How a Healthcare Administrator in the New York Area Saves Money, $5 at a Time

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jessica is a 37-year-old who works in healthcare administration in the greater New York area. She saves all her $5 bills as a way to create a special fund, and then she treats herself to something fun with the money she’s saved.

How did you first hear about this method of saving $5 at a time?

My mom is part of a tennis group and she went out one evening with one of the women in her group, who had on a beautiful necklace. My mom complimented her on the necklace and her friend said it was something she had saved money for herself. She’d started to save $5 bills and she bought the necklace with the $5 bills she had saved. It was a $700 necklace! I thought that was such a fun idea. I wanted to try it, too.

How long have you been saving your $5 bills, and how much money do you estimate you’ve saved so far with this method?

I probably started the first week of March 2016, and in December, I went to Tiffany’s and I bought myself a $500 bracelet. I didn’t spend all the money — I saved about $700 between March and December. I continued it again after December. My birthday was in May, and I’m hoping to go back to the jewelry store and buy myself something else in about that same price range.

Will you assess your savings on an annual basis and get yourself a present every year?

That was my original intention. I thought it would be fun to buy myself a Christmas present, but I think maybe it will be a birthday treat. I don’t know if I’ll keep it to twice a year — luckily my birthday is about halfway through the year — so it’ll either be once a year or twice a year. We’ll see.

Do you just save $5 bills when you get them back as change?

That’s exactly right. I try to pay for things in cash (which helps with my credit card bills, too, so I can control what I’m spending). Any time $5 comes back to me as change, I tuck it in a separate compartment in my wallet and when I get home that night I put it in a special place where I keep my $5 bills. Obviously, when I go to the jewelry store, I’ll use a credit card, but then I’ll deposit the cash and use that to pay for it.

Do you also save singles or just fives?

Just the fives — it’s kind of a special thing. Sometimes when I park at [a local shopping mall], I’ll put in a $20 bill to park my car and I get three $5 bills back that way. Other than that, I really let the five dollars come to me. Now that friends and family know I collect five dollar bills, they sometimes give them to me! For my office’s Secret Santa last year, someone gave me a little treat with a $5 bill. My siblings gave me a Kate Spade wallet for my birthday this year, and they tucked a $5 bill into it.

Have you ever thought about switching over to $10 bills?

No. When my mom first told me about her friend who had done this, and that she was going to do it too, I didn’t think of $10 bills. I actually thought it was going to be hard to get $5 bills. I don’t remember ever opening up my wallet and seeing lots of $5 bills before, but it’s something you can easily get for change. It doesn’t feel like it’s hurting you all that much — if you have a twenty and you get $5 in change from lunch or something, it’s easy to tuck it away whereas $10, it’s harder to do that.

Are $5 bills your favorite denomination of money?

I’m a big Hamilton fan so the $10 bill is probably my favorite! Although I should probably say $50 or $100 if anyone wants to donate to me. It’s certainly fun now when I get change back and it’s a $5 bill.

Have you thought about doing one of those things with your bank where they round up the change and put it in a savings account?

I actually tried Acorns, which does that. If you go to a coffee shop and spend $3.40, you can save the other $.60 and watch your money grow. I don’t know, I wasn’t enjoying it as much. What’s really fun is watching the pile of $5 bills grow. I can treat myself to a nice splurge, and in the long run, it’s didn’t hurt to get that money. You’re saving it in little increments, those $5 bills add up really quickly, and then you get yourself something really fun.

Any thoughts on what you’ll get on your next trip to the jewelry store? Is there a specific piece of jewelry you’re planning to get?

Not really. I could use a nice set of pearls, I think, but you never know! It was really fun going to the Tiffany’s in New York City. I had to go up to the fourth floor, where the affordable stuff is. It was exciting to go and spend some serious cash there and buy myself something.

Sounds like a good plan. Keep saving those $5 bills!

Janine Annett is a New York-based writer. Read more of her work at or follow her on Twitter @janineannett.

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