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,


5 Tips on How to Use Your $5s Stash


Should I spend my stash of $5 bills or should I save it for a rainy day?

These are questions I used to ask myself but don’t anymore. I’ve come to accept the fact that, for me at least, the money I’ve saved in $5s is more than a savings account. It’s actually become a magnet for all sorts of abundance in my life: health, relationships, family, travel, career and more.

Does this mean you can never spend your $5 stash? Absolutely not. That decision is entirely up to you.

If you need a little bit of help deciding what to do with all the $5 bills you’ve been saving, here’s a short list of ways you could put your money to good use.

1. Use it to buy something you really need, whether that’s a pair of good winter boots, a new car, or a safe deposit box to save your $5s.
2. Use it to crowd source yourself and fund a passion or a dream: a trip to Europe, the down payment on a condo or house, maybe a new business of selling jewelry or crafts on etsy.
3. Give it away—to someone or something you believe in—a child who needs some extra money, a non-profit you believe in, an agency assisting refugees as they resettle.
4. Use it to finance a one time splurge. Depending on the size of your stash, that could mean anything from dinner for four at a great local diner, or a trip around the world.
5. Keep it as inspiration for more abundance to come!

Readers, what are you doing with the $5s you save? As always, I would love to read your comments in the section below! Happy 2016!

Yours in Fives,


I Resolve to…..Save My $5s!

There are plenty of areas of life about which we could have a New Year’s resolution. And for most of us, money is on the list.

Looking to buy a house in 2016? Hoping to pay down your student loan? Working to raise your credit score, or simply get out of credit card debt? Or how about the ultimate savings goal—a comfortable retirement and enough money to pursue your passions?

If you have financial goals for 2016, here are three ways that saving your $5 bills will help you reach them.

1. They add up over time

Even if you don’t save your $5s but feel you can afford to put away $5 a day each day of the coming year, by New Year’s 2017, you will have accumulated $1,825. Just by saving one $5 bill a day.

2. Easy does it

If you’re looking for an easy way to save, what could be easier? Save each and every $5 bill received as change in a cash transaction and watch your savings grow. There’s no need to deprive yourself to save. No need to set aside a fixed amount a month. No need to do anything but commit to using cash for many of your daily purchases, and then saving each $5 given back as change. Viola!

3. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty

Just like children get excited when they learn to count by 5’s, it’s fun for all ages to count a stash of $5 bills. On a recent holiday shopping excursion, I came home with six $5s to add to my pile, and honestly, it was fun adding them up. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30! It was certainly more fun than filing credit card bills. And if saving money equates to having fun, well, what could be better than that?

Happy New Year’s!

Yours in Fives,


Save Your $5s and Rest Easy All Year

I’ve been a less frequent blogger the past few months, bogged down with my job as a college professor, and too busy to promote the idea of saving $5 bills with the same vigor as when I started SaveMoneyFastWithFives last summer.

In the spirit of Christmas, dear readers, I hope you’ll forgive me.

And during this season of Christmas, when we spend a lot of time worrying about how much it’s all going to cost, I have reason to cheer: I’ve already deposited $165 in my fives savings account this month and December still has 11 days to go.

Another way to explain my less frequent posts the last few months is that after a while, how much more can I say about my practice of saving $5 that I haven’t already? My husband said he is amazed that I’ve been able to write about this savings habits from so many unique angles. But here’s the thing: Even when the practice gets boring, even when I can’t think of anything new to say about it, it still works. It’s tried and true.

And that’s why I do it, why I save every $5 that I get back in a cash transaction. Because it’s easy to implement, even easier to maintain as a regular practice, and because it works.

Saving each and every $5 bill that passes through your hands will add up to a sizeable nest egg over time. Mine is nearing $40,000. after more than 12 years.

Very few of us are immune from fears about holiday spending or post holiday debt. But adopt the SaveMoneyFastWithFives savings plan, and rest easy now and all year long. Happy holidays!

Yours in Fives,


Why Saving Money is Another Reason to Be Thankful at Thanksgiving

I’m just home from a four-day Thanksgiving adventure with my husband, daughter and son-in-law. We traveled from Boston to Denver and then four hours south into Rocky Mountain high country where we spent the holiday in a most spectacular setting with daughter number two’s in-law’s.

Among a multitude of blessings, I’m thankful for family, food, and fun that made up my T-Day, 2015. And, of course, for Anna Kate and Eric who insisted we join them.

Back in Boston this morning after taking the red eye from Denver, I’m unpacking and rearranging, and assessing the trip. Hands down. This Turkey Day was a 5.

