Ask the Readers: Is a Penny Saved Really a Penny Earned?

By Linsey Knerl on 15 September 2009 (Updated 21 September 2009) 96 comments
Photo: Lee Nachtigal

********The winners of the $10 Amazon Gift Card are:

"I think there are a lot of factors that complicate the equation. Sometimes saving a penny "costs" you more than earning a penny: for example, if you spend an hour searching the internet to save $10 on piece of electronic gadgetry, you could have very likely theoretically done something in that time to earn more than $10. But in other ways, earning a penny to spend on something "costs" more than saving a penny by not spending that money: comparing working an extra hour to pay for some unnecessary piece of future landfill-fodder versus reining in consumption and just not buying it.

Ideally, you should enjoy earning the pennies you earn (find a way to get paid to do thinks you enjoy) and enjoy saving the pennies you save (focus on the savings opportunities that bring you more than just monetary benefits)." 

  • Tweet from @Krutan - "Saving is a mindset. If you start small w/ picking up change & skipping lattes, it will change ur habits enough to matter" 

You hear it all the time: A penny found here, is one you don't have to earn somewhere else. But with all the talks of skipping lattes to create huge financial gains down the road, there are skeptics who argue that all this penny-pinching is having a minimal effect on our long-term savings—and a burdensome effect on our time and stress levels.

What is your opinion? Do you pick up pennies where they fall? Do you believe in the Latte Factor? Would you rather save money with single, large actions (like a house or a car)? Or do you fall somewhere in between?

Share your thought here in our comment thread, and you'll be entered to win one of two $10 Amazon giveaways. That's a significant amount for many (each equivalent to bending over and scooping up one thousand grimy pennies from the street.) For others, it's just a drop in the bucket—but you can also pass it on to charity, if you feel so inclined!

Other great reading includes articles by The Writer's Coin, Bean Counter Blog, and Mr. Cheap Stuff.

 

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Thursday, September 17th at 11:59 am CST. Winners will be announced after September 17th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

Good luck! 

 

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Guest's picture
jamie g

I think the saying is true, but everyone has to find the right balance of saving and earning. I tend to hoard money and have a hard time enjoying the money I spend on leisure purchases without feeling guilty, so for me a penny spent and enjoyed is also a penny earned.

Also, I take another interpretation from this saying: It's HARD to save money, but if you manage to save it, you've EARNED it.

Guest's picture
Amy

I am very conscious of my spending and sometimes I do want to blow money on silly things that are wasteful, but I always remember that there are bigger things to save for--vacations and retirement. Sure, I could go out to eat every day, but it would take that much longer to save up for all the vacations that I want to take and would take away from my retirement savings as well. I am having fun along the way (vacations), so I don't feel deprived or stressed when I choose not to spend money on frivolous things now.

Guest's picture

If we're literally talking about saving pennies, then we should forget about it. There are way too many penny pinchers who miss sight of the fact that the time spent saving money is much more valuable than the actual money saved.

A fun example is a person who drives 30 miles to save 10 cents a gallon in gasoline. Makes no sense, but you will see lines as long as day in the papers when a new gasoline holds this promotion.

Given we'll be experiencing massive inflation in the coming years due to government spending, we should upgrade the term to "Big Bucks Saved, Is Big Bucks Earned!" Now that should get folks motivated!

Guest's picture
Guest

Sorry, but your comment makes little sense. Big inflation means spend now! For example if I save $100 today, and can buy $1 loaves of bread, then I have 100 loaves worth of money. Then when inflation drives the prices up 5% my loaves are 1.05 and my savings buys 95 loaves. I've lost 5 loaves of buying power by holding my cash during inflation. Of course this depends on bank interest rates or return rates on invested dollars etc.

Guest's picture
MikeTM

I always pick up pennies I see on the ground. I think its important to do the small things, but then I'm still in college, and have never had the chance to spend large amounts that I can make big changes in.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

I think there are a lot of factors that complicate the equation. Sometimes saving a penny "costs" you more than earning a penny: for example, if you spend an hour searching the internet to save $10 on piece of electronic gadgetry, you could have very likely theoretically done something in that time to earn more than $10. But in other ways, earning a penny to spend on something "costs" more than saving a penny by not spending that money: comparing working an extra hour to pay for some unnecessary piece of future landfill-fodder versus reining in consumption and just not buying it.

Ideally, you should enjoy earning the pennies you earn (find a way to get paid to do thinks you enjoy) and enjoy saving the pennies you save (focus on the savings opportunities that bring you more than just monetary benefits).

