Last week as I was walking into a meeting I found a $20 bill on the ground. A windfall! It was the most exciting thing to happen to me all day.
Now, like any good pf blogger, my first thought was that the universe had given me a little boost to my savings. But to be totally honest, I did spend $11. I got two drinks at a bar with my boyfriend and a friend from out of town later that night. The remaining $9 of my windfall, however, went into my savings account.
Why put $9 into my savings account?
I mean, why not spend the entire $20? It was free money. I found it. I didn’t have to work for it. For someone who has been struggling so much recently with being overworked and trying to do everything at once, this was like a spending gift from the gods. I hardly spend any money and what’s more, I hardly make any money.
And at this point, it was only $9. I’d already spent most it. What was really the point of saving the rest of it?
Because $9 matters. Every dollar that put into your savings or your investments matters. Especially when it comes from something like a bonus or the ground! That money is taking you one step closer to your ultimate goal, whatever that might be. Trip to Italy? Fully funded emergency fund? Early retirement? Every little bit matters. Think of it as planting seeds for your future.
When I was paying off debt on my paltry salary I would routinely transfer $10 and $25 amounts to the account I paid through. I was determined to pay off my debt ASAP and that extra $25 mattered. Small amounts add up quickly. Take a month like last April. I paid off $4,100 in debt in that month alone. On an annual salary of $30,000.
I was able to make such a dent in my debt that month by adding together small amounts. I took money from each paycheck I was getting and combined the relatively small amounts together to come up with a pretty large one. This strategy worked so well I ended up paying off my debt seven months ahead of schedule!
People tend to think that if they can’t make monstrous changes to their money or their lives, small things don’t matter. If they can’t run a marathon, it doesn’t matter that they can run three miles. If they can’t save $10,000 in a year, it doesn’t matter that they could do an extra $100 a month.
That’s the wrong mindset. Little things become big things. Small steps count. You have to start somewhere, even if it’s the smallest start. You don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, I can guarantee that you won’t be able to. Just making one commitment or changing one habit will open you up to other things that can change your life. The seeds you plant today will be the flowers you see tomorrow.
So yes, I absolutely will save $9. That $9 is taking me one small step forward. My habit of saving any ‘extra’ money is moving me forward. Putting small things together to create a big one is taking me to where I want to be.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.
7 Replies to “Why I Put $9 Into My Savings Account”
Love it! One of my plans for paying off student debt (starting this month) is to throw 100% of my “extra” earnings each month at the loans, in addition to a predetermined monthly payment, which will probably be $1000. So if I find $5 on the ground and make $40 in a research study during February, my loan payment that month will be $1045. At least, that’s my plan right now. 😉
Great plan! That’s exactly what I did. I sold books, clothes, I cut ruthlessly everywhere and it all went to my debt. I also recommend making more than one payment a month. Don’t let money just sit in your checking account- put it towards debt right away! I used to make 5 payments a month regularly.
Wow, 5 payments! I really need to look into that whole situation of how to make extra payments on the principal and not the interest…if you have any advice, I’d be interested to hear it. Either way, I have a lot of web research I need to do!
We’re dealing with this right now with our mortgage servicer, which has to be the worst one in the world. We make lots of extra payments, and they *always* take interest out of it, even after we click “principle payment.” So we have to watch them like hawks, and always end up having to call to fix their mistakes, which gets exhausting. So, in our case, rather than make frequent extra payments, we pool funds and then make like an extra quarterly payment. BUT, if you get a student loan servicer who actually has their act together and can handle a simple thing like an extra principle payment, then I totally agree with making frequent payments. It feels SO good to see those numbers notch down!
And Kara — It is lame to say I’m proud of you for spending $11 of that $20 you found? 😉 I know that must have been tough, but I’m glad you spent some of it on quality time with people whose company you enjoy!
Hahaha, it’s not lame! I felt good about it too. Bummer about your mortgage lender! As much as my loans sucked in other ways, it was super easy to make payments and they wrapped everything up well too. That made crushing them much, much easier.
I think that’s awesome. I’m trying to learn the value of small wins myself right now; I’ve always been a big picture person but somehow never really “got” how the little things add up to make the big picture, you know? $9 saved is $9 saved, no matter what.
I’ve found the mantra ‘small things become big things’ to be so helpful. Sometimes you can’t make the big moves you want, but you can take small steps in that direction!