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Everyday Cheapskate: 7 Clever Ways to Build a Cash Stash

Mary Hunt on

While a lot of us believe we're saving money when we buy things on sale, it's not true unless we actually save the difference between the regular price and the sale price. That could be stopping at the bank on the way home from the store and actually depositing the amount of money we didn't spend in a savings account -- or some other equally effective method to really, truly save money!

When you buy things on sale, you aren't really saving money, you're just spending less than you might have. Hopefully, today's selection of great reader tips will give you a few new ways to save money that you've not thought of before.

BUCK BANK. Every $1 bill is marked with a letter to the left of George Washington. I save bills that have either of my initials on them. I put away over $300 in $1 bills over the past year, and I used it as my spending money when I visited relatives in California recently. Thanks to my stash, I enjoyed my visit without using my credit card, and it was so satisfying! -- Elsie B., Ohio

FIVE SPOT. I save all $5 bills because there are fewer of them than $1 bills, but they add up to more money. I learned that from my friend, who saved $2,000 for a Florida vacation by hiding her $5 bills. -- Donna, Wisconsin

CHANGE JUG. My husband and I have a 5-gallon plastic water bottle in the bedroom. Every night, we empty our pockets into the jug. It is now one-quarter full. About four months ago, we emptied the full jug and took it to the bank. To our surprise, we had $2,134.42. We were able to pay down one of our credit cards with the money. With our next full jug, we are planning a vacation. We won't need to empty our savings account for our getaway! -- Barbara V., New Jersey

MULTI-TASKER. I save all my change. After it accumulates, I count and roll it in the evenings when I watch TV. I could take it to the bank and put it through their change-counting machine, but the bank would get a percentage of it. This way, I'm doing something useful while watching TV, and I get to turn it in for cash when I need it. -- E., Ohio

GROCERY ROUTINE. My husband and I always shop for groceries with the sale flyer and coupons (both paper and digital). We rarely purchase items that aren't on sale or don't have a coupon for a discount. After each shopping trip, I collect the register tapes and clip them together. At the end of each month, I add up my total savings from sales and coupons, which are listed on every receipt. Then I write a check for that amount and deposit it into our savings account. By writing a check once a month, you can really see the savings you earn from grocery sales and coupons. If you just put the savings from each trip in your pocket, it gets wasted on unnecessary things. -- Elaine K., email


CHECKING CUSHION. In my checkbook, instead of deducting or adding the exact amount of each transaction, I round up or round down. If a transaction was a debt of $13.06, I deduct $14. Because I use my checking account so much, this adds up quickly. I have managed to save hundreds of dollars this way. I keep a periodic running total of the actual amount in a separate area of my register. Currently, I have about a $350 cushion in my checking account because of this. -- Jannaya, email

CREATE A HABIT. I know a habit is something you do without much thought. Saving money by setting up automatic transfers from my checking account to my savings has truly become a wonderful new habit. Once I set it up at my bank, I felt the "loss" from my checking account but only for a few weeks. Then it's like I forgot about it! It's so easy because there are no deposit slips to fill out, branches to visit or cash withdrawals required. I can just check my balance online from time to time and watch my money stash (emergency fund) grow. -- Suzanne, Tennessee

Thanks to all my readers who share their best ideas for saving time and money. By following their basic steps, you'll be able to put money into an emergency fund for when you need it.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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