Guest's picture
Chris

A penny saved is about 1.33 pennies earned, before taxes. Or you can think of it this way: considering the national savings rate is currently 5%, a penny saved is 20 pennies earned.

Guest's picture
kate

Yes I pick up pennies and all other cash when I'm out and about. It adds up to a small amount, usually the price of a dinner out every year.

Guest's picture
Kristen

Saving your pennies is worth it, especially if you think of it as a game. I put all the coins in a jar, then take it to Coinstar in exchange for Amazon gift card, which I'll use for Christmas shopping.

Guest's picture
Alyssa

I don't pick up pennies, but I do clip coupons if they are at least 25 cents because I would pick up a quarter.

On lattes - My husband and I go to "Coffee Friday" each Friday morning at our favorite coffee shop to kick off the weekend. It is expensive compared to coffee brewed at home. As a result there is something in the Latte Factor, but is $10 for Coffee Friday going to save us a ton of money? Maybe it would if it were a daily occurrence, but we have lattes as a treat.

Overall I prefer to keep large expenses low and try to save on daily expenses. That combination keeps me from sweating the credit card statements.

Guest's picture
pablo

Save tons of pennies by eating fast food from $1 menu.

Guest's picture
Odograph

I used to pick up pennies, but buy Porsches. I think I've normalized my nonsense a bit over the years.

That said, I knew a guy (a gambler) who would not pick up tails-up pennies, bad luck. For some reason that rubbed off. Maybe I think it's a cheap superstition, at 1 cent.

Guest's picture
Rookeealding

I do pick up pennies, but I don't trace where it goes after it goes into my pocket. Did I use it when I needed the tax and only had bills? In that case I didn't break a bill. Did I place it in a charity box? I didn't save anything but It made be feel better is that worth something to me? Did I plunk it into a jar ( in my case my big green crayon) and accumulate it with other change which I then use to get more bills?

Is a penny saved a penny earned,I'd it depends on what it eventually does afterword doesn't it?

Hate to be too deep, but it's sort of like saving someones life, was it worth it? There is no way to know.

As for the coffee, I don't drink it, I've never really cared for it, so I haven't "saved" any money from that.

Collecting change is sort of like tricking yourself into buying something later. Granted you could have just given the cashier eighty-five cents when they asked instead of breaking a dollar. But then you wouldn't have as much change later to get those few extra dollars for a trip, or a gift card.

Guest's picture

I don't sweat the pennies, I'll act on quarters, and I'll go out of my way for dollars. There is a point where the effort outweighs the savings.

Guest's picture
Scottishklompen

I once paid an entire phone bill in pennies that i picked up around school. Yep, $20 in pennies. Money that i didn't have, until I started thinking small. One penny doesn't seem like much, until you add that to a bunch more pennies. It adds up fast. same with coupons. Saving 50 cents doesn't seem like much, until you add them all together and save $36 on your grocery bill (a 16% savings total). I'm all for saving small, but don't get carried away. You still need a life.

Guest's picture
sbm

I pick up change...but it never feels "earned."

Guest's picture
Shannon

The latte factor is like some PeeWee Herman button that drives me insane every time I hear it. My whole brain going "AHHHHHH". The assumption that everyone is spending $5 a day on some useless habit that they are unaware of. That I need to get rid of everything in my life so I can retire rich. Balance people.

I point out pennies to whichever child I happen to be with. To a child, a penny found is the highlight of the day.

Guest's picture
martha in mobile

is to note my upcoming needs and desires and then keep an eye out for savings on that item. If you watch and wait, you get a sense of the retail price, a good price and a great price. And a good place to watch is the Wise Bread deals. That's where I found a very inexpensive 15gbyte flash drive, a great computer backpack, and a pair of simple shoes for way cheap.

I do pick up pennies and other coins. It's a way to remind myself to be humble -- who am I to be too proud to pick up a penny?

Guest's picture
Connie

I remember the first time I read Automatic Millionaire I just about fell off my chair when he used a lady from the audience to illustrate his point. She spent 22 dollars or something, it was only lunch.

For me the latte factor would be about 1.65 (size of a large coffee at tim hortons) and it would significantly affect my life to remove it.

BUT I will pick up a penny if I see one and I will drive a rusted out, piece of poop, 1985 car to save that stupid 300-500 car payment. I think everyone has to evaluate what part of their life they would be willing to save in, and then evaluate whether that would be enough to save the amount that they want to save.

