A few months ago, I wrote about the power of loose change, offering the example of a fellow who amassed some $36,000 over 23 years by saving all the loose change in his pockets every day. He ended up able to buy several vehicles with the money.
I heard from some readers that this wasn't a realistic scenario. Then I heard from a reader named Chris, who shared how he has outperformed both scenarios, saving almost $7,000 in just four years:
I never use change to pay for anything and instead opt to constantly break small bills into more change. Typically, I bring home $1 or $2 each day that I put in a coffee can. Also, when I go to the grocery store, any savings from 'Club Cards' or coupons goes into the coffee can. Once a month I take whatever is in the coffee can (usually $100 to $150 per month) to the bank and deposit it in a money market account.
He noted that the process "took virtually no effort and certainly didn't change my lifestyle greatly." He's aiming to hit $10,000 in the near future, at which time he'll deposit the funds into a brokerage account (you can find a good one via our Broker Center, Chris!), and will invest in index funds or ETFs.
This just goes to show how effectively we can save, if we put our minds to it. Spend a little time examining your habits and see where you might be able to sock away a few dollars per day. Just five dollars daily will add up to $7,300 in four years. Perhaps every time you spend $5 on a pack of cigarettes or a jumbo iced coffee, you can chip $5 into a coffee can. Maybe you can remove a few bells and whistles from your telephone and cable service, and save $100 per month -- that alone will come to nearly $5,000 in four years.
Furthermore, once you start investing, your money will begin to grow on its own. For instance, the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index
As your money accumulates, learn how to maximize it over the short term in our Savings Center.
For more on how to help your money grow on its own, take a look at the Fool's Income Investor newsletter. You'll find plenty of high-quality dividend-paying stocks to choose from. See them now with a 30-day free trial.