Saving for Christmas? Research reveals astonishing amount of foreign currency sitting in our houses

And all the presents you could buy with it

New research has revealed that there is a staggering amount of foreign currency just sitting in our houses. Enough to make a big difference when saving for Christmas.

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Brits have hoarded more than two billion pounds in unused holiday money, sitting in cupboards, drawers and suitcases. Each home has £97.74 in unused money, and across the nation’s 27.6 million households this equates to a whopping £2,697,624,000.

On average, the leftover euros, dollars, yen and more have been collecting dust for three years. However, a survey of 2,000 adults by M&S Bank found one in 10 have hung on to the currency for a decade or more.

living room with grey wall grey sofa and christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

Four in 10 reckon admit they have money lying around for so long it’s probably no longer even in use.

'With most families taking their holidays over the summer, now is the most likely time to have forgotten foreign currency lying around the house,' says Paul Stokes, head of products at M&S Bank.

'It might seem like it will be useful one day, but our research shows that foreign currency in the home often goes forgotten about,' he adds.

More often than not, the nation's leftover holiday money can be found in the back of a drawer, which is the case for 39 per cent of Brits.

white wall room christmas tree on white drawer

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

Other likely locations include a handbag or wallet which hasn't been used 'for ages' (17 per cent), a piggy bank (nine per cent) and the suitcase they took on holiday with them (seven per cent).

The study also found one in 10 wouldn't know how to change their money back to British pounds even if they wanted to. Just 37 per cent have gone to the trouble of getting their foreign currency changed back.

The M&S Bank study carried out through OnePoll found the leftover currency would make Christmas easier on the purse strings for three in 10.

red and grey gift boxes and brown bags

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

And if putting it towards the festive period, a fifth would buy themselves a Christmas present. Seventeen per cent would spend it on Christmas dinner, 11 per cent would treat themselves to a party outfit and 10 per cent would buy decorations for their home.

Paul Stokes of M&S Bank, which is running a currency buy-back sale in its in-store bureaux from December 2 until January 11, added: 'We wanted to offer our customers the chance to get the best buyback rate ahead of Christmas.'

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'The money changed back can be put towards their families, or to allow them to treat themselves during this busy and often, expensive, time,' he adds

You can donate any foreign currency coins you may have to Breast Cancer Now by putting the money in Change4Change collection boxes found in M&S stores.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.