Guest's picture
Katie R

I get a thrill every time I find a penny on the ground. Yes, I know that pennies take a looong time to add up, but money is money. I feel special and sharp-eyed when I find a forlorn penny. And who knows, maybe it's lucky :)

Guest's picture
gime

I think of it as, a penny earned on something that I rather not spend money on (car, socks, or cell phone) is a penny I can spend on something I want (vacation, diner out, or clothes).

Guest's picture
PDXCourtney

I do not make a habit of picking up grimy pennies when I see them. I just prefer to not have grimy hands and pockets as a result!

Overall, I think sweating the small stuff is fantastic practice for sweating the larger stuff. After all, if I research several websites looking for the best price on a small item, won't that carry over when I'm looking for a fridge, car or house? Also, I've made some surprising discoveries, finding things on sites I wasn't expecting (gallon of castille soap at Target, anyone?).

At my point in the game of life in the very small potatoes garden, I don't have a huge amount of big stuff to sweat. I can tell you though, I'll be ready to save on it!

Guest's picture
Jonathan

I pick pennies up. Why? Gratitude to the universe for abundance. It is the environmental thing to do in keeping my local environment clean. Because every little bit helps.

Guest's picture
Janet

I personally believe a penny saved is more than a penny earned.
Since in order to earn a penny and spend have that penny to spend you have to have earned more than one penny because you have to pay tax on what you earn and you have cost associated with getting to an from work and being at work like work clothes and lunches. The penny saved is one that was earned after tax dollars so it is more than one penny earned. Now let's just say for example I walk past a penny and pick it up is that penny more valuable than the penny I had to earn. In my opinion it is.
I have been couponing and skrimping and saving my pennies for years in the mean time other folks told me what I was doing was not worth my time, that it was a waste, that it was such small amounts that it would never add up to anything well 25 years of saving my pennies have added up to more retirement cash than all of my friends and many of them earn more at their day jobs than I do. So I personally think that I am right a penny saved is worth a penny plus a tiny percent of an additional penny!

Guest's picture
neverland~

saving is good, but without earning, you won't be able to saving any money.

Guest's picture
stefanie

I do think a penny saved is a penny earned - when I put a few extra pennies or dollars from here and there into my savings account, I end up making more money from the interest on the account. I am not super stingy with my money, but I want to make sure it goes as far as it possibly can - I don't want to waste it on something I feel isn't important.

Guest's picture
Wordy=gurdy

To me, a penny saved is worth the price until I exhaust myself saving a penny. Then, somehow, it costs me a dime to get revived.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'll buy cheaper versions of items at the grocery store or just go without. Most of the time, if you go without something for awhile or substitute, you find that you never miss it.

Guest's picture

I think picking up pennies is more of an obsession for me... I have a *really* hard time not doing it, and will only pass them up if I'm in danger of being run over by doing so. (I probably missed out on more than a few dollars in high school this way, but I would have been trampled.)

I keep all of my nickels, dimes and quarters in one bank, and I have a huge plastic jug from some old apple juice to house all of my pennies... The ~1 gallon jug is probably around 80% full, ALL pennies. I'm dreading the day I have to go to a bank and give them all up... I'm somehow attached to the money nobody else wants. I relate somehow, I guess? I dunno, but I love my pennies.

Guest's picture
Karen604

In 6 months 35 kids raised $2400 in spare change for their theater in HS.

Guest's picture
FrugalNYC

Change definitely matters. Look at Bank Of America and their keep the change advertising campaign. Would they spend all that money to advertise something that would not make a difference for their bottom line?

I usually pick up change if I see it, someone else would if I don't. On occasion, if there is too much foot traffic or it is inconvenient in other ways, I would avoid it.

May we all "change" for the better :)

Guest's picture
Kerrie

I'm someone who falls in the middle. I'm very frugal but sometimes I just feel like its worth it to spend the cash, even if the items aren't technically 'necessary'.

A good example: My vaccum cleaner has been broken for a while. As I only have two small rugs to vaccuum, I've just been sweeping them clean. But I have a cat and cat hair has added up and now I feel awful every time I look at them.
I also have old dish towels that are ten years old. yes, they're still perfectly usable, but they are stained and worn and I'm embarassed for others to see them.

This morning I took $85 out of the bank and bought new dishtowels and a small vacuum cleaner.
I could have gotten by without spending the money and I'm sure it would have been a great thing to put towards another bill, but..... When I walk into my kitchen and see my shiny new dishtowels I smile, and my allergies seem to be minimized by the fact that my rugs are now super clean instead of marginally clean.

It may have been money i could have saved, but I'm so very glad I spent it!!

