This post comes from Jeffrey Steele at partner site Insure.com.
For years, economists have warned that Americans lack the ability to save. But maybe they’re looking in the wrong places. Americans seem to have plenty saved up — stashed in our cars.
If it’s true that we’re not socking away enough for retirement, what’s to account for the $2.4 billion in loose change rolling around the nation in our cars? Yes, billion.
According to a study by CouponCodesPro, a coupon site for consumers, 88 percent of drivers in the United States leave money in their cars, with Americans keeping an average of $21.48 in their rolling piggy banks. That’s a lot of dimes in Daimlers and a ton of quarters in Quattros, not to mention a bunch of greenbacks in hatchbacks.
Americans stash money in the glove compartment (47 percent), in the ashtray (23 percent) and in the door compartment (19 percent). In 8 percent of cases, the money is kept on the floor of the car.
If you believe savings ought to be invested or kept in a bank account, tip your cap to New Yorkers, who have an average of only $3.66 squirreled away in their cars. At the other extreme are Californians, who keep an average of $43.11 in their autos.
If 88 percent of the 127,091,286 passenger cars registered in the U.S. have an average $21.48 banked within, the study authors declared, that would total $2,402,330,324 in transit on the nation’s roads. Given the frequency with which vehicles suffer break-ins, fires and other damage, keeping money in your car does not appear to be the most prudent fiscal strategy.
Why do we do it to ourselves?
Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Chicago-based Cars.com, blames all the loose change on fast-food drive-through purchases. He also sees a direct correlation to bad gas mileage: “Loose change is a leading indicator of motorist overeating, and the more we weigh, the more fuel is required to propel us to the next drive-through. The cycle continues. Look in the mirror, Americans. You’ve really let yourself go.”
Edmunds.com automotive editor Mark Takahashi also blames drive-throughs for much of our extra coinage, but also suggests that we like driving around with all that money.
“Coins quite literally just weigh us down. Everyone’s got a stash of annoying coins mixed in with buttons and lint at home, so we think of our car ashtrays as just another repository until the weight finally forces us to seek out a Coinstar machine. Odds are, most of the coins in our vehicles are a byproduct of drive-through eateries. And we have as much of an emotional attachment to them as the fast-food crumbs left behind,” says Takahashi.