Saving money isn’t as fun as spending it. Especially since watching your savings grow is probably as exciting as watching grass grow. But as with all other things that grow — babies, plants, animals — it takes time and nurturing and attention. Rarely do growing things prosper if left alone to its own devices.
Savings is no different. To grow your savings you need to nurture it, feed it and believe in its possibilities. Sure, it sounds hokey. But the reality of saving is that it’s more like the tortoise than the hare. Remember that story from childhood? The one where the rabbit thinks he’s all that and takes off and then thinks he has a sizable lead to lose it to the tortoise who moves slowly but focused and purposefully.
If you give your savings a little attention each day, it will grow. Did your dad have a jar he’d dump all his change in? Did your mom let you have all the coins she got as change from the grocery store?
I lived with my grandparents and they had this giant plastic container they’d put their coins into. It was about 3 feet tall and I have no idea where they got it. Probably in Europe somewhere because my mom said she remembered when she was a kid. Every night when they came home from work, my grandparents would put all their coins in this bottle.
The hollow sound of the coins plunking against the plastic when the bottle was empty seemed sad. How could this giant thing ever get filled up when coins were just so small. And, really, how much could this thing hold? And how long would it take? Probably years, I thought.
But it didn’t. Some days it was only 3 or 4 coins. Other days it was a hand full. Regardless of how much, there was always something to deposit. Each. Day. Every. Day.
It was a little at a time. But slowly it would fill up until it was so heavy my Grandpa would have to get the hand truck to move it. I remember it usually took about 5 or 6 months to fill the bottle up. And for days I’d sit at night helping my grandparents roll coins. My grandma worked at a bank so I had to be especially careful because I didn’t want her to get in trouble if I miscounted. To this day I’m a champion coin roller! If only there was Coinstar back then!!
The giant plastic bottle wasn’t just a place to collect coins. It was filled with my grandparent’s dreams. On the outside of the bottle they’d tape a picture of their vacation destination. My grandparents loved to travel and every 4 or 5 years they’d pick a new destination. Greece. China. Israel. Egypt. Russia.
My grandparents would go for 3 weeks on these amazing excursions. In the non-travel years they might visit relatives or friends, but nothing elaborate. They had a goal and they did what they needed to make sure they’d be able to get there.
Baby steps. Nurturing their growing mound of coins. They’d also put away larger sums of money, kind of like a Christmas Club account. But it was this giant plastic bottle of coins that left an impression with me. Over a 4 year period of time my grandparents were able to save several thousand dollars just in extra coins. This was long before credit cards. And debit cards were unheard of. Your choice was cash, check or store credit.
So what to do now in the days of plastic money? Is it really worth it to use cash. I know many people feel that if they have cash it’s as good as spent. But, give it a try. Now, while it’s not as exciting as plinking coins into a giant plastic bottle, there are online options. You can set up an account with ING or your bank or credit union and have a specific amount transferred every week.
Just a little bit, consistently, will make a difference! If you save it, it will grow!
Will you join me in saving a little each day?
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