The $5 Bill Savings Plan

Simple living savings with five dollar bills

As I posted previously, one of the painless ways I save money is by emptying the coins from my wallet into a container each night. Periodically, we empty the coins and deposit them in my son’s credit union account, and this year — after about five years of collecting coins — he was able to buy his first $500 certificate of deposit (CD).  We did the same thing with our daughter and purchased her college computer with the savings we accumulated from loose change.

Last month I tried a new tip that I had read on several blogs, of removing and saving $5 bills whenever one lands in my wallet. What I’ve discovered is that this practice is as simple and painless as saving spare change. I have an envelope in a drawer where I keep the bills, and after a month I’ve accumulated $35 that I’ll deposit in a high-yield savings account. If I average about $35 a month, in a year I’ll have accumulated $420 plus interest. Again — it’s not a huge amount, but we all know that little amounts grow into significant amounts with persistence and consistency.

So far I really like the Five Dollar Bill Savings Plan. Do you have any simple ways to save money? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

28 comments to The $5 Bill Savings Plan

  • My husband and I do the same thing with coins. We always use the money we cash in to go on nice dates. I’m liking the $5 plan though, and may have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love that idea! I rarely have cash on hand, but this is a great way to save a little more than just the spare change. I’ll have to try this tip. Thanks!
    Little House recently posted..Savings Account Non-Existent Try a New Approach

  • That is a great idea – unfortunately i’d end up saving nothing through that because I never carry cash. My best savings strategy is the automatic transfer – I do 3 auto transfers to some accounts a few times a month, and they are just built into my budget. Every time I want to increase one, I lower another one.
    Jeff @ Sustainable life blog recently posted..Cheap Summer Vacation Series- Yellowstone National Park

  • We use a large juice jar to save up coins – I hadn’t heard about the $5 bills though – that’s a great idea. We may have to give that a go.

    • Linda

      Yes! It’s work… I have been saving my $5 over a year now. God gave me this idea about two years ago, but I wasn’t seriou at first. Then God challenge me to collect 100 $5 bills that will equal to 500.00. I have over 100 $5 bills I am excited! Also I save coins as well, but it’s works.

  • Drew

    We were saving coins for a while but then it never really added up. I want to start using cash and doing it again to see if we can save more. I like the $5 plan though that will get us going faster. My easy way is to cut back on monthly bills and then put that savings into savings. Like we cancelled cable so I put that $80 a month in savings like I am still paying the bill. I am looking into doing that with our phones now too, cutting the land line and just using cell phone and even finding a cheaper cell phone plan (looking at straight talk from walmart which is only $30 a month) so then I would put that $30 for land line plus $30 for cell savings into savings account every month. Do the same with coupons or whatever you “saved” at the bottom of your receipt at the grocery store and it really adds up quickly.

  • Marie Franklin

    I am the original author of a column on my habit of saving five dollar bills. The story first ran in the Boston Globe in 2008. I’ve been saving each and every $5 that passes through my hands now for 7 years and I’ve put away $20,000 using this method.

  • I love it. I just started saving and already have over $40.00. I save every $5 I get. I’m saving for a vacation, or an unexpected emergency.

  • My husband and I just began about 8 weeks ago saving $5 bills and we have over $300 already. I never thought I would be so excited to receive a $5 bill in change from anywhere. It immediately goes into a special spot in my wallet, then when I get home, into a zip bag. At first people laughed at us when we told them about it, but look who’s laughing now!

  • My husband and I also save our change, we collected different size wine glass jugs for each of the silver coins. Then at the end of the year we roll them, and trade them into the bank (pays for christmas :) I deffinatelty am going to do the five dollar plan. It seems like a great way to save up, but won’t hurt your pocket if you do not have it.
    Tamara recently posted..We Have a Winner

  • warren

    we do the same, put all coins from the day into a pot and empty them once for summer holiday and once for christmas shopping. my mom did this as well. now $1 and $2 also come in coins so the savings come much faster. we also do a $5 savings, but it is $5 a day. finally each month we put the child allowance into the children’s savings account for when they are 18. however even with this saving we still don’t own a yacht ;o)

  • Awesome idea! I’ll definitely be trying this!
    Kate recently posted..Declutter by Donating!

  • [...] of the “Five Dollar Savings Plan”? If not, check it out on Happy Simple Living’s blog and read up. Basically, you just save every $5 that you acquire. Seems pretty [...]

  • Heather

    I never spend my change or my $1 bills, unless it’s for a tip or at yard sales. Also, when I am balancing my checkbook I round up to the next dollar amount, so if I wrote the check for $4.23 I would deduct $5. This works for debit card transactions also. When I deposit a check I don’t add in the change. It is amazing how fast this all adds up without any effort. It’s also nice to have a little cushion for those times that there is an error in balancing.

  • Jenna

    This is awesome! I first saw this on Pinterest and decided I had to do it! I’m going to go collect all my 5$ bills now! Yay!!
    I’ve also been saving my coins for a few months and have about 20$. So exciting!
    Thank you for posting this idea!!! :D

  • Denise

    The $5 saving plan is a blessed awesome savings plan. This is my 3rd year saving $5 bills. Today I deposited over $1700 (from one year $5 bill savings) into my CD account which I opened in 2010 when my first $5 bill savings were deposited. As of today, I have saved and deposited over $5000 in $5 bills into my Smart 30 CD account. Enjoy the journey!

