5 Signs You’re Ready to Save Your $5s

I’ve tapped into my inner saver to come up with a list of five reasons to begin saving your $5s. For me, it’s close to a 13-year habit so it’s solidly part of my DNA. And for you, here are some reasons you might be inspired to start.

     #1. You rarely have any money left over at the end of the month, no matter how much you earn. Admit it. You don’t know where your money goes. Don’t beat yourself up any longer. Start spending cash on your every day needs—from groceries to gas for your car, to lunches in the workplaces. Not only will you have a better sense of what you’re spending money on, but think of all the $5s you’ll get back as change, to save.

    # 2. You’ve been reading my blog or other online sites about saving money for some time. The five most common words you do a Google search on are: How To Save Money Fast. So, time to stop Googling and begin saving. As my old friend Razz used to say, “Doing does it!”

    #3.  The holidays are coming and you don’t want to go into debt again this year. Spending cash on gifts for family and friends is the only way to assure you won’t wrack up holiday debt. Start saving your $5s today (Oct. 3), and you might even save enough money between now and December to buy some of your holiday gifts.

    #4.  You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you’re like me, when there’s something I really want to do and I don’t, I get even more frustrated than if I’d tried something new. So, what better time to start saving money than right now?

     #5. You happen to have two or three $5s in your wallet right now. That’s a sign that it’s time. That’s how it started for me, driving to work one day and I noticed a few straggler $5 bills. I put them aside. The rest is history. I’ve now saved close to $38,000, all in $5 bills.

Yours in Fives,



Why Saving $5s Is Better Than Not Having Kids (If You Want Them)


Having a baby before you can afford one is a bad idea. They need clothes and food. They cost you dozens and dozens of diapers. They grow up and want to go to college, and hold on, mom and dad. Next thing you know, your offspring is spending your retirement money on tuition, room and board, and fees.

Unless you’re like a growing number of American women who are delaying motherhood for economic reasons.

Or unless you save your $5s because a fives nest egg accumulated over time could ease the financial tensions of raising a child.

But back to delaying children. Recent federal data points to a plummeting US fertility rate—half of what it was in the late 1950s and the peak of the Baby Boom. Forty years ago, an American woman typically had her first child at age 21, compared to 26.3 today, according to the study recently published in The Boston Globe.

Perhaps more revealing, the same study claims that 40 percent of women ages 40-55 say they wish they had more children than they do.

Birth control, education, and feminism are some of the reasons for the birthrate decline, according to the study. So too is the fear that many harbor—that they can’t afford to have children.

Putting the study aside for a minute, let’s break this down into the most simplistic of terms. If a 21-year-old decided today that she wanted to have a child in five years, and began saving two $5 bills a day until the baby’s birth, $17,600 would already be set aside to help with the child’s expenses. Save two more $5s a day until this baby is 18 and ready for college, and the amount saved would have grown to $63, 360. Get super extravagant and put aside three $5 bills a day for 23 years and the nest egg (352 days X $15/a day=$5280/year by 23 years) for a grand total of $121,440.

At the very least, you’ve got the cost of diapers covered!

Yours in Fives,






The Ugly Truth About Unexpected Expenses

When it comes to handling unexpected expenses—the old appliance that finally goes kaput, the big car repair, the emergency visit to the dentist—most people are unprepared.

In fact, a recent article that I read in a respected business journal reported one poll where more than 75 percent of Americans said they would be unprepared for an unexpected $400 expense. The same article said most of these people would charge the expense on a credit card and pay it off—or not—with interest over time.

In other words, they would have to go into debt (or more debt) to finance the unexpected $400 bill. Ugh. Still, it shocks me that three-quarters of those polled would be badly shaken by a $400 expense.

Not to minimize the personal finance challenges many people face, and clearly there have been times in my life when a blown out carburetor sent me into a financial tailspin. But $400, if you save your $5 bills, can be accumulated in a relatively short period of time. Even if you only save $20 a week in $5s (I typically save between $35-$60/week), you’d have $1049 saved in a year, or enough saved to face two and a half of those $400 emergencies a year.

Just saying. Happy Monday, everyone!