Guest's picture
Rachel S

The big ticket savings steps are definitely more exciting and dramatic, but there are only so many you can do, whereas with penny-pinching techniques you can usually find another one to add to the list if you want to increase the effect.

Large one-off actions like selling a car etc can also have the downside of being treated (and acting) like a windfall income, rather than regular savings, as in they only last so long, and you often get most or all the money saved as a lump sum, which takes discipline to handle correctly. They also usually have a much greater effect on day-to-day life, making them harder.

The slowly but surely approach has always appealed to me - as a child I used to enjoy watching containers fill up with rain a drop at a time - I think personality has a lot to do with it.

Guest's picture
Michael

At least that's what some people say. I firmly believe that "a penny saved is a penny earned". Once you start saving those pennies somewhere, in a jar, coffee can, unused shoe or whatever have you, they really start adding up! On the other hand, if you leave that penny on the ground or buy that latte' you are losing money.... which by the way...is the opposite of earning. just my 2 cents.

Guest's picture
GT0163C

I'm in the middle. I do a lot of the small things and many of the big things but I also do spend on some less practical things.
I pick up change I see lying on the ground. I clip coupons. I drink water at restaurants. I shop sales. I did a lot of research before buying my car and won't make major purchases without more research than most people thing is possible.
But I also buy books (at the used book store) rather than using the library, subscribe to a few comic books and enjoy ice cream and cookies bought from those horribly overpriced stores at the mall. They're little indulgences that I enjoy on occasion (well, roughly monthly with the comic books). I could save that money, but the joy that the "frivolous stuff" brings me is worth it to me.

Guest's picture
Guest

Penny pinching helps but I don't think it adds much to long-term savings IF you have are a homeowner. Every time I think I've got a good emergency fund built up, I find out I have a rotten wall in the shower ... or my water heater blows up ... or I need a new A/C unit. Sigh. At least I can pay for those repairs when I need to and don't have to go into debt. But I can't seem to really save to get ahead.

Guest's picture

I definitely believe in that. I don't go crazy trying to pick up pennies or save tiny bits of cash, but it does make enough of a difference - it's that "get rich slowly" mentality.

Guest's picture

Assuming there is no opportunity cost and/or externalities (e.g., more time, harder work, side effect to you or others), penny saved is penny earned.

Guest's picture
mongolian

I think big ticket purchases deserve a level of due diligence in terms of research, comparison shopping, questioning whether it's a real need, etc. A lot of money can be saved there and these purchases tend to stay with you so you want to do your homework. It's important to be mindful when it comes to small items, too, e.g. calculating and comparing unit prices in the grocery store (which also keeps your brain sharp!), but too much of it wastes time. Everyone is different, but I am one of those people who gets very stressed out when I'm late for an appointment or if I feel like I've been running at 100% all day. I need personal time. Spending a few extra bucks on a toll road so that I can get where I'm going faster, or paying for a convenient gym membership near work, or any number of small things that make my quality of life better are worth it for me.

Guest's picture
Victoria

Yes I pick up pennies, My Grandmother used to call them pennies from heaven because if you found one someone deceased was thinking of you!! So now every time I find one I know shes thinking of me. My point is its only money the important thing is how you view & relate to it. I ask myself if I need or want on discresenary objects. I don't want to just buy junk & fill up the local land fill.

Guest's picture
Guest

Found change I pick-up (even broken pennies) and donate to a local animal shelter. I walk a lot and am amazed at what I find.

Money saved on small items (e.g. I drink soda--diet caffinefree soda-- and buy the store brand instead of a name brand or about 77 cents per 2 liters vs 1.49) is accumulated and when enough is collected (25 dollars), it is put into a DRIP stock.

The trick with the small amounts of money saved is to make sure that the small savings are noted, summed, and then actually put to a desired use.

(If this post wins the random draw, please donate any prize value to the Prison Book Program or any prison library.)

Guest's picture
Sally

I like rolling loose change.

Guest's picture
Mariel Martinez

This question makes me remember the human nature. Some people would spend so much time collecting pennies from the ground, and looking down, and stop living life because they want to find the small coins, while, they miss the sky, they miss the moment.

It is true, pennies can be a simbol of small things that happen, and the small things, at the end can count for a big thing... But, I do not know for sure...

Let´s say that people trow away coins in the fountains... If someone would not clean the fountains, then, the fountains and their beauty would be lost... It´s kind of like the same concept.

