Tip # 478: Unload your $1 bills every night!

dollars coins jar savings
I’ve been doing this on and off over the years, but a recent commenter here reminded me how well this trick works!  And it barely takes any extra time in your schedule to make it happen. (it literally takes .03 seconds – I’ve timed it.)

Check it out (thanks Chris!):

For the last week I have been taking all my ones out of my wallet at the end of the day because I tend to spend less impulsively if I have to break a larger bill. I had already been saving my coins. At the end of this week I have saved almost $40 between the ones and coins.

That’s pretty damn good!  I actually do the same thing with coins going on 3 years now (you can check out my “winnings” here and here since tracking this), but upping the ante with dollars makes you even more hardcore.  And that’s a good thing :)  Well, if you like saving money that is – not if you’re a frequent patron of the strip clubs, Haha…

As Chris mentioned, unloading your dollars at the end of the day does TWO things for you:

  1. You literally save more money! And if you can take it one step further and DEPOSIT this money at the end of every month, you’ll have some nice amounts stacking up over the year.
  2. You possibly cut the urge to impulse spend a little bit. I hadn’t thought about this effect when I was doing it myself (I have no problems breaking a larger bill for something I want right that instant! *cough* chocolate bars), but I bet this does change the way some people would shop.

Of course, the downside here is that it does get pretty annoying never having any singles on you.  You won’t believe the amount of times they come in handy!  And I’m also a fan of  having plenty of cash on you at all times – in all different denominations.  But then again, if all you wanna do right now is save save save, this just might be the trick for you!  And it’s a helluva lot easier than trying to save $1 a day which burned me out much faster when I gave that one a shot.  With this one, either you have a dollar to stash aside every night, or you dont’!  No pressure… just the way I like it :)

Any one else trying this right now? Anyone have even better ideas?

(Photo by KrissZPhotography)

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  1. Molly On Money November 29, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    I tend not to spend impulsively if I have cash on hand. I’m switching to my credit card for the next few months so I can get enough reward points for an airline ticket. I’m going to be watching myself very closely to see if I spend carelessly with the card.

  2. SheBudget November 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    This is a great idea, but I use one dollar bills on at least once a week. I live on a military base and at the grocery store (commissary) on base they have workers who bring the bags out to your car and they are ONLY paid with tips, no hourly wage. So I always tip around $2 or $3 (usually it’s retired military spouses who work as baggers), depending on how much I buy. If I go through the express lane they only have a bagger, not someone to carry out to your car, so I typically leave only $1 when I go through the express lane.

    The commissary is SO cheap and tax free, so I usually don’t buy groceries off base unless the commissary doesn’t have what I need.

  3. Evan November 29, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Like you I do it with the coins – then change in the money and use it while on vacation for a really nice meal. Last year I did it with dollars and because I put it in a water jug it was a PAIN in the butt to get the dollars out, but it was the most I had ever saved.

    I think I am going to start with the dollars again.

  4. Lulu November 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    I used to do this when I used cash but since I switched to a credit card only system I no longer have any cash to deal with. This is a great tip for those who use cash though because you can really see the savings pile up.

  5. Karmella November 29, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    I’ve got a pretty container by the door where I put change and any random bills I’ve got – if I stick any cash in my jeans or coat pockets, I stick it in there when I clear out. I don’t ever use an ATM – literally maybe once in four or five years – so I use the container as sort of the cash slush fund, and a source of quarters for the ever increasing cost of DC parking meters (still cheaper than the #%&^* garages…).

    I think all that means is that I don’t have a tight enough budget :)

  6. MoneyCone November 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    That is an awesome tip! Going to try it out!

  7. Doctor S November 29, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    I have never had an issue with impulsive spending. I never keep cash on me in the first place, but during my cash season (aka hoops reffing season), I would always take all of the $1 ‘s and keep them in my wallet and then all other bills would go in my shoebox of savings. Once the season is over I’d tally up all the bills and chuck em in a bank account. Bottom line is that it goes back to budgeting, if you think about it, no difference between the cash in your wallet and using that damn easy debit card!! Happy Moonday J$.