  • Kyle

    The first time I did the $5 bill savings, I saved $1,500 which I used towards a brick patio. I recently started in mid July and already have $715.oo. This time, whatever I save in change a month, I match it in cash. So if I have $20 in change, I add a $20 bill to my $5 bills each month. It adds up!

  • [...] is also a variant of this with $5 bills… once I master the baby step of $1 bills, I’m going to try to include both $1s and [...]

  • I love this idea! Will start implementing today!

  • Lisa

    I have done the $5 Savings plan off and on for years however I have done it a little differently. My plan is with 5′s AND 10′s, I make a consious effort to always carry cash with me and make my purchases with cash instead of a debit or credit card therefore I most certainly will get change. Also, if I am making a purchase less than $5 for instance, I NEVER use that $5 or $10 I may have in my wallet, I will use a $20 then I receive a 10 and a 5 for change. I keep an envelope in my console in my car to put the bills in so I am not tempted and then I also have a place at home to hold the stash as well. Truly we never will miss that $5 or $10 and saving both adds up so fast you won’t beleive it especially if you are paying cash for everything. Try it, your trip to Maui will come even quicker :)

  • I AM DOING THE FIVE DOLLAR PLAN AND IT WORKS! I ALSO KEEP A 50.00 BILL IN MY WALLET. I AM REACHING MY GOAL. IT’S GREAT.

  • bert

    I have been saving $5 bills for the last six or so months. I have accumulated quite a bit which I in turn deposit into a savings account.

  • Debbie

    I think thats a great idea. My husband and I do office cleaning for work and save all the cans and bottles from our accounts, then cash them in 2x a week, we get on average $80.00 a month, I was using it for coffee and such but now I think it would be better to put it in our savings account.

  • ginger

    This works for me and I can save 2-3 paychecks per year. I call it: delayed gratification. If you get paid every 7-14 or 30 days….delay your pay (pretend you don’t have it) for just 1 day per week. Example–you get paid on Friday. Pretend you don’t get paid till Saturday. You have saved a day’s pay. The next week, pretend you get paid on Sunday. The next week, Monday, etc. At 1-3 points during the year, you will have your hands on 2 paychecks, and will only need one to pay bills. I pay for Christmas and vacation like this. Sounds odd, but it will work!

  • Susan

    Seven years ago I became a widow. While my husband lived, he would come home from work and place all change but $2 in quarters (for vending machine drinks the next day) in an old 5 gallon water jug. Each year we would go on vacation on this savings. Since his passing it’s been difficult to put money away. I have used the $5 method for a little over a year. The savings amount to about $100 a month for me. Although, I do mostly deal in cash, my income is about $1,300-1,500 a month now. So it’s doable even for those without a lot of money. Every time I get a $5 back, I share the ‘value of $5′ with the cashier and anyone nearby. Several people at stores I frequent have tried it and told me thank you. Last year I paid for a crown on a tooth with the savings…something I may not have been able to afford otherwise. Whatever method works for you whether it be in cash or having your credit card charges round up the change amount to the next dollar and put that in savings, go for it, most will not miss the difference. Although, sometimes when down to my last $10 or 20, I’m just hoping they don’t give me a $5, lol.

  • Nik

    I am late to the $5 savings plan, but not late to saving. I have been doing this with $1 bills. And in the past six months, I have managed to save $823 dollars…all in $1 dollar bills. My three year old daughter thanks I’m rich…lol…I on the other hand am showing her that saving can be fun. I also do this with my spare change, so whatever is returned to me after a purchase and it falls in the $1 dollar and spare change category, it’s saved. But I like this $5 dollar savings plan. I think that I will start this on the first of next month. Wish me luck.

  • Jessie

    Actually I do 1 week $1, 2 week $2 and so on and that leads to a saving of $1,378… What I did was I got a calender and and label each week $1, $2, and so on… Then I take what the total amount of saving that would have been for that whole month. Then I would take that amount and divide it by 2 because I get paid bi-weekly and see how much I need to put away per paycheck. Then someone suggested me to use cash when I buy my lunch stuff and put the dollar bills in an envelope and the lose change in the jar. The person explained to me that the loose change is the “interest” and the dollar bills will help build up the savings. So far it is doable for me and if I get any extra cash this year I will put it toward that savings plan…. plus holiday pay because of the holidays throughout the year is an extra boost in this savings plan. Plus my tax refund check will also add on to that savings plan as well….

    Plus when I go shopping, I’ll use coupons and buy stuff on clearance when I see what I have saved during that trip I’ll put that money away like I have “spent” it. For example, today I bought clearance stuff and my savings was a total of $8.00 plus I found $0.11 in the parking lot. So when I got home I put $8.00 in the envelope and the $0.11 in the jar EASY!!!!

    Plus doing a list of needs vs wants and also because of the internet to see what I can do for free on the internet. Also I make my own homemade bread and since I can make 4 loaves of bread in just 1 lb of flour. So everytime I make bread I’ll put $2.00 aside because I would have used that $2.00 on store bought bread anyways. Now I’m making my homemade pasta when I want spaghetti and that is an extra $1 or $2 saved. That goes in the envelope…. Plus I stop buying pop and stop drinking pop so an extra $3 is saved that goes in the envelope and WHOA it all adds up to alot of money saved :)…..

    Just saying… It is doable, it takes time, patience, and creativity….

  • I have started this plan with an additional slight twist to it. Every time I go to the grocery store I ask always pay with my debit card, so i ask for $5 in cash back to add to this savings plan. So far I’ve accumulated an additional $100!
    Sharon recently posted..Death to New Year’s Resolutions and How to Set Goals

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