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Reader Tip: Don’t Spend Your $5 Bills

Julie emailed in the following tip:

My husband has always been a cash user, and only uses other forms of payment when necessary. As for myself, I still have a debit card, but I try to use cash for most of my purchases.

Using cash has allowed us to implement a simple savings plan (my husband’s brilliant idea) that has helped us purchase a number of big ticket items in our household, including our computer, camera, and dining table.

What is this savings plan you ask? It’s simple… don’t spend your $5 bills.

I realize a five-dollar bill seems like a rather large bill to just stop using, but when you’re using the cash system, you may find that you don’t notice it as much. (Except for the occasional time you have to break a $20 and get three $5’s in return, and — oh yes! — it happens.) When this does happen, just close your eyes, put those $5 bills in your jar and move on. Before you know it, you’ll be able to purchase that item you’ve been waiting for!

If you just can’t force yourself to give up those $5 bills (or you’re in a financial position where every penny matters), start out with $1 bills or even quarters. Instead of spending them, stick them in a jar and save them. Before long, they will really start to add up!

For more money-saving tips, check out Julie’s blog,

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  • Angela says:

    We helped pay for our wedding by not spending our change. We collected the change in a jar and after we had several dollars worth, opened up a joint savings account (back when you still earned interest that mattered). Every few weeks we would make another deposit.

    My parents did a modified approach and saved all of their pennies and nickels to help save for college for me and my brothers.

    It is amazing how you don’t ‘miss’ it and amazing how quickly it can accumulate.

  • We have done this for years. Only rolling and counting one time a year (usually in July). We then used this money to make an extra payment on house, business loan, what ever was owed on. We are now debt free!!(When I say debt free I mean we owe no man) Our daughters save their change too. We would sit a roll and talk about what they wanted to put their money towards. I would help, if I could at the time, round it up to help them meet their goals. It is soo satisfying at this point in our lives to be debt free. Now I look around the house and wish we had not spent on little this and thats and had that extra money in hand. It is all a mind set, that each of us have a decide what is right.

  • Jodi says:

    My husband works for tips and we use only cash. We have a big water jug and we put all our change and $2 bills in it. Plus, when he makes more than expected we throw a $20 in there. When it is full, we use it to pay toward the debt we are paying off. when full it is a couple thousand dollars! And we don’t even miss the money!

  • Sarah says:

    Great advice! I may have to start with $1 bills…but this really motivates me!

  • Brit says:

    My husband and I have been doing this for a few months with our $10 bills and adding it to our regular savings account, it has doubled our savings in that short time. It’s has saved us from buying random impulse purchases because of the “gamble” of it costing us $10 more than sticker price. 😉

  • 1956okie says:

    A friend of mine used to save her $10 bills, and it worked fine. But when she switched to saving her $5 bills, she actually found that she saved more–enough to pay for a vacation one year! She says you get more fives than tens when you get change, so they add up faster.

    Thanks for this post….it’s a great reminder to me to start doing this!!

  • Jessica says:

    We save all of our change, and put it in our girls’ piggy banks. Once a year, we roll it up and deposit it into their bank accounts (which they do not know they have). We also put all of their monetary gifts from birthdays and Christmas into these accounts as well.

    When they graduate from high school, they can then use the money for additional college savings, or for whatever they choose. It’s a great way to save for their future, and we don’t even know we are!

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