Why I choose to save my pocket change

Saving Pocket Change

by Rich Finzer

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Small Start, Big Finish

From 1916 until the mid-70s, my mother's side of our family ran a German restaurant and tavern called Rhinehart's. Before it was sold, my Uncle Mike was the last Rhinehart family member to run the place. Uncle Mike was a colorful character and a born saver. As a kid, I can still remember him saying, "Richie, you take care of the nickels and dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves." That was good advice to a little boy in the 50s and it's still good advice today. It means by diligently saving pocket change, your savings can rapidly add up to a large stack of dollars.

Nickels and Dimes

I rarely carry coins, preferring to shop solely with paper currency. If I redeem beverage containers for the $.05 deposit, leverage my $.21 senior citizen discount at the pink and orange coffee place (you know the one), or end up with loose change from any other purchase, it all goes into a tin box. From time to time, I count up what's there, roll the coins, and redeem them for "heavy paper" when next I visit my bank. Periodically, I exchange the smaller bills for portraits of my favorite President, which is General Grant.

Fooling Myself

Taken at face value, my little regimen is actually pointless. I could just as easily set aside a fixed amount each month. Basically, I'm playing a game with my own money, pretending it's "free" simply because it's initially in the form of coins instead of "quiet money." But, it's fun and helps me focus on a long-term goal. Besides, now that I'm semi-retired and living on a relatively fixed income, it's a method of incremental saving that never breaks the bank.

Does It Work?

I think my little system works just grand, but ultimately you'll be the judge. Just after last Christmas, my wife announced that her heart's desire was to own a new DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera). Knowing the things were brutally expensive but also knowing that prices would be dropping as the holidays approached this year, I kicked my nickel and dime saving strategy into high gear. On her birthday, I presented her with a quintet of "General Grants." On our wedding anniversary, I presented her with five more. And in a few weeks, just before Santa begins waxing the runners on his sleigh, I'll present her with the balance of the $750 she'll need to purchase the camera of her dreams.

Now, in truth, I'm still gifting her with $750. There's no getting around that. But by diligently saving relatively tiny amounts on a consistent basis, I'll hardly miss the money. Will this system work for you? Well, I couldn't say for certain, but you'd be a fool not to try it for yourself. So thanks, Uncle Mike!

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