How Saving $5 Bills Made Me Famous

Remember Andy Warhol’s iconic quote: “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes?”

I had my four minutes and 29 seconds of fame last week when I appeared as a guest on the Today Show in Australia. The topic, you guessed it, my habit of saving five dollar bills. Here’s a link to the interview, which was taped in Boston and aired live in Australia.

What surprised me most about the experience is that even though I was nervous all day going into the local TV studio to tape, once the interview began and I started talking about my $5 savings hack (as the Aussies call it), I was completely relaxed. It was no different than telling a colleague, or the cashier in the supermarket, or students in my classroom, about the habit. Saving $5 bills (it’s been 13 years now and I’ve amassed close to $40,000), is second nature to me.

So, what were the highlights gleaned from the on camera interview?

How did I start this brilliant idea?

First, it’s not brilliant at all, in fact it’s really a very simple way to save money, regardless of your age or financial circumstances. I started the practice at a time in my life when our finances were strained. With two daughters in private colleges at the same time, I worried I was unable to save any money….until a toll collector handed me back three fives as change from the $20 I used to pay my toll. I started socking away $5s that day, which is not to say it was easy to keep the girls in college, but saving every five I got back as change sure was an easy way to save money, however small the amount.

Have I ever been tempted to sneak money from my stash of $5s?

The answer is a simple no. From the moment I began, it was fun, it was a game, and I’ve never spent a five since. I think it’s my steadfast commitment to the practice that has guided my success.

Does the math add up?

The TV hosts asked me to do some math. How much can a person save using this method? Without getting too wrapped up in numbers, I offered this. Save one $5 bill a day and you’ll have $1,825 at the end of the year. Save two $5s a day and it turns into $3,650 by year’s end. Even better. If a person saves one $5 bill a day from the time they are 25 years of age until they reach 75, they will have saved $91,250! Just in five dollar bills.

What am I going to do with all this money?

I’m asked this question all the time, and the simple answer is that I don’t know. The daughters who were in college when I started saving my fives are now married and even while we were planning and paying for their weddings, we didn’t use any of the money in the $5s account. It’s become an abundance magnet for me in other areas of my life, such as health, relationships, work. The one time I might spend the money is when my husband and I retire. We love to travel and I have a fantasy that when we do, we’ll take my $5s account and travel around the world, and not come home until we’ve run out of money. Then, (or maybe before!), I’ll write a book and its title will be “Around the World on $5 a Day.”

In conclusion, I’m still waiting for 11 minutes and 71 seconds more of fame. Because that first four minutes and 29 seconds sure was fun.


Yours in Fives,




4 thoughts on “How Saving $5 Bills Made Me Famous

  1. I have been doing this the last 2 years, but different than you, as I am 70, I have been spending
    on trips and fine wine and using for things I normally would not spend. I save about $200 per month and now have over $1500 and ready for a 1st Quarter Healdsburg Wine Trip. I also teach college part-time and have explained this to the students. My compliments to you

    • Hi Richard, I think the way you spend your $5s is wonderful. Trips and fine wine are worthy of you at this stage. Thanks for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts today.

  2. What a stunning job you did at your interview, Marie, of recapping your “saving money fast with fives” plan! And I did not know that you have NEVER in thirteen years, spent from your own stash of fives, except to give one to an occasional student of yours, encouraging another potential $5 saver, and to send them on their way! By the way, I love your idea for the eventual employment of your savings! Afterwards, when you write about your travels in “Around the World on Five Dollars a Day”, something tells me that you will have no trouble at all cashing in, if you pardon the pun, on another 10 minutes or more of well-deserved fame! Kudos!

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