A mountain climber

Getting disciplined about money can take many forms.

I love to read about the little tricks people use to force themselves to save money. Apparently I’m not the only one. I was sent a brief story from The Boston Globe that describes how Marie Franklin saves every five dollar bill she receives. She’s been doing this for three years, and in that time she’s managed to save $12,000. She writes:

This idea will only work if you are disciplined. When I decided to save my fives, I meant it, and I save every one. No exceptions. (OK, once on the Mass. Pike I gave the toll collector a 20 and he returned three fives and four ones. I panicked. This was my allowance for the week. I asked him to give me a ten and more ones instead.) Otherwise, if I get a five dollar bill back — at CVS, or Starbucks, or Marty’s on Washington Street — I tuck it away, smiling.

When the fives pocket in my wallet reaches $50, I make a deposit in my credit union. When this account reaches $2,000, I buy a CD to earn higher interest. Also, it helps to pay with cash. You can’t get a five back if you’re always using credit cards.

Franklin writes that she’s always been a saver, and this was just another way to maintain the habit.

Related >> Savings Strategies: Little Moves That Equal Big money

My wife, too, has always been a saver, and she uses a trick like this to accumulate extra money. For several years, Kris has been rounding every transaction up to the next dollar in her checkbook. If she spends $49.74 at the grocery store, she enters this in her checkbook as $50. If she spends $33.13 on gas, she enters it as $34. As a result, she saves an average of 50 cents every time she performs a transaction.

In 2-1/2 years, Kris saved an extra $500 using this method. That’s enough to treat herself to something nice. (Bank of America offers a similar program called Keep the Change.)

There are many variations on these sorts of saving tricks. It’s common for people save their pocket change in a jar, of course, but some save their dollar bills, too. Some find this sort of thing counterproductive, but others find that games like these offer motivation to save.

What is your motivation to save? What tricks have you employed that make saving fun and productive?

Here are some more posts about saving money and getting ahead: