Spare change

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Where do our coppers go?

How much money could we save by going cashless?

Charlie Barton
by , Banking and Investments Publisher

It’s a hot summer’s day and you’ve finally got your hands on a McFlurry, only to be given one penny in change. What do you do with it? Slot it inside your pocket for safekeeping, of course. But later that week, your unused coppers start to weigh you down. It almost feels like you’d be better off without them. If only you had used an app that invests your spare change for you…

Overview

A shocking one in seven (14%), or 7.2 million Brits, are ditching their spare change by throwing it in the bin and disposing of an average 51p each month. This, in addition to the number of people who lose their coppers, amounts to an enormous £100 million worth of coppers that goes missing each month. One in five Brits (22%) say they lose on average of 41p every month, totalling £56 million over the year, while the amount thrown away is £44 million.
However, we aren’t always so careless with our coppers. Brits also utilise their spare coins more sensibly, including saving, donating and spending them. We are actually most likely to stash away our coppers into our piggy banks (54%) or give them to charities (51%). On average, Brits donate 69p in coppers to charities each month, which translates to £220 million worth of donations per year.
Many of us simply treat coppers like any other coins and put them to good use paying for goods and services. Almost half of us (47%) do this by giving them directly to the cashier, while two in five Brits (38%) spend them at self-service machines.
Coppers are also popular for tips, with a third (33%) of us tipping at restaurants and cafes with them, while one in seven (15%) spend their 1p and 2p coins in arcade machines.

Where do our coppers go?

Where coppers go Percentage
Charity tins 51%
Tip jars 33%
Bin 14%
Piggy bank 54%
Lost 22%
Arcade machines 15%
Paying for goods 47%
Paying through self service 38%

Gender comparison

According to our research, men are more careless with their coppers than women. 25% of men say that they regularly lose them compared to only 18% of women. Additionally, 16% of men throw them away compared to only 11% of women.
Conversely, women are more likely to use their coppers in a productive way. 54% of women donate their spare change compared to 47% of men, while 40% of women pay for goods at self-service machines with coppers compared to 36% of men.

What do men and women do with their coppers?

Where the coppers go Men
Charity 47%
Tips 32%
Bin 16%
Piggy bank 54%
Lost 25%
Arcade machines 17%
Paying (machine) 36%
Paying (cashier) 46%

Regional differences

Londoners are most likely to throw their change in the bin with a fifth (20%) saying they do so. Residents from the North East are most likely to have a large stash of coppers in their piggy banks with 64% saying they save their coppers in this way. Those from the North West are the most careless with their coins, with 27% saying they lose their change.
Method Highest Lowest
Charity tins North East, 56% East Anglia, 41%
Tips London, 43% South West, 23%
Bin London, 20% East Anglia, 8%
Piggy bank North East, 64% South West, 46%
Lost North West, 27% East Midlands, 13%
Arcade machines London, 20% East Midlands, 10%
Paying (cashier) North East, 55% East Midlands, 43%
Paying (self-service) North East, 44% East Midlands, 24%

Generational differences

We found that older generations seem to value to their coppers more than the younger generations. Generation Z (those born after 1996) are the most likely to lose their coppers (46%) or bin them (24%). These percentages decrease progressively with age: only 4% of the silent generation (born 1928-1945) admit to throwing away or losing their 1p and 2p coins.

What do different generations do with their coppers?

Generation Charity Tips Bin Piggy bank Lost Arcade machines Paying for goods
Silent 63% 39% 4% 42% 4% 1% 38%
Boomers 48% 30% 6% 47% 12% 6% 40%
Gen X 53% 32% 16% 56% 23% 16% 44%
Millennials 49% 37% 21% 59% 31% 24% 45%
Gen Z 55% 43% 24% 62% 46% 26% 50%

    “Coppers are generally playing a less significant role in our lives than they used to, but our research shows that there is still value in looking after them when they end up in your wallet. It may not seem like much on an individual level, but £100 million is a huge amount that Brits could save, spend or give to charity each year.
If you’re annoyed by change, maybe it’s time to go digital and convert to contactless payments. What’s even better is that some digital banking cards like Monzo and Revolut even offer a “round up your change” feature that helps you automatically squirrel money away to a savings fund.

Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that while they may not mean much in isolation, coppers can be valuable to charities. If you don’t know what to do with them, donating them is always preferable to throwing them in the bin. Some personal finance apps like Revolut will round up your spare change and donate it to charities for you.”

– Jon Ostler, CEO of Finder UK

Methodology

  • Finder UK commissioned Onepoll to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+.
  • A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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