And if I paid with a $20 and my change all came back in small bills, the bill is “gone,” but savings is bolstered.
For me, however, it all starts with a mason jar.
In 2021, I put $665 in $5 bills into that jar, with $439 in singles and $95.06 in cash, leaving me a buck shy of $1,200 on the year. In 2020, my total was $1,002, with $540 of that coming from the fives.
That much extra savings never felt like a struggle, like my cash was disappearing. I never felt like I was burning through too much cash.
That might be my station in life. My younger self — the one who was commuting to work and seeing money bleed out with little stops along the way — always seemed to feel like the wallet was empty and needed refreshing.
But I also recognize that if I had been half as successful — saving just $600 — and started doing this when I was first working, it would have created an enormous windfall as I near retirement age. Putting $600 aside every year for nearly four decades — assuming it had grown at 8% — would have generated about $150,000 in savings by now; bump the return assumption to a market-based 10% average, and the savings would now amount to about a quarter-million dollars.
Too many people complain that they “can’t afford to save,” when the reality is that they can’t afford not to. Find a way to stop the financial bleeding and to bank some of the superfluous spending. If that extra savings makes your financial belt feel too tight, it’s a sign that you’re spending too much.