There were the in-laws, gracious people, fast friends, and cooks extraordinaire. There was the setting in a spacious house built beneath a mountain peak with wide panes of windows and the most spectacular Rocky Mountain views. There was the warmth of the wood stove, the fun of the competitive games of Bananagrams, the joy of knowing the kids wanted us to travel with them for the holiday. Let’s not forget the moist turkey, the succulent root vegetables, the delicious pies and bubbly Prosecco too.

And then, as always, there was the thrill of cleaning out my pocketbook after returning home to see that I’d tucked away six $5s, or $30 in a few short days. (Including a few thrown in from hubby Bill).

Yes, travel causes us to spend money, but if you’re like me, and use cash while getting from one place to the next, travel is also a great opportunity to add to your $5 nest egg. In fact, I save $5s whenever I travel, whether in dollars, Euros, or pesos during our frequent trips to Europe and the Caribbean.

Once when talking with a friend about my $5 savings habit, and how I always return from vacations with cash to put toward the next adventure, she said: “Oh, I wish I could do the same. I always come home broke or in credit card debt” I shot back, “Well, you can, you just have to pay for stuff in cash.”

My $5s came back while buying the following items during my four days away from home: bottled water and a copy of the New York Times in the airport; two bottles of white wine for the Thanksgiving table; lunch in a finger licking good barbeque place while on the road from the airport to our host’s house, and a few items to supplement dinner picked up at a local grocery store one day.

Oh how grateful I am to be home safe and sound, belly full, heart expanded, another day and a half still left to the weekend, and an extra $30 to deposit in my $5 savings account, which grows every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yours in Fives,


Tips for Trimming Holiday Expenses and Saving More $5s

Do all your gift shopping with cash. Wrap your own gifts. Send e-cards for free instead of relying on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your seasons greetings. There are lots of ways to save money during the holidays.

And to continue saving your $5s.

Just yesterday, with $100 in cash, it was easy for me to save three $5s during a short pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip. I stopped by three different stores—a retail shop, a supermarket, and a convenience store and bought three items (one food, one gift, and one home cleaning product), each time paying with $20 bills. Viola! Three necessary purchases, and three $5s ($15) to add to my savings nest egg. All in one afternoon.

Here are five tips to help you reign in holiday spending over the next several weeks.

1. Do most of your gift shopping with cash. For starters, you’ll be much more aware of how much you are actually spending. And remember, you won’t get a $5 back if you pay with a debit or credit card. Besides getting some $5s back as change, you may get in and out of the stores faster if you’re allowed in the cash only line at check-out.

2. Wrap your own gifts instead of paying extra at the department store. Buying wrapping paper and ribbon in bulk (and then wrapping the gifts yourself) will be much cheaper than paying someone else to do it.
3. Prepare your own foods and buffet tables for holiday parties instead of paying a caterer. Better yet, host a pot-luck party and sample the unique dishes of all your friends and family, while saving stress and money.
4. Instead of sending your holiday photo cards through the U.S. Postal Service, send e-cards, for free. Put the $100 or more dollars you would have spent on printing and postage in the bank instead.

5. Establish a holiday budget and stick to it. Avoid impulse buying just because you like the way something looks or feels. Walk away and if a few days from now you still really want the item, then go back and buy it.

Ta-da! Five easy tips for cutting costs during the holidays. Bet you can think of more.

Yours in Fives,


Why Spreading the Save Money Fast With Fives Plan is a Must Do


Several years ago, when I published a story about my $5 savings habit in The Boston Sunday Globe, I had a digital epiphany. My in-box at work was flooded with messages from readers in Boston and the suburbs, all six New England states, Georgia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. The simple message of saving five dollar bills as one route to financial security became viral in the blogosphere, and my story of saving thousands of dollars with that method was among the 10-top most e-mailed articles on for a few weeks. It was also linked in several popular financial blogs. The story even caught the attention of producers at MSNBC and WBZ-TV, as well as Oprah Winfrey, whose producer called me to discuss a possible appearance on the show.

Last summer, when I guest blogged on, a popular personal finance blog named best of its kind by Kiplinger a few years back, the same thing happened. Suddenly, my nascent blog went from attracting 50 visitors a day, to 200, to 750, to 2,000, and then, at its height to 6,950 visitors in one day.

Wowza! When a simple idea catches so many people’s attention, it must be pretty cool.

Today, my goal is to spread the $5 Saver message beyond the readership of The Boston Globe, where I worked as a journalist for 24 years, beyond the followers of my blog,

And so, dear readers, I ask a favor. Spread the message of saving $5 bills to all your friends and family. Post it on FB, tweet it out into the universe, tell everyone you know there is an easy, simple method of saving money and building a nest egg, one $5 bill at a time.

Happy Weekend!

Yours in Fives,