So, I would rather say that, a penny that is placed in a specific location, and attracts many other pennies to the same exact location (say a fountain, a wallet, a jar...) would come out as a big amount later on (which can still steal beauty at the moment/place)... But, if you have to spend TIME looking around, at the floor or a messy place, then, no matter how much is the nominal value of the coin (unless it´s made of gold and silver and diamonds and it is big) then, YOU ACTUALLY LOST TIME, AND THAT IS A EXTREMELY BIG LOST, WHICH, YOU MAY NEVER, NEVER, EVER RECOVER FROM.

Guest's picture
Tammy S

While I will pick up coins I find, I don't go out of my way to look for them. I do believe in saving both on the big things as well as the small wherever I can. And all of our "found" change goes straight into savings. Thankfully we don't have any credit card debt!

Guest's picture
Kelly

Saving is a mindset. Saving change and skipping lattes starts you on the right path. In and of themselves they're not going to be too helpful, but if you start small and see success it leads you to save more, cut out more excess and ultimately you'll see a much larger payout.

Guest's picture
Kelli

I'm all about picking up pennies off the ground. I do pretty well with saving on the little things. My vice is eating out; I'd probably eat out every day if I could. But since I know that would be unwise for my wallet and for my health I refrain.

Guest's picture
mylegs

I pick up pennies, unless they're nasty. But I don't do it to "save" more. I do think that my expenses are due to eating out/latte factor. SO, every little bit helps.

Guest's picture
Ellen

My best strategy for saving is to motivate yourself to exercise for free (or cheap). I run outside everyday right past the big windows of a few gyms full of people on treadmills. I save somewhere between $40-$150 per month by cutting that cost ($480-$1800 per year). Plus, whenever I see a quarter, dime, nickel, or even penny on the sidewalk, I pick it up. I figure it adds up to roughly a penny for every mile I run - which is excellent motivation for me to keep running and keep saving!

Guest's picture
Paul

The idea of a penny saved is a penny earned can be seen in two ways. On the one hand is the penny pincher, who would never go out to have a cup of coffee with a friend. There are times when I fall into that camp, but it's never very fun or comfortable. (Right now I'm fuming over the cost of Cub Scout Uniforms. A friend's sister sent her son's old uniform, but it's the tan Boy Scout one, not the blue Cub Scout one they're supposed to have. I keep telling my son that the uniform doesn't matter . . .) I like to see picking up pennies on the street as symbolic of letting money flow into my life. If you're dying of thirst, even a slow drip of water is a welcome relief. When we feel we have plenty, should we ignore the small flows? I don't think so. I pick up pennies on the street, and I use a price book for grocery shopping. I don't, however, obsess over saving every little cent on a purchase. Generally, I just try to be happy with what I have.

Guest's picture
Paul

I would add that, since we got rid of our car, we have found two $100 bills blowing along the street on two separate occasions, not to mention a variety of smaller bills. It does pay to slow down.

Guest's picture
Dan

I save on both the little and big things you mentioned in the post. For example, I bought my truck used for cash....thus, I spent $7000 on a truck instead of $30000+ (for a new vehicle) and paying in cash, I didn't take out a loan (and pay interest).

On the small things, I try to save by waiting for sales or making them myself (for example: I brown bag my lunch everyday).

I'll pick up a penny on the ground too, as long as it isn't really dirty. I put all the change I acquire during the year (found money, change from cash transactions, etc) in a jar and take it out at Christmas. I usually have an extra $30-$50 to put towards gifts or a nice dinner with my girlfriend.

Guest's picture
Pamela

I am a penny saver -- keep them in a jar and then take to the grocery store to convert to a gift card of some sort in the money changer machine.

Not a good latte saver -- bad, bad habit I have that I am trying to break. Just took the *latte factor* quiz and was shocked to see what I could be saving each week!

Guest's picture
Sarah

Sure it is. That's why I started using a 30-day list for purchases I want to make. Surprisingly, many of the products were not treats, but reusable items that would save me money in the long run (nice lace hankies, a tiffin tin for lunch, etc.)

Guest's picture
Emily

I tend to always save, save, save, but sometimes it backfires. I won't justify spending $15 on take out, but I'll buy a $100 dress. Go figure.

Guest's picture

I penny saved is a penny earned. You earned that penny in the first place. Why shoud you let go of it frivolousy?

Guest's picture
steig

I pick up pennies because they are made by someone -- it seems disrespectful to let them lie, or to sweep them up and not take the time to pick out the pennies. My son recently found a $20 that had been run over by a lawnmower -- he taped it together (minus a piece or two) and the bank exchanged it.

I try to do things as cheaply as I can where I can. I drive old cars, I find out when "pay what you can" nights are at local theaters, I search for places to eat out that are cheap but interesting (no mc d's for me) using yelp.com, I have learned how to do many home remodeling tasks to avoid paying top labor dollar.