  8. Desi Guy November 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    That is a great idea. I never saved the $1 bills, only the coins. We usually use our credit card for almost all transactions,so coins are few to come by, and of the ones that do – quarters go to the car for parking meters (those meters have started eating a ton of quarters lately) and the rest go into a big jar to be redeemed once a year for a nice movie and dinner date :)

    The $1 idea seems really good, will give it a try – thanks for sharing.

  9. Nick November 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Definitely a great idea. I used to value $1 bills a ton for tipping, but I’ve gotten used to saying “I would like to give you a couple of dollars to thank you for helping out, do you have change for a $5 (or a $10)” or something like that. Rule number 1 for tipped workers is to have change for ANYTHING! I bartended for six years and there was nothing I couldn’t change for a tip!

    Or, maybe keep 5 ones on you at all times (in a separate place in your wallet). Don’t use them except for tipping. Work with the rest of your money as if you don’t have those ones and deposit all of your other ones at the end of the day – you’ll get the same results as long as you never use the ones except to tip. When you run out of ones to tip, get change and restock your 5.

  10. Jason@LiveRealNow November 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Once a week, I pull the 1s out of my money clip(I rock the clip!) and throw them in a box my wife doesn’t know about. That gets used as random pizza money and walking-around money when we take a vacation.

  11. Mercedes November 29, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I’m not much of a cash user, but when I do I at least save the coins at the end of the week. And if I have a random $1 bill hanging out in the wallet I’ll throw that in the jar as well. I don’t like to clean it out every night because you never knwo when you’ll need to feed a meter or sometimes you just NEED that chocolate bar.

    I’ve also started saving all of the change and ones that my DBF likes to leave laying around my house. he doesn’t really keep his cash in his wallet and doen’t have a money clip either. So when he goes to pull his rumpled bills out of his pocket something always seems to fall out. I’ve been trying to teach him not to carry his cash around that way, and as a way to prove how much money he is throwing away i’ve been putting it into a jar.

    Hopefully these savings will get us a nice little trip out of town somewhere!

  12. ide November 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    I’ve been doing the “save a dollar a day” for the past two years with two of my closest coworkers. The first year we added a little more than a dollar and got around 500 and change back, this year it was save 2 dollars a day and since we already knew the results already we each gave a lot more and have over a grand saved and the year isn’t over!! I strongly suggest this for those ppl that have difficulty keeping the $$ in their savings accounts. :D

  13. Amy November 29, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    That’s one perk we Canadian’s have is that when we dump out our change, that include our $1 and $2 coins!

  14. retirebyforty November 29, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Nice trick, I like it. I hate carrying coins so they always go into the change jar at the end of the day. Dollar bill will be more difficult to separate from my wallet. :)

  15. Jenna November 29, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    I put all my quarters into a huge bamboo piggie bank my dad got for me from China last year. You can’t open it without breaking it. So I figured once it is full I can bust it out open and deposit the money into my bank account. Then I have another piggie bank that I’ve had for years for pennies, nickels and dimes which I use for the same reason.

  16. Christy November 29, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Another Canadian here. I dump all my change at the end of the day- $1 and $2 coins included. I can easily end up with $1000/year. I use this money for gift shopping or extra debt repayment.

  17. Bobby November 29, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    I’ve got a massive, plastic beer bottle just for collecting coins. Every 6 months to a year I’ll count everything up and deposit it. It’s usually around $200. Can’t complain abut that at all.

