comforting to think that a superstition will help you predict how much money you’ll have down the road.

Tomorrow morning, try swapping counting bubbles in your coffee for counting how much you’ve saved in your retirement fund or the points you could tack onto your credit score by reducing your debt. That’s a more solid means to predict your financial long- and short-term future.

“Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”

Would you walk past a penny lying in the street that’s not heads-up and risk jinxing yourself with loads of tails-up bad luck?

The roots of this superstition have been traced back to our 17th President, good old Honest Abe. “A penny that’s face down represents Abraham’s Lincoln ill-fated night at the theater,” says Irwin. “So you think you’ll somehow suffer similar ‘bad luck’ if you handle a penny the wrong way.”

“Superstitions that can result in loss—even in a loss of luck—are fueled by fear,” explains Crosby.

Don’t worry about encountering bad luck if you pick up a penny—no matter which end is up. Instead, let the penny be a reminder of the steps you can take to control your debt and improve your credit score. “And then pick up the penny. It’s silly to walk past free money,” says Crosby.

Tuck that penny in your wallet or purse for a constant reminder that no matter how superstitious you are, you—and not luck, fear or tiny bubbles—are the one in control of your financial destiny.