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Everyday Cheapskate: Why 15 Cents Matter

Mary Hunt on

I used to think that small amounts of money didn't matter. What difference could $5 here or $10 there make when we were more than $100,000 in debt (not counting the house and cars)? So what if I increased our debt by such a small amount; it wouldn't really matter because we already owed so much. I used the same argument for not paying anything more than the minimum monthly payments on our credit cards -- because that, too, would make no difference.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn. The truth is that we five-and-10-dollared ourselves to death. It was the little things that added up to create a huge monster. Thinking that the little things didn't matter allowed us to think $2, $5 or $20 didn't matter ... and then $50 didn't matter, and on and on it went.

Ironically, it was the little things that turned us around, too. Sending an extra $2, $5 or $20 every month to rapidly repay the debt we were targeting helped us find a way to make the payment $22 and then $35. Soon, a $100 payment became standard. I've had people look at me like I was a little weird when I suggested they should not use a first-class stamp on a postcard. I mean, does the small difference really matter? I think it does -- not for the exact amount but for the attitude. You see, if you casually throw money away when it comes to a postcard stamp, it's much easier to begin thinking slightly larger sums don't matter either. And soon, you'll be on your way to thinking $20 is not a big deal. Then you'll be headed for trouble.

Yes, my friends, 15 cents do matter. If you understand that, then $1.50 matters, and $15 will matter even more, and on and on, right up to $15,000.

Some wise person once said, "Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves." I have proven that to be true, and I hope you can, too.

Here are three easy ways to stash cash:


Don't spend them. Save them instead. Every evening, empty your pockets, purse and wallet of all coins. Even if the bill comes to $4.05, hand the clerk a $5 bill, and stash the difference. When you accumulate $25 or so, roll, wrap and send them off to your savings account.



No matter how small, make it a habit to bank all coupon savings, rebate checks, refunds and other "found money."


Stash 10% of your pocket money, grocery money and any other "walk-around" funds you control in your secret savings spot. Chances are you won't even miss it. But soon, you'll discover that $2 here and $4 there really add up.


Would you like more information? Go to for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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