Yours in Fives,








Summer of $5s, Saving Small to Save Big

We’re almost one-third through the Summer of $5s (in which I asked readers to send stories, photos or videos) about how your $5 savings plan is going. Thanks to everyone who emailed, especially to the reader from Singapore who sent me a photograph of the $5 note from the world’s only island city-state.


Here are some of the stories I heard and thought you would enjoy, too.

An American woman named Kathy went to Europe for the first time last year, paying for two airplane tickets with $5 bills. In a recent note, she wrote:  “My husband and I have talked/dreamed of a trip to Europe together for more than 15 years. We returned from that trip a week ago today. The airline tickets were paid for with $5 bills.”

Almost 10,000 miles away in Brisbane, Australia, a reader emailed saying she was always bad at saving, until she read a story on a local website about my SaveMoneyFastWithFives method.

“It immediately appealed to me and I thought, ‘how easy does that sound?’” She  started stashing away the $5s she got back as change, and viola, “I’ve had no trouble saving $100s in a short amount of time.”

The website where she learned about the $5 savings method is equally enthusiastic in its endorsement. Follow this link for the story, but I’m excited by the enthusiasm expressed in a recent post. http://www.mamamia.com.au/simple-saving-trick/

A third save your $5s devotee, a woman from Singapore, corresponded with me last Fall after she learned of my SaveMoneyFastWithFives blog. In less than two months, she socked away $285 in $5s. She’s also helping spread the word by taking photos of her collection of $5s and posting them online.  She wrote: “I’ve put a hashtag on my photographs on Instagram and I’ve tagged it “#savemoneyfastwithfives” (there isn’t any prior photographs with this hashtag). I hope this idea helps to propel the inspiration in saving small to save big. You might like to tell your fans about the hag tag idea, I think it’s already a movement.”

Quick favor, readers. Any time you write about your saving $5s method of saving money, consider adding the hashtag #savemoneyfastwithfives. It will help us all find each other faster. Keep your stories and photos coming! How has saving $5 bills changed/helped/inspired your life

Yours in Fives,



Let’s Celebrate The Summer of $5s

It’s just about a year ago that I began writing this blog. Save Money Fast With Fives grew out of my double desire to first, better understand the blogosphere, and second, to share my $5 savings plan with as many people as possible. It’s been a terrific year of learning, sharing, meeting new people, and most important, of continuing to save my $5s.

And the best news of all: it is almost summer (summer solstice in my neck of the woods here in New England arrives at 10:30 p.m. tonight, June 20), my favorite time of year!

I’d like to say thanks to all of the readers who have communicated with me about the blog. Thanks to those who have shared the blog with friends and family and through social media. At times, when the blog goes viral (which it does from time to time since one of my posts was featured on the Time/Money websites and Facebook pages), I get feedback from hundreds of people a day. Some think my idea is the best thing since sliced bread, while others (a minority but a vocal group) think I’m a savings fool, pointing out money lost to inflation or credit card points lost to cash transactions. Oh, phooey on them. I love saving my $5s and will continue to do so.

Share Your Story!

Now, as we enter the summer season across the country, I’d like to challenge my readers to get on board and share with readers of this blog how your $5 savings plan is going. There are so many ways in which you can participate. Readers, maybe a few of you want to write a guest post for Save Money Fast With Fives about how the savings plan works for you. Or, you could post a photo of you (getting a $5 back as change!). Or share a video of you talking about your savings habits. Or just post a comment or two about how saving $5s is going for you. I’m looking for any and all reader contributions about how saving $5 bills has impacted your life. Send me a private email or just use the comments section at the end of each post to talk to us.

OK, Ready. Set. Go. Let’s Celebrate! The Summer of $5s has begun.

Yours in Fives,





How Do I Feel When I Strike It Rich? Priceless!


You know the Mastercard ads that put a price tag on everything except the zinger at the end (the look on your ex-boyfriend’s face or the conversation between a father and son at a baseball game) because there are some things money can’t buy? That’s right, the Priceless ad campaign has been so successful Mastercard has used it for 20 years.

