The Piggy Bank Mentality – Saving Money Every Day

December 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Financial Planning

I remember piggy banks. Not the virtual kind, like Smarty Pig, but the real ones. They were shaped like a pig and rested on your dresser or kitchen counter. Those piggy banks performed an important function beyond storage of loose change. They provided a visual reminder of the need to save – every day.

Yes, today we have 401(k) plans and the like that transfer funds from our paychecks into a retirement account. But that’s only once or twice a month. We can do a lot of damage to our net worth in between those periodic savings transactions.

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin wrote:

Human felicity is produc’d not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.

(Don’t you love Google books?) Now apply this advice to the subjects of spending and saving. It tells us not to seek financial success by purchasing lottery tickets or speculating in the stock market, trying to hit a home run. Instead, we should do something every day to improve our financial condition.

Saving every day is not difficult. It does not require stuffing money into a piggy bank or cookie jar each day after work.  (Although that would be a good thing.)

Saving money daily can be as simple as conserving energy around the house, e.g., turning off a light switch or dropping the thermostat a degree on a cold day. When you make that small adjustment, you can mentally pat yourself on the back: “I just saved some money today.” Or maybe tomorrow you will drive to work at 5 MPH under the speed limit instead of 5 MPH over the limit. That also saves real gas money.

I try to save money (and calories) each workday by bringing my lunch from home. I think about that $3-$5 in savings with each can of soup that I open.

I know some folks who claim to save money every day by purchasing items on sale – as in “I saved $10 on this robotic hamster.” Yeah, you know who you are. Sorry – that’s not what I’m talking about. No one gets wealthy buying unnecessary stuff on sale. Selling your useless stuff on Craigslist and putting that income in your piggy bank? That qualifies.

Just writing this short post has me thinking about old school savings techniques. Remember bank “Christmas Club” accounts? Mrs. ToughMoneyLove’s mom was a banker. She used a Christmas Club account to save money to buy gifts for our boys – her only grandchildren. Very simple and very effective. I admired her for that daily or weekly savings effort (and for a lot of other things).

I have a large change container on my dresser that is slowly filling up with quarters. It’s my generic-shaped piggy bank. I don’t put something in it every day.  But I should, if for no reason other than its symbolism. And starting today, I will.

Do you have a piggy bank mentality? What tangible things do you do every day to save?

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5 Responses to “The Piggy Bank Mentality – Saving Money Every Day”
  1. MasterPo says:

    While I agree about saving in general, and I also agree that little savings can add up over time, your point is like trying to hold back the ocean with the perverbial broom.

    You’re talking about saving pennies relative to the dollars that are hemorrhaging from your wallet.

    The *real* heavy duty costs of your life – energy, food, insurance, and don’t forget taxes upon taxes! – you have precious little ability to control or avoid. That’s where your cashflow is spiraling down the tube. :-(

  2. Gail says:

    I believe the real value of actively engaging in behaviors that save relatively modest sums of money every day (like brown-bagging lunch or turning down the thermostat a tad) lies not so much in the actual amount saved but in helping to maintain the proper attitudes and mindset, which leads to looking out for and acting on opportunities to save money on the bigger things.

  3. cjbr549 says:

    The small savings do add up. Brown bagging 4 days a week, assuming you have a generous 4 weeks a year vacation and you save 5 dollars each meal you brown bag nets you 960 savings per year. I installed a programmable thermostat that saves us about 30 dollars a month in combined gas and electricity for a yearly net of 360 dollars. That comes to 1320 dollars in savings per year, which can be banked or used to buy something that will give you more enjoyment than those 192 restaurant meals or the knowledge that your house is still 72 degrees while you are at work. I agree that the big things should be addressed first, but once you have those under control, the little things can add up. It all really depends on what a person values. Do you value an extra chunk of change in your savings, a new flat screen, or eating out every day? It’s a personal choice, but if you never think about the costs involved, you are not making a decision, you are being overcome by events. I spend money on things some think are frivolous, but I know when and how much I spend on that and make a conscious decision to do it with my entire financial picture in mind.

  4. Ducktight says:

    What are you doing opening a can of soup for lunch?
    This is just different version of eating out. If you cook a large pot of soup every weekend from scratch, then you can take it that work every day of the week for way less than buying the can. (Less waste and more nutritious too:)

  5. cindy says:

    I love this post. I tend to be a saver but have never thought about it in quite this way before.

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