By Daniel Hunter

Over half of Brits (59%) are suffering from ‘ATM amnesia’, leaving them scratching their heads when faced with yet another empty wallet, admitting they have completely forgotten how and where they spent the last of their cash.

We’ve all been there. A trip to the cashpoint to withdraw money and seemingly hours later, it’s all disappeared without a trace. No it’s not foul play, it’s what is being termed ATM amnesia, a modern-day syndrome that affects over 30 million of us in the UK.

The new research, carried out by Barclaycard Contactless, reveals that sufferers of ATM amnesia are losing track of nearly £20.002 every week, which stacks up to almost £10003 each year.

Almost a third of sufferers (28%) think that using a contactless card for these smaller cash purchases would treat their condition and fight this forgetfulness, helping them to keep track of how and where they spent their money.

Almost half of Brits (44%) admit they have embarrassingly found themselves caught short, without enough cash to pay for something when they thought they had it ready in their wallets.

Losing track of change after breaking into a note is the most common symptom of ATM amnesia, with 32% of Brits blaming this for their missing cash. This is closely followed by being less aware of cash spending compared to that on a card (31%), and simply spending cash more quickly than they plan to (24%). One in five (19%) say notes and coins are too hard to keep track of and 15% admit to leaving loose change in pockets and items of clothing.

To keep track of the cash in their wallets, over a third of Brits rely on their memory alone, but it appears the condition only worsens over time. By the end of each month only a third (36%) can account for all of their cash spending. In contrast to this over half (52%) of those with a contactless card admit that having contactless technology to make smaller, cash-equivalent payments, was an effective treatment for their ATM amnesia.

“At one time or another, most of us have found ourselves staring down at an empty wallet when we swore we still had a tenner on us. ATM amnesia can affect even the most organised of people," Tami Hargreaves, Head of Contactless Delivery for Barclaycard, commented.

"Smaller payments here and there quickly add up and cash can easily disappear in an instant without remembering exactly where we spent it. Using a contactless card for payments under £20 is as quick and easy as using cash, and as it tracks every purchase you make you won’t be able to lose a penny.”

Of course using an ATM is still important for many of us — so getting a receipt is a good way to track your cash withdrawals, something 37% of us do. And while mobile payment tool and online banking apps like Barclays Mobile Banking are increasingly popular, ATMs also offer people a way to check their balance when they’re out-and-about.

Despite being renowned for their excellent multi-tasking abilities, it appears that ATM amnesia is more likely to affect women than men. Over two-thirds of women (61%) admit they often can’t account for how they spent their last cash withdrawal compared to 57% of men. Similarly, fewer women (34%) admit to being able to account for all of their cash spending at the end of the month compared to 39% of men.

Furthermore, despite memory loss being attributed with growing older, ATM amnesia is most likely to occur in those aged between 18 and 24 than any other age group, with seven in ten (69%) admitting they can’t account for how they spent their last cash withdrawal.

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