  18. Techbud November 29, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    The vending machine guy at work is not going to like this post. :)

  19. J. Money November 29, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    @Molly On Money – Yeah, let me know how that works out. I still need to try and go 100% cash for a month to see what happens :)
    @SheBudget – YES! Oh how I miss commisaries… product of a military family myself and LOVED going there :) And also remember tipping the helpers for my mom…
    @Evan – Haha, never thought about that.
    @Lulu – You gotta have SOME cash on you at all times though my friend – right? For safety reasons! :)
    @Karmella – Wow. Never us an ATM? I’m impressed. I got every paycheck and take out $100 for spending money – then everything else is paid w/ a credit card…. I always have to have cash with me.
    @MoneyCone – Go for it!
    @Doctor S – Yessirrr…Happy Monday indeed! Hope it was awesome yo.
    @Desi Guy – Let me know how it works :) Hear ya on the quarters too – coveted those like mad when we lived in apartments w/out washers & dryers!
    @Nick – I like it! I’ve been keeping a few ones one me for my homeless friends I always see. It’s the WORST when you only have big bills cuz you can’t ask for change, but you can’t always give out a $10 or $20! It also helps you if you know where you $1s are so you’re not sorting through all your cash in the middle of the street. (how did you like bartending btw? always wanted to try that)
    @Jason@LiveRealNow – Money clips unite!!! Better believe I rock one too, sir :)
    @Mercedes – Yeah, a trip to Savings-ville!(wha wha…. that was bad)
    @ide – Damn, that is awesome! I didn’t last 2 months! Haha…
    @Amy – YES! You and the Brits :)
    @retirebyforty – But better the reward ;)
    @Jenna – Sounds cool! I like hearing about creative banks. Need a new one myself come to think of it…
    @Christy – Oooooh gift shopping, GREAT idea. As long as you start early in the year, of course ;)
    @Bobby – No you cannot!
    @Techbud – Better not tell him then ;)

  20. Nick November 30, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    I loved bartending. It was a great way to earn money while not spending money and still going out to fun places (just on the other side of the bar) – I posted about the money aspects of it a couple of months ago(http://www.stepawayfromthemall.com/2010/09/actually-saving-money-by-going-where.html).

    It was a great place to meet people. Some of my closest friends come from the bar world (I bartended on the Sunset Strip for almost a year and Boston for around 5 years). My key was not to fall prey to the bar industry lifestyle. I treated it like any other job while in college and grad school. Once I graduated I quit. In my opinion there is no better bang for your buck while in school for a part time job.

  21. Subu November 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    This is an excellent idea. Very doable, the amount will grow over time and you’ll also end up eating less bad stuff from the vending machine!

  22. J. Money November 30, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    @Nick – So jealous dude! That is bad ass. I swear I’m really going to try it once i get all my money on lock. The social aspect alone is worth the job!!

    @Subu – Unless you go to Disney World where it costs like $5 for a chocolate bar ;)

  23. caroline December 1, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    hmm, good idea but I never carry around cash. and when I do have cash, I have it because I have to use and usually end up with only change at the end of the day. but I have been saving my coins for almost a year. last year, I bought myself those coin reader jars at Target and whenever I get change, I make sure to save it. currently it’s at $76.29 which is great because imagine where all those coin would have been if I haven’t saved them.

  24. Lulu December 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    J I have not carried cash on me for YEARS. I think there might be a $1 bill behind the copy of my insurance….I found that on the ground one day.

    What ‘safety’ reasons are you talking about that I would need cash for? Please explain.

  25. J. Money December 2, 2010 at 2:47 AM

    @caroline – Nice!!! I wish I had a counter on mine… might have to change that ;) (no pun intended)
    @LuLu – I dunno…. just seems safer :) Let me think on it and get back to you, haha….

  26. Ann December 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Decided to try this for the month of December and I’m happy so say that I have $51(all $1 bills) and that’s not incuding change. I will definitely keep this up in 2011!

  27. J. Money December 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    WOW! Good job!!! that is awesome :) I just emptied out my coin jar from all of 2010, and got back around $112. But that was the entire year – which you just accomplished after 1 month! haha…. so cool.