Last week, a friend and I talked about saving money. Specifically we talked about my savings plan that I talk about in my book Put Your Budget on a Diet. In this plan, I put every $1 bill I receive back as change. I call this “The One Dollar Plan”. It’s a simple but effective way to start saving.
She was dismissive.
“I don’t see how that’s going to be enough to make a difference!”
This feeling is understandable; I know the feeling.
Planning comes naturally to me. I like to look at the long term. If I know I will need to get to a certain spot by a certain date, I will figure out how much I need to save by then. Oh, wait, I don’t have enough to put that much into savings, I’ll realize.
do I did I deal with this issue in the past?
I’d not put anything into savings if my best will not be good enough.
The Key Question when Saving
Dollar bills, and loose change may not seem like much. In fact, it may not seem like enough to make a difference. But let me ask you something. If this is not enough for you, then how much are you putting into savings right now?
For my friend, the answer was that zero was going into savings regularly. Not a surprise. That’s the answer most people give. All five of my test readers said the same thing. Four of them are halfway to their emergency fund goals. This is just from having the $1 plan in place for three months, after realizing the simple fact that $1 is more than $0.
Let that sink in. Say it to yourself a few times.
One Dollar is More than Zero Dollars.
Stick it with a sticky note in your wallet if you have to.
We know we need an emergency fund. But when we can’t put what we think we should into it, what we think would be enough, we don’t put in anything. We know we should save to replace our cars, but we put nothing aside for those either.
Here’s what I told her, and what I’m telling you. $1, if that’s all you’re putting into savings, is still over Zero.
The Habit to Build
We didn’t realize it the value of putting even a dollar into the savings account went well beyond the dollar we were setting aside for emergencies. As I look back on this habit of saving, I can see the truth. It’s not about what is and is not enough. This is especially true if you’ve grown up as I have as part of the generation that spends everything we earn plus going into debt for what we think we should have over and above our income.In our family, the value of putting $1 into savings went beyond the $1 we were setting aside. Click To Tweet
The act of saving all loose coins and all dollar bills was not as much about the amount we were putting into the bank, and whether it would be “enough” for our goals. Not at all.
The act of saving even a small amount was more about building a habit of not spending everything I had in my wallet, and then some.Saving small amounts was more abt building a habit of not spending Click To Tweet
When my husband and I would decide that I’d have, for example, $100 in grocery money for a certain week, he often teased me I’d somehow spend $102.67. No kidding.
Most of my friends would say I was frugal, so I felt it was okay that I always went a dollar or two over. I was doing better than most people. Two dollars will not make a difference. Two dollars is hardly enough to make a difference.
But that wasn’t the point.
There was a habit there, whether reasonable, of spending just a little more than I had budgeted and then saying, “Oh well, I’m still doing good compared to most people”
A New Habit of Saving Instead of Spending
When I got into the habit of putting every individual dollar bill and coin into a separate part of my wallet and then into my savings account as soon as shopping was over, I was building a new habit. A better habit. This habit may not have been enough to become financially free in six months, but it was a new habit that was breaking the old habit that would keep me from ever becoming financially free. It was the habit of spending less than budgeted.
Worrying about whether it would be enough was just an excuse. Procrastination. Sometimes it was even a pity party about not having enough.
I’ve learned that if you think what you have is not enough, it never will be.I've learned that if you think what you have is not enough, it never will be. Click To Tweet
The habit not only helped us get used to not viewing the amount in our wallets as what we get to spend today 😉 but it also surprised me by fully funding my emergency fund in under a year…. $1 is more than we realize. It is enough.