Do you want the good or bad news first?

Let’s start with the good. The unemployment rate is at an all time low. Fewer people are looking for jobs than at any time in history. The stock market has been rising and people’s retirement plans have been climbing.

But with all the good economic news, there’s one piece of information that rattles me and frankly that I can’t understand. 23 percent of working Americans save nothing from their monthly income for their future retirement, according to the First National Bank of Omaha. Nothing. Nada. Zero.

It’s time for me to admit that I don’t post on my blog often enough, especially during the school year when the college where I teach is in session. But post or not, I continue to save, my $5s, in my 401K Plan, and whatever else I can at the end of a month. It’s not that I’m obsessed. It’s just part of who I am, a saver. And when it comes to saving my $5s, I just do it—that is, save every five dollar bill that comes back to me as change.

One reason it’s such a successful savings habit for me is that there is no exception to the rule. If I get a $5 back, I tuck it away. The pile of tucked away $5s reaches a bulky amount, and I deposit them in the bank. They add up, year after year, to now, when after around 14 years of saving $5s, I’ve accumulated more than $43,000, just in $5s.

The summer is always a good time for me to save more money because between May and August, I have more free time and am out and about spending more money than during the academic year. Family gatherings are more frequent. My grandson visits at the beach house more often. I throw more dinner parties, buy more home furnishings and clothes. My days are more carefree, all adding up to more time to be in and out of stores stocking up on food, supplies, books to read, and saving my $5s.

In Boston, where I live, it’s been a long winter and a wet and rainy spring. But the sun is out today, and I’m hopeful it will shine again tomorrow. With this optimism, my joy returns and the playfulness and carefree lifestyle of a child on summer vacation. Just like the child who opened up a savings account the summer I turned seven years old, I will return to the abundance of an earlier time in my life, when having just one $5 dollar bill make me feel prosperous.

Ice cream, anyone? One scoop or two?


Yours in Fives,







4 thoughts on “Do you want the good or bad news first?

  1. I have been fortunate enough to save quite a few 5’s, however, I am now retired and don’t carry cash on me. My debit card gets used more which means I don’t save as much. I just wish I have known of this much earlier in life.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Sarah. I understand your dilemma. And I wonder, even though you are retired, you could still use cash for basic everyday purchases….gas in the car, a few items from the grocery store, etc. True enough, though, once we’re on fixed income it gets harder to save. Like you, I wish I’d started the $5 habit back when I first started working. Enjoy your retirement! You worked hard to get to this point.

  2. You had a revealing statement when you said about saving. “It’s not that I’m obsessed. It’s just part of who I am, a saver.” That’s an identity statement. Are you a saver because you save or do you save because you’re a saver? I ask that rhetorically. Saving as a national identity is not apart of America and that’s partly why Americans don’t save, it’s not apart of our country’s identity. I highly encourage and recommend the new book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. He talks about how the things we do are a reflection of identity and that’s why in order to build any habit you have to transform your identity. Cheers!

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