I think the real power is in earning. Save where you can, but spend quality time thinking how you could earn more. Do you need to upgrade your education? Do you need to change jobs? Do you need to sell yourself better at your present job? Is there something you know how to do that other people would pay for? Think about it and get going.

It has been demoralizing to see a huge amount of equity in real estate just go away. But my hard work and sweat will eventually pay off. I am taking a long term view on that.

Guest's picture
Guest

Watch the pennies and the dollars will follow.

Guest's picture
thriftymom

I don't recall if i ever picked up pennies. Maybe i never came accross any (improbably i know!) or they never caught my fleeting attention (more likely scenario). But I do recall picking up nickles and dimes. I just piked up a dime the other day in the laundary room of our apartment building. I do see quarters on the washer as well sometimes, but I don't take them as they were probably left by someone waiting to do their laundary. But I will take the dimes or nickles on the unfinished floor as they don't fit in the coin slots on the washer.

Guest's picture
Diasdiem

The reason some people don't is that the benefits are stretched over such a long period of time that the immediate effects seem very small. If you only buy one or two things at the grocery store, you don't really see much difference in saving a $.50 or a dollar or so by buying the store brand instead of name brand. But if you make a gigantic grocery run, you'll see the savings then. Same with the latte factor. Saving $3 or $4 a day doesn't seem like much. It's like someone giving you $3 every day. If you instead look at it like someone giving you back $100 every month, or $1200 every year, it's a lot easier to see the benefit. Every little bit helps. I donate plasma twice a week, for $15-20 each time. It might not seem like a lot for an hour and a half of my time, especially after work when I'm eager to get home, but at the end of the month it's a welcome bonus. And I always pick up pennies.

Guest's picture
Mary

I always pick up pennies, nickles dimes whatever!! Its money I didnt have 2 seconds ago!

We used to live in a state with a can/bottle deposit. I used to tell my child "there's another nickle" and point to a can & we'd pick it up & add it to our return barrel. When it was time to take that barrel to get the cash we would go directly to the bank afterwards and make a deposit into the 529 savings acct. It made saving very easy and cleaned up the street as well. I'd like to think it taught my child a lesson about saving, polluting, etc.

Guest's picture
fairydust

I do both - I pick up any money I see lying on the ground, and at the same time I question every large purchase we even consider. Doesn't mean I don't make mistakes and regret purchases, but at least stopping and thinking about it first (can this be fixed or done without instead?) gives us a chance to save more.

Guest's picture
Amber

I think the time necessary for doing any cost-saving action has to be factored into the equation. I clip coupons and compare prices and it takes plenty of time each week but I'm saving my little family *lots* of money and I'm able to donate tons of food and hygiene items to charity.

I don't pick up pennies from the ground, though, probably because I'm too lazy. Everything larger than a penny, however, and you'll be getting a good old moon if you're behind me. As I like to say, "there's no such thing as an unlucky quarter."

Guest's picture
breilly

It may take a while, but I save any coins I find or get back from purchases in a jar then take them to my bank, the bank has a free coin counting machine that makes it super easy to convert that annoying coin into green bills.

Not sure what other banks have these machines but Metro Bank does: http://www.MyMetroBank.com

Guest's picture
ryan

i do all of it, except drive across town to save on gas (i dont pay for gas anyway).

i pick up pennies.

i save on house purchases as much as humanly possible.

i save on utilities, clothing, flights, vacations, etc.

i am only truly satisfied when i know i got the best value for my dollar. cost is generally irrelevant, b/c if i decided to buy it, and got the best deal i could, i sleep fine with it.

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Tyler

I always pick up pennies I see laying around. I have a piggy bank still, and I love putting coins I've found during the day in it, although I still don't know where I can go to get it deposited.

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kath t

I walk and run alot and I live near a High School and Grade school. I find lots of change on a weekly basis. We keep a change charge and place all of our found money and change from using cash in it, at the end of the day. It adds up slowly but surely. I also keep a jar near my washer and dryer...if I "find" money in pockets or the machine...it is mine :)

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Stephanie

I always pick up pennies! I think everything adds up and definitely consider small purchases important.

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Guest

If I see silver or green on the ground, then I'll bend over to pick it up, but not copper any more. Inflation doesn't make that one worth my time (and germs) any more.

As far as saving goes, I absolutely agree that saving money is as good as earning money.

I'm amazed by people who will turn their noses up at using coupons, yet they would love to get a 5-10% pay raise from their jobs. Ha! With a little planning and paying attention, I DO get the raise.