Well, priceless is how I feel when I get a windfall of $5s back in one cash transaction. It happened a few weeks ago when I got—are you ready for this—ten $5s back as change after using a $100 bill at my local CVS to pay for a purchase of $8.48.

I know. Using a C-note for something under $10 is a bit over the top but it was the start of a month and I’d just gone to the bank. You should have seen my face when the cashier counted out my change….two $20s, one $1, some change, and 10 $5s!  “Sorry for all the $5s,” she said having no idea she had just made my day.

The good news is if you start using more cash in your daily life the same will happen to you.

Assuming you start the week with the cash you’ll need for everyday expenses  (groceries, gasoline, purchases at the newsstand, pub or public transit station), here are a few things you can do to strike it rich (in $5s) more often.

Buy as you go….Most people only need a few things they don’t have each day, but we buy in bulk, often at one place. I buy only what I need each day, paying with smaller denominations increasing the odds I’ll get a $5 back.

Make more than one stop…On the way home from work, instead of buying everything at one megastore, make three stops to speciality shops increasing the odds of getting a $5 back.

Pay in bills of $10 or higher…..or add $1s to the mix if it’ll help you get a $5 back. If something costs $7, use a $10 and two $1s to pay. Good chance, a 5-spot’s coming your way.

Everyone needs to feel like they struck it rich once in a while. And while I wouldn’t want to get that many $5s back as often as happened recently (because obviously, I’d have to go to the bank to withdraw more money), it was priceless one recent morning.


Yours in Fives,






Graduation season: as good a time as any to start saving $5s


Last week, the college where I teach near Boston, graduated another class of seniors. In retrospect, I cried and clapped more in a three hour commencement ceremony than is normal even for me, an effervescent type who wears her heart on her sleeve. But why wouldn’t one be super excited for the bright futures these young graduates have ahead of them?

And when I look back on my own college graduation more than 41 years ago, and when I do the math, I realize that if I had started saving $5 bills back then in 1975, I’d have a heck of a lot more than $40,000 saved in $5 bills (which is approximately what I have put aside now after 12 years). So, for any recent grads reading (or any reader who knows a recent grad and wants to pass along this tip), why not commence now to never again spend a $5 bill and save them instead and see how fast your nest egg will grow?

The good news is that it’s a lot easier to part with $5 today than it was that summer when I rented my first apartment, a two bedroom that I shared with a college friend and each of us paid—are you ready for this—-$112.50 a month!

Which brings me to the point of this post. Whether you’re a recent college graduate, a senior citizen, or somewhere in between, make the month of May, the traditional season of graduations, or commencements, be the time you start saving your $5 bills.

As a personal training coach I used to work with always said about the power of forming an intention and then focusing on it—-Doing Does It! Save one $5 bill a day for a month and you’ll sock away $150. Save two a day, and the stash grows to $300, a month, or $3600 a year, about what I average. Start today. No crying from me this time. I’ll be clapping instead. Congratulations on making a commitment to your financial future. #SaveMoneyFastWithFives


Yours in Fives,






The Trick to Saving Money: Doing Does It


Because it’s Marathon Monday in Boston, I’m reminded of the persistence and dedication it takes to be a runner, especially in a 26.2 mile race. The truth about saving money is that it’s kind of like running a marathon, that if you have a goal and you relentlessly pursue it, you might come out a winner in the end.

It’s also true that there’s no magic bullet, no one way to build a nest egg for the future. For some, the best route to financial freedom might be the company assisted 401K Plan; others find that setting aside a fixed percentage from their paycheck every month is the best path.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the whys and hows of endurance, whether in saving money or running a marathon, ‘doing does it’ is my motto. I fund a 403B retirement account while my husband contributes to a 401K, and most months, we save part of our income. But if saving a nest egg is all about intention, then adding one simple habit to your life will reap enormous rewards. Never again spend a $5 bill; save each and every one received as change in a cash transaction and watch your nest egg grow.

How much money you can save using this method depends on how much actual cash you use on a daily basis. Remember: you can’t get a $5 back as change if you pay with debit or credit cards. But if you’re like me, and use cash for everything from groceries, to a haircut, to filling the car with gas, the $5s will come back and like karma, reward you over time.

