Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, a Nickel, a Penny?

Article By Stephanie Johnson

Right now, being money-smart is more important than ever before.  The days of uninhibited, thoughtless spending are long gone for most of us, and everyone is feeling the pinch of the current economy.


Just yesterday, as I was walking my dog in our apartment complex, I spied an older woman reaching into a dumpster, rooting around for salvageable goods. She had a young boy with her, and he looked at me with a big, gap-toothed grin.  “We found lots of good stuff!” he said enthusiastically.  “Hush,” the woman said, looking embarrassed and ashamed, not willing to meet my eyes.


I smiled at her, hoping she would see that I didn’t think anything negative of her, and went on my way.


Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon sight in the neighborhood anymore.  I see someone salvaging at least once every day or two now.  Times are tough.  Families have to make hard choices.


Yet still, some people make choices without thinking, and are not utilizing all their assets to their fullest.  For example, if you see a penny lying on the street, do you stop and pick it up?  When you get home after an outing, do you do anything with the change in your pockets, or just forget about it? What do you do with stay coins you may find in your couch or under then chair?


You might think … what good can a penny do; what difference does it make? By itself … none.


But the road to true financial freedom is paved in pennies – and perhaps more importantly – the thought and frugality behind these tips will help you down that road.


Here are a couple of suggestions on how to best utilize the spare change you manage to round up.  And these are great ideas to share with your children so they start now thinking about saving and spending money wisely:



Save up your change, and when your credit card comes due, use it towards the interest, thus making a slightly bigger payment than usual.  It sounds like a little thing, but couple of dollars now could save you thousands over time.


Nest Egg

Start a savings account that you can’t just easily get into.  Deposit all of your spare change into the account on a regular basis.  So you won’t be tempted to use it … make a note that the spare change is not “available” but is instead earmarked for this account.  Eventually, you’ll have a tidy little amount in there that will help you out on a rainy day.


Super Bargain Hunting

If you want to do a little splurge shopping, save up your change and solemnly swear it is all you spend on certain items.  You can make best use of it by checking out things at a garage sale, or flea market, or a used book store.  For just a couple of dollars, you could possibly find a great item at a wonderful value.


Fill Your Grocery Basket

After a few months of saving your change, get it changed to bills or voucher at your grocery store and use that money to fill your food basket.  Then, you can see how little odds and ends can add up to a sumptuous family meal.


Piggy Bank

Start a piggy bank, and when that piggy bank gets too full, consider using alternate places to store that change.  My suggestion would be to wash out a plastic 2-liter soda bottle and cut the top off of it.  It holds a lot of change, but you can still carry it once it’s full.


So pick up that penny and take it home!  The perfect time to start paving that road to financial freedom is right now.


“The individual serves the industrial system not by supplying it with savings and the resulting capital; he serves it by consuming its products.”
-John Kenneth Galbraith


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Posted on 10 August, 2009 in Finance & Family
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