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Kristin

(Oops. I forgot that I cleared my cookies recently.)

If I see silver or green on the ground, then I'll bend over to pick it up, but not copper any more. Inflation doesn't make that one worth my time (and germs) any more.

As far as saving goes, I absolutely agree that saving money is as good as earning money.

I'm amazed by people who will turn their noses up at using coupons, yet they would love to get a 5-10% pay raise from their jobs. Ha! With a little planning and paying attention, I DO get the "raise".

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Jennifer

I save all my pennies, it adds up! It may take awhile but that's part of the game. I think saving is best. overspending is what got this country in the mess it's in.

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Alice

I do believe in the Latte Factor. I think a lot of people, myself included, end up wondering at the end of the month "where did all my money go!?" When you've spent all your money and feel as though you have nothing to show for it (like a new piece of furniture or a house or something), it's probably because you nickel and dimed yourself on things like coffee, a Coke while you're waiting for your car to fill at the gas station, a magazine while you're waiting for your train, etc. These $1 add up surprisingly quickly. And while it doesn't necessarily make or break a person, it is part of the larger scheme of how people think about their money and their spending. People who see a measly penny as IMPORTANT and SIGNIFICANT, those are likely the people who aren't having to borrow money from friends and family at the end of the month.

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Kimberly

A penny saved can be a penny earned, but it depends on the penny. I don't think one should avoid spending money to the point that it robs one of good quality of life. But one also shouldn't spend every penny to the point of financial desperation.

I believe in the latte factor, but I even sometimes splurge on a latte, just not everyday. I try to save better and spend smarter.

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Kelli

That said, saving is a very individual thing that only works when you do what you can and what is suited to your personality. Some people would rather spend the money for a daily latte or whatever and cut back elsewhere. Some like big ticket items and would rather eat ramen a few times a week to afford them. You just have to come up with the right balance for YOU. And I do pick up every penny (or larger!) that I find on the ground. Last year I found over $250!

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Jason

Absolutely! I've paid for lunches with pennies before which feels like a free lunch. I'm not opposed to saving the little things or the bigger things. If I can save anything on anything, then I'm game.

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Chicken Road

I've heard all my life that my (frugal) grandfather often told my (spendthrift) grandmother that she could "throw more money out of the kitchen window with a tablespoon than he could throw in through the front door with a seed shovel."

For some reason, that has stuck with me. It has been my experience that if I watch the pennies, nickels and dimes, the dollars tend to take care of themself.

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Kate

I definitely save money wherever possible...and yup, I pick up pennies whenever I see them!

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BRB

I do pick up pennies and I do think the latte thing could produce results, but if you skipping a monthly coffee "treat" or some such thing just to save a few dollars I think that is going too far. You need to pay down debt, but also enjoy life while you're here.

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Trang

I definitely pick up pennies. It's more money than what I had previously, after all.

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peg

sure! why not? As long as it isn't lying in the path of an oncoming vehicle! I pick up pennies or any other denomination (alas, I only seem to come across pennies). I know I'm not going to get rich doing so, but it's still $

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One day Warren was riding in the elevator at his office in Omaha. A few other people got on the elevator as well. In the middle of the floor was a shinny penny. Everyone had a chance to pick it up, but nobody did. Finally after a few seconds Warren reaches down and picks it up. He looked at it for a moment then slipped the penny into his pocket.

Rumor has it, he said "the start of my next billion" as he put the penny in his pocket.

I don't know if the story's true or not, but it sounds like something he would do. We all have dreams of turning pennies into millions (or billions in Warren's case). Some people have a knack for making money out of almost anything."

I believe this was featured in the book "The Making of an American Capitalist".

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A penny (or any small amount of money) saved is a penny earned under three conditions.

#1. If the time spent saving the penny is not worth more than the penny &

#2. If you are disciplined enough to SAVE that penny and invest it over time!

#3. If the penny saved is ACTUALLY A PENNY SAVED! Saving money on something you DON'T need or saving money on an inflated price (stores love to get you on this one) doesn't count.

Number 2 is where most people fail. They save and re-spend.

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Greg

"A penny saved is two pence dear. A pin a day is a groat a year. Save and have." - Benjamin Franklin

The origin of the quote in question might be more correctly translated into - A penny saved is a penny earned. A small amount each day grows to a larger amount over time. Save and have.

Ben was teaching people about personal finance in his version of a blog called Poor Richards Almanac.

When you do the math it is clear that it is easier and less work to save a penny than to earn a penny.