Good luck to all the runners in today’s Boston Marathon. #BostonStrong

Yours in Five,






Traveling is A Way to Save


Call me crazy but there’s nothing better than returning from a fabulous vacation with a wad of cash in your travel money belt.

I’m just home from a week in the French West Indies, on the island of Guadeloupe, a territory of France, where the local currency is the Euro and the preferred way to pass a day is on a gorgeous beach with pure white sand and the bluest waters ever. And besides some wonderful memories of the people I met and the colorful little seaside towns my husband and I visited during our stay, I’ve got a good tan, a stack of Euros and an extra $25 dollars tucked away. Actually, it’s 25 Euros, or the sum of the five 5Euro notes I got back as change while we were away.

To be honest, I love coming home with money to put towards my next trip, rather than a bunch of credit card bills to pay off, which is why I save my 5s whether they come in the form of a five dollar bill, a five Euro note, or any other currency where I travel.  It’s all part of the habit I’ve developed to save each and every five I get back as change in a cash transaction.

Developing a new habit takes time. And for some people, the only way to do this is to really focus on it and never be distracted from the goal, which is to save money.

Here are five savings pitfalls many people encounter and some ways to avoid them. Ch-Ching!

  1. Plastic—Saving money with my method involves a simple principle, that you pay for most incidental purchases with cash. As I’ve said many times, you won’t get a $5 back if you pay with a credit card.
  2. Great Idea, Poor Follow-through—Sometimes, when I tell someone about my $5 habit and their face lights up, then darkens, I know they won’t use the method long enough to succeed. But as soon as someone says ‘I love that idea and I’m going to use it until the day I die,’ I know they have the ability to achieve financial security with this and other savings methods.
  3. Have to Versus Want to—I often hear people say ‘I have to save money,’ or ‘I’m so bad at saving $.’ Success doesn’t come to people who have to do things, or to those who are bad at doing things. What if you chose to happily and voluntarily use more cash and save every $5 you got back as change? What if you told yourself you were good at saving money? Be positive, that’s the point.
  4. Uptight About Finances—Many people are uptight about money and let it control their saving and spending habits. But what if you relaxed, let go, and looked upon every $5 you got back in change as a sign of your growing abundance?
  5. Savings Works Best When You Succeed—-I try to count my $5s as often as I can as a way to remind me of the money I’ve already saved. It’s actually fun to grab a wad of bills and count 5, 10, 15, 20, up to….infinity, Ch-Ching!


Yours in Fives,






Can’t Keep Your New Years Resolutions? Save $5s Instead

Unfortunately, many New Year’s resolutions have been broken by now. Those of us who strive to improve ourselves or break bad habits, often shoot too high in the pursuit of goals. Then, when we fall short of our stated resolution, we beat ourselves up and declare our hopes and dreams lost forever.

This is just another reason I like my save your $5s plan to achieve financial security. It’s just so easy to keep that most people who begin this practice succeed.
How’s your New Year’s resolution to save each and every $5 you get back as change in a cash transaction going? Mine is going well, and well, maybe a little bit slower than at the end of 2015.

It’s no surprise: I spend more money around the fall and winter holidays than at any other time of year. Between Halloween and New Year’s, in fact, I bet I spend more money than in any other two month period. Between gifts and hand-outs, dinner parties and office gatherings, out of pocket expenses everywhere I turn and of course, travel, the amount of cash I spend, and the $5s I get back as change, is high.

By contrast, January and February are slow. On a recent 10-day vacation in Mexico, for example, I passed more time swimming in warm, turquoise waters and sipping pina coladas under a palm tree than spending money and getting back $5s. And when I did get change back from a purchase, they were pesos, not dollars, and believe me, 5 pesos is so little money it’s not worth saving.

A few days ago, a snowstorm descended on Boston, and since then, I’ve been at home, warm and cozy and not spending any money. So, while some days in December, I might get back three or four $5s in a day; today, it’s nada, no $5s saved, and I’m OK with that too. As long as I stick to my plan to save each and every $5 received as change, and as long as I use cash for most day-to-day purchases, my nest egg will grow, over time. Your’s too!

Yours in Fives,