I love to share my habit of saving $5 bills with people and I’m always amazed at how fascinated many people are by the habit.
There was the cashier at a local supermarket this summer who reacted like I had just handed her a winning lottery ticket the day I told her how much I’d saved putting away every $5 I got back in change. The woman all but stopped doing her job (bagging my groceries) as she listened to me ramble on about how I’d started when my daughters were in college and money was tight, to why I still do it today, to the fact that I’ve saved almost $40,000 since beginning the practice 13 years ago.
Then there were the two young professors who are my colleagues at a college outside Boston who showed so much enthusiasm for the idea that I gave them both a $5 bill last week at our back to school meetings (yup, they even do those in college, I’ve learned) to help jump start their practice.
These profs are dynamite individuals by the way, great at teaching their disciplines and loved by their students, but here’s the thing. Both admitted that while they love my idea and need to find a better way to save money themselves, that they may be hindered because they don’t use a lot of cash.
Yes, yes, and yes for emphasis. If you don’t use cash, this won’t work.
You may love the idea of saving your nest egg with $5 bills but unless you use cash on a regular basis for everyday purchases like groceries, food or coffee to go, even gas and other issues of commuting and transportation, it will be impossible to save a significant amount this way. Like I’ve said many times while writing my blog, you can’t get a $5 back as change if you pay with a debit or credit card. Only cash will do the trick. End of story.
So, if you like the idea, but haven’t started yet, and like many people I share the tip with, especially Millennials, have a mostly cashless existence, shake it up this week. Go to the ATM machine. Take out enough cash to cover the basic expenses you expect to face in the next seven days. Pay for as many things as you can in cash. Consume as you need, rather than simply buying out of habit. See how many $5s you get back in a week. If you like the number, repeat it into week two, then a third. At the end of the month, add it up.
Was it a good way to save a bit of money? Only you can decide. My hunch is, if you give it a try, you might get hooked. Because who doesn’t like to stash away a little money for a rainy day.
Yours in Fives,