Keep the Change

A little pocket change can really add up.

Change-HeadEvery time I’m in the drive-thru I find myself digging in my ashtray (obviously I don’t smoke) for change. And I always find it. But why is it that when I need an extra $5, $10—even $20 here and there during the month for miscellany, I come up short? Especially when my cash flow is more important than a large Diet Coke?!

With unexpected expenses popping up like Whack-a-Moles, finding ways to save money is essential. So I decided to make a conscious effort to find the financial needle-in-a-haystack: an extra $100 each month! I found that with a little bit of hustle—and a smidge of sacrifice—it is doable. My strategies for satisfying are simple. Here, I’ll share:

Buy low. Sell high.

I’m not talking about the stock market because, admittedly, it’s a little over my head. What I am talking about is buying less stuff, and selling more of what you already have ala Craigslist and Amazon. For example, who needs extra rainboots just because they’re on sale? Pare down loading your cart with everything on clearance. Then march through your house, top to bottom, side to side, and clear it of the things you don’t want, need or use. Because guess what? Someone else will—and they’ll pay for it. Warm up your Craigslist and Amazon accounts and it’s a virtual garage sale. Without the lemonade stand.

Keep the change.

Resist the urge to let the barista or the carhop hold onto the rest of your hard-earned dollar. When you pay cash, keep the change for your own stash. Same goes at home. You do the laundry? Check pockets and the bottom of the washer and dryer for change, it's finders, keepers – losers, weepers for sure. It’s a little cliché to say, but change is good.

Skip it.

I’m not talking about around the block like a kindergartner. I’m saying that if you didn’t have the cash for an impromptu purchase, would you miss the opportunity to buy it/have it/consume it? Probably not. From sodas to manicures and a new magazine from the bookstore…skip it. And earmark that money for something else.

Take up a collection.

Aluminum cans and bottles are always recyclable, and they can also be turned in for cash in several states. Put on a pair of gloves and put the family to work rinsing before the “reduce, reuse, recycle” cycle starts.


Clip and virtually save.

The couponing craze is in full effect across the country. And it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Get the kids involved in clipping and sorting while you scour online for discounts you can piggyback on manufacturer coupons. Once your ducks are in a row, shop ‘til your total drops. And take that money you “saved” to add to your stash.

Go free or stay home.

If you can check out a book or movie from the library vs. paying over-the-top prices for hardcovers and 3D versions of films, I say do it. The same goes for taking advantage of free entertainment—from concerts to occasional local arts performances and gallery showings of all sizes. Scanning the paper or social media for grand openings or holiday celebration freebies at local venues is another opportunity to go all out without going all in.

See a penny, pick it up.

Remember that a penny saved is a penny earned (thanks Benjamin Franklin). So no matter if it’s a heads-up copper coin on the sidewalk, a little pocket change, or few dollars still in your bank account thanks to all kinds of couponing, garage sale proceeds or otherwise – you can find $100 in your month, if you look for it.


About the author: Heidi Alger

Heidi Alger is the mother of two low-maintenance, high-energy kids under the age of 10. She offers financial guidance, budget tips and lifestyle advice keeping the challenges of modern military families in line, writing alongside an award-winning team at Pioneer Services. Her grandfather, a CW04, served in the Army Security and National Security Agencies during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Follow Heidi on Google+.

Contact: Heidi Alger


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