29 Comments

  1. Why not chase pennies and dream? Sounds like you are doing both 🙂 I’m not sure if you have ever tracked all of those little wins in a given year. They really do add up. People might say – so it’s $400 or $500 big deal. YES IT IS A BIG DEAL. It’s (mostly) tax free money too – and how many extra hours would you have to work to make that? Again – you have to balance time and energy, but chasing pennies is in some of our DNA thanks to our nana’s. And who would want to trade that? Not me.

    • Revanche at A Gai Shan life even has a page on her blog that tracks all of her little wins for the year. I should copy her! The only thing I track in a spreadsheet right now is money from decluttering. Maybe I will expand it!

  2. I think that concentrating on the little things in life helps us with the big. When I start focusing my efforts on my little spending, I inevitably save exponentially more during that time period. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, and there is definitely a benefit to learning to spend money strategically. But if I’m careful and thoughtful about little bits of money, I find that translates into better spending/ saving/ investing decisions overall.

  3. I have a few hilarious moments when I realize I’m chasing a $1 savings when a raise at work is clearly more important and has a bigger impact, etc. But I also find the small savings can be a fun way to keep motivated (especially for regular expenses like groceries) and gamify finances a bit 🙂

  4. I once kept a journal of the money I saved buying gasoline at off brand places instead of name outlets. Over the course of a few years, I saved about $35 a penny or two at t a time. I gave it up when my then girlfriend, now wife, made fun of me (the only time I remember giving up a frugal habit for that reason). Pennies matter, not because of their worth, but because they imply something. If pennies don’t matter, do nickles? Dimes? Where is the line drawn? If pennies always matter, then dollars will too. If they don’t, well, . . .

    • I wonder that. How much money do I have to make before I stop caring? I once had a student explain to me that Bill Gates loses money by stopping to bend over to pick up change. Don’t care! I’m picking it up! Maybe if I get to his bank account status I’ll stop…but I don’t think so!

      • Here’s the thing. You’ll probably always care. I’ve been FI for some time now, but still chafe when I know I’ve misspent a dollar or two. Will it matter to my family in the long (or short) run? No. But habits built on a lifetime don’t easily wither.

  5. Karen

    Sure, we’ve got to set the big wheels in motion (like maxing out your salary, education, living debt free) but the micro-actions are the daily motivators, I think. Once my mindset changed to “my money has a purpose” I’ve enjoyed frugality even more, including picking up pennies and saving plastic bottles for redemption, coupon chasing, travel hacking etc. I enjoy knowing that every little bit gets us closer to our dreams.

    • That is an awesome point, Karen. And I’m jealous that you can redeem plastic bottles. I love when frugality and eco-friendly living overlap!

  6. Huh, this is interesting because I still struggle with a scarcity mindset and I DO chase pennies, even though as you said the big wins are where it adds up fastest. I think in my case maybe, the chasing pennies is the fun part, and the worrying about the big expenses comes more from a scarcity mindset since my salary isn’t huge for someone who lives in DC. Sounds weird, but the more I think about it, the more true that seems.

    I absolutely love all of my savings apps, and one of my favorite things to do lately is keep my receipt after I go grocery shopping and transfer the money I saved buying things on sale over to a savings account I keep for that very reason. It’s been awesome watching that number grow through zero extra effort!

    • I love that! I struggle with savings/spavings because there are honestly so many things that I wouldn’t buy if they weren’t on sale. I try to let meal planning AND weekly ads determine what we eat for the week. It would be an interesting experiment for sure!

  7. I try to only chase the pennies that bring me joy. There’s very little I will chase for pennies anymore. I used to walk to the grocery store 10 minutes further away to save 50 cents a gallon on milk. I won’t do that anymore.

    I even took them off our net worth statements! I decided that the seventh figure plus the comma and the decimal and two decimal places was too wide and got rid of them. The spreadsheet looks much tidier now!

  8. I gave up chasing the pennies in favor of focusing my effort on my career and now I am making 200% of what I was making five years ago, I’m more professionally satisfied, our family life is happier and less stressed, and we are saving more than ever. I had to stop visiting three grocery stores to get the absolute beat price on everything, or even time spent looking for coupons or the savings apps – my time is better spent earning than saving. It’s been really freeing. I still make the more frugal choice when it is as easy as any other choice – I bring my lunch unless I have a business lunch – but I let the pennies go.

    • I agree with most of this! I don’t coupon anymore, and I do just about all of my shopping at Aldi. Loss leaders are such come-ons anyway! I suppose if I could earn overtime or things like that, maybe I would feel differently. But for now, snapping a few photos of my receipts is pretty painless. Plus, it helps if I need to return something later. Inevitably, I’ve recycled the paper receipt!

  9. I still chase coins, as well as dollars, because they do add up. But having the luxury of time during retirement makes quite a difference in my perspective. Although really it doesn’t take much time or even much chase to find that extra money. Plus it’s like a game to see how much I can save or earn.

  10. We just had a chat on Twitter about this. I don’t mind spending the odd five or ten minutes a day chasing pennies when they add up to substantial dollars in the end or if there’s benefit to the environment for my effort like keeping things out of landfill. My deal with myself I won’t give up money that’s literally just there for the picking and I have to drop anything that bets ONLY pennies but requires increasing amounts of time. Also for every pennies-level chase, I have to have a dollars-level chase to balance it out.

    You should totally have a side income page too 🙂 it’s excellent perspective!

    • I love visiting your page. And I never told you…now that I have my Fitbit going, I think I’m actually going to get the Amazon gift card from Achievement (linked from your page, of course) before I die. Ha! It goes so much faster now!

  11. I agree with this perspective, Penny. Some times in the larger scheme of things, we easily forget the little things that can often mean much more than their magnitude.

    While a lot of people scoff at the Latte factor, I really think there is merit to it. So many times, the little things add up to something bigger.

    Personally, I have revelled in small wins. However, sometimes it is difficult for me to maintain that considering my husband is all about the larger picture :-/

  12. At my, comparatively, poorly-paying gig I somtimes feel that I am chasing pennies. But I remember that 1. This is the first gig in nearly six years where I am having a pleasant experience, and 2. I’m diligently working on a skill to double my gig pay. Until I get to the higher pay, I definitely need these pennies to keep me afloat. And I need the pleasant work environment to remind me that such a thing is possible.

    • This is such an important comment, ZJ. Focusing only on higher-paying things dismisses not only the enjoyment that some of the “pennies” bring, but also the necessity of them, right?

  13. I feel like I just read an article about myself! All of these small amounts are deposited into my “Thrifty” account. I always like to see how much I’m able to accumulate by the end of the year. Whether it’s through couponing or finding money, it’s money saved. And it does add up! I average around $2k every year that is completely fun money without the guilt!

    • I love that you have a “Thrifty” account. I normally only track when I make (re-make? earn back?) from re-selling my clutter. Maybe I should track it all!

Leave a Reply to Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.