Ideas such as these are the basis for Lean Management and a new approach to personal finance. If you would like to learn more, click on my name above and look for the post titled: How much is your time worth.

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neverland~

don't waste too much time on saving money, earning is much more important. not saying to be a spendthrift, why not spend your savings on investment.[img]http://www.photosnag.com/img/4713/n09x0302vnsn/clear.gif[/img]

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Rosa

Debt traps you into choices you made in the past that might not suit you any more. Skipping any number of "treats" is worth it to me because I'm free - I can walk out of a bad job or a bad personal situation, because my future's not in hock.

As much as I like little treats, freedom is more worth it.

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Lesa

Yes. I pick up pennies and I spend them, too.

I did have a latte factor. I was going out after work every week or two and when I went back and totaled up how much I had spent in three months I realized that it would have been enough to buy my daughter new dance shoes for all three of her dance classes.

The small things do add up and are just as important as saving on the big stuff.

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Kevin

Every penny counts. I believe they can quickly add up, just as every penny spent quickly adds up. The only problem is, is that spent pennies are usually quicker to add up than saved pennies.

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Jim

A penny saved is a penny earned. I pick up pennies all the time and add them to my coin jar, periodically when I cash out with coinstar for a giftcard, it can add up 40, 50 dollars. Thats enough to knock out a big chunk of my textbook costs as a college student.

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Olivia

Saving little bits- by picking up change, couponing, using price books, redeeming aluminum cans from the street, is all money. Saving big bits by evaluating housing, cars, education, shopping better CD rates, is money too. Making savings work towards larger goals is the trick. Is the immediate worth more than the longer term? Sometimes even the Dollar Menu is worth it in the bigger scheme of things. It's just most times it's not.

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Guest

OLD AGE HOME SIGN on a HUGE penny jug

10 pennies make a dime
ten dimes make a dollar

They used the $ to buy gifts to donate to the needy

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BEth

I'll bend down to pick up a penny. It might be just the penny I need later to pay for the newspaper without breaking another bill. Cutting back on the $4 latte may not sound like much, only four dollars, but do that for a year and you've put $1,460 in your savings account!

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Guest

Thinking about small amounts of money (perhaps not quite pennies, though) is an important mental exercise. It is a matter of developing a frugal mindset. Like the saying, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves."

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Guest

We all know that a penny saved rarely makes it to an actual savings account; instead it's recycled into another purchase. As far as validating the penny pinching shoppers, they may not be any closer to retirement, but they are getting more bang for their buck. Prioritize your spending is the best way maximize your paycheck. It boils down to what is important to you.

-Dan Malone-

FYI: Picking up a penny takes around 2 seconds, which is equal to $0.30 a minute, or $18.00 an hour.

Too bad I only pick up coins if their "heads", I'm superstitious like that.

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C3

There are two kinds of savers:

1) Those who take control of their money because it's a path to a better life. They look at expenditures as choices between a and b and decide which will make them and their family happier in the long run. They use money as a way to improve their relationships and their lives.

2) Those who are controlled by their money. They fixate on their savings because it gives them a scapegoat when they choose to ignore their relationships. Sometimes they have money because it's easier; sometimes they spend for the same reason. They don't use money to improve their lives but to excuse their lives.

Picking up pennies, choosing the cheaper food, and choosing cloth over paper towels are actions that well fit either group. But making those choices with love vs fear is a hallmark of the type of saver one is.

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A book I recently read (The Noticer), had a quote that speaks volumes:

"Big stuff is made up of a bunch of little stuff."

It's pretty common to disregard the "small stuff" and spend more time on the "big stuff" even though we know it's the little things which add up to big success!

A healthy balance is always good.

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Katie

Chris, the tax rate varies on how much money you make. A lot of people are not taxed at 33% and those who are have enough money that a penny really won't make a difference.

At 23, I'm focused on making more money. Of course I pay attention to my spending, but my long-term career plans are important and I'll spend the time and money I need to make sure I can get where I want to go. I have no problem investing in myself :)

If you work enough, you'll hardly even have time to spend your money foolishly. Though I hardly recommend that path for everyone ;)

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Roger Sharland

The real essence of this proverb is that if you do not need to buy something because you are able to find an alternative, you are in practice doing the same as making money. So spending time earning money in order to buy something that would take you less time to do yourself if counter productive. This is more difficult to see in a culture where most people are dependent on a salary, but it is a very clear principle in societies where people produce for themselves. In subsistence based economies the system is based on producing what you need. Moving to a more money based economy can be much less rewarding and less beneficial.