I’m sure each and every one of us has seen or read articles on how to save $1,825 a year by skipping your daily Starbucks (The Latte Effect). But what about those of us that really enjoy indulging in small everyday luxuries, but still want to save money? Maybe it’s Starbucks, frozen yogurt, pastries, or smoothies… whatever it is, it’s important to you. You want to have it daily, weekly, and/or monthly. You want to save money because you have dreams and are planning a vacation, spending a year overseas, starting a business or ???. Well that’s all good and all but neither of us wants to completely suffer without our favorite barista making orgasmic frappes during this stressful time! (Yes, you read that right… I said orgasmic.)
I also, wanted to save money outside of my savings account. For me, my savings account was too easy to transfer money out of when I needed it. When your goal is several months or years away it can be hard to see the bigger picture. Many 1-year around the world backpackers spend 1-3 years saving for their trips. I needed something I couldn’t touch. Something that I could see add up and be super motivated about. Something that was tangible.
So I got a big plastic ozarka jug and everyday I put my change into it. I followed 3 simple rules:
- Never use change (coins) when buying something. Always use bills. This is so you can get multiple opportunities for change each day.
- Never touch the money. (It’s a pain in the ass to take out $20 in quarters to use it anyways – Not worth the hassle!)
- No counting. Let the change add up and be surprised at the end. For me, it gave extra motivation to book my trip because I was super curious about how much those coins were worth after all those months.
Not only is this money to supplement your regular dream savings. It could be a rainy day jar where you use the money for days you’d like to do something special that’s beyond your daily budget or you could use it to buy gear or airfare. It’s up to you!
You won’t miss this money. In fact, you probably won’t even notice it missing from your wallet. However, over the course of time it adds up to a significant amount of money. When I was guesstimating the net worth of my coins I figured it’d be around $400-$600… so did everyone else. I ended up with $1,029.70 over 17 months of throwing my daily change into a jar. This averaged to $2.01 per day. In fact, Chris Guillebeau advocates putting away $2 per day to save up for a trip anywhere in the world after 3-years of savings. What if you did both? What if you saved $2 per day and threw your change into a jar. That would be an average $4 per day in additional savings. For me, this is completely separate and is not a replacement for your overall savings strategies. This is an easy and fun way to get some additional funds from money you don’t really need anyways. I found it really fun to track and watch the progress of the jar go up.
What’s your one place in the world that you’d like to visit someday? Start putting your change towards it and actually get there in 3 years or less!
Sometimes, it motivated me to skip daily luxuries and put even more money in than change. I had bills ranging from $1-$20 included into this “change saving” but wanted to make this post about how something small can add up to value over time. It is easy to put in $20 in your wallet that you know you’ll spend on something stupid anyways – might as well save it. This kind of ‘bill’ savings became a multiplier on top of my regular changing saving technique.
To put it in other terms with daily change hoarding you could have:
Note: For easy math I rounded daily totals to $2 based on my savings of $1,039.70 over 17 months. Unless linked estimates are based on my own travels.
1 Month - 4 nights in a private room at a hostel in Fiji ($60)
3 Months - 90 budget breakfasts ($2) while backpacking South America ($180)
9 Months - Cost of Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Trek (all inclusive), sleeping bag rental, and guide/porter tip ($540)
1 Year - 22.5 days in Thailand – based on $31.96 per day at Me-Go ($720)
1 Year 3 Months - 106 nights in hostels while backpacking South America – $8.5/night average ($900)
1 Year 5 Months - Roundtrip flight from Los Angeles, CA to Bangkok, Thailand – AA.com ($1020)
- Put pennies in a separate jar. For me, I liked knowing there wasn’t any fluff to my change jar.
- Have fun with it. The more you have fun with it the more you’re going to be motivated to do more and add more. If you have kids get them involved. You could create an evening or weekly routine around jar deposits. Things can range from conversations to songs to sound effects to games and anything in between. The more positive experiences you have and the more fun you have doing it…the more change you’ll start trying to come up with to extend the experience. Maybe you do end up skipping a frappe here and there to add more to the jar than usual.
- Show a few trusted friends your money jar! Tell them what it’s about and what it’s for. Talk about and share your dream. Many times I just told them because it was tangible proof that I was working towards my dream. I was really proud of it. I wanted them to know and be inspired. But often my friends would empty out their pockets and add to the coin stash themselves. I got a little extra coinage for my jar and they felt good about helping me.
- This one isn’t completely related, but if you are with Bank of America add the “keep your change” program to your savings account (or something similar). This rounded up the amount of my debit card purchases and added the change to my savings account, resulting in an additional $371.57 in my savings account.
A little bit of change every day adds up over time. What are you going to save your change for? What’s your one place? Let me know in the comments below.
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