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The Spare Change Challenge

Money Saving Tip of the Month (featured column)
submitted by Vicky Fox

Here's a great challenge from one of our readers to create a Rainy Day Fund from spare change, and $1.00 bills!

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Rainy Day Savings Fund 
Last January 1st, I made a pledge to begin saving regularly. So, I began to round up every bit of spare change I got a hold of and kept it stored in containers, my favorite is recycled glass jars.

I will continue to save up all year, until December 31st. In January, I am going to cash the change in for a Rainy Day Fund!

I'd like to pose a challenge to everyone to do the same. From January 1st, save either your change and/or dollar bills for the entire year, and then when the end of the year comes, let's see how much everyone has and what they plan to do with it.

After doing this for almost a year, it’s been amazing to see the savings add up!

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Challenge Updates:

February - Just thought I'd check in and see if anyone's been managing to save this last month. I've saved a total of $39.00 for the month of January, including pay from a side job and my change. Best of luck in the challenge to everyone who joins in!

March - Just a quick check in to see how everyone is doing. I've managed to save a total of $78.00 for January and February. Now that my husband is finally back to work, things will hopefully become more steady. Again, good luck saving, everyone!

May - Just a check in to see how everyone's doing with The Rainy Day Challenge for May. I was lucky enough to land a side job doing some cleaning, and added it to my savings. The total to date is $159.00. I've decided to add all of my side jobs to my fund. I hope everyone is doing well!

August - Hi everyone! Just another check in to see how everyone is doing. As of August 26th, I’ve managed to stash away about $360.00 not counting the loose change I have yet to roll. I plan on keeping on track until December 31st. I hope everyone has been as blessed as I have. Best wishes to everyone in the challenge!

November - I've kept my pledge to save all of my change, $1.00 bill and $5.00 bills. As of today I have over $1,045.00 for the entire year. I hope everyone's been as fortunate as I have. There's still another month to go. Best wishes for everyone!

January (following year) - Since starting this challenge, I've now saved a total of $3,600.00. WOW!!!

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Readers' Comments:

"I haven't spent change in years. I save it for special things I want. One thing my change got me was a new TV. Great way to save. I am 83 years old. Believe me it works. I got brave in my old age. I never pay in change. If something is under $1 then I always pay with a dollar and save the change." - Eleanor B.

"My husband and I have saved our change ever since I can remember. We use it to treat ourselves. I would use it for my hair (a perm, coloring or whatever). My husband is deceased now and I still save my change. I don't end up with as much as when we were both doing it, but I still do it. Like the previous reader said, I never pay with change, if something costs $0.75 I pay with a dollar. Also, whenever I find a penny, I say a prayer for someone and put the penny in my jar also. I only do this with pennies. Something else we used to do is add up all the coupons I used that week and subtract that amount from my checking account.  I would highlight the amount in yellow. It was money I would have spent had I not had a coupon. Then at the end of the year we'd add up all the highlighted coupon money and add it back into our checking account. Usually we had enough to take a little weekend vacation. Example: If I saved $8.13 in coupons, I would deduct $8.13 from our checking account balance, either leave it there or put it in savings, mark it as coupon money and highlight it in yellow. This was so much fun and just another way to save painlessly." - Kathy H.

"I have always done this, only I call it my 'fix the house fund.' We live in an older home, so it has come in handy a lot. It has been used to help replace a water heater and a refrigerator. It has also been used for furnace repairs, and to get roof shingles after a bad storm. Things happen, and it's good to be at least somewhat prepared." - Laurene

"I agree that it is smart to save anyway that you can! My husband and I save our change from June to June, for our family vacation. Every year we go to the beach with the kids and whatever we have saved we cash in the week before and use that for 1 night of "fun" for the kids. That may be anything from rides and games, to dinner and souvenirs. Last year we took them on a boat ride in the evening on a dolphin watch. The kids even got into saving their change for it too. Another way we save is by doing the $1.00 a day saving method. Every paycheck a dollar a day is deducted. For example, if you get paid weekly, when your paycheck is deposited keep out $7.00 (1 dollar a day) and either put it into a separate account or keep it in a jar at home. Do this every week for 52 weeks and it adds up and at the end of the year you'll have $365 to put towards anything you want or need. It's especially nice to have for after Christmas sales." - Christina S.

"A couple of years ago, I did start saving $1.00 bills, while I don't remember how much I had saved. It has certainly come in handy since my husband lost his job a year ago. I do still have some left, but our rainy day hasn't ended yet. I hope to start doing it again once he finds a job. It not only works for saving money, but is a tremendous help at times like this! I have it locked up in a fireproof safe, so it is handy when necessary. I still try not to spend it if I don't have to." - G. R. Orcutt

"My husband and I save all our change throughout the year for vacations. So far this year we have saved over $68, just in coins! My mom used to save dimes for furniture. In a year's time she was always able to buy at least one piece of nice furniture with her dime collection." - Lisa

"I have been saving my change for about 3 years. I use only bills when shopping with cash and save every bit of change. One of the other things I have been doing is saving all the 'new' quarters separately from my regular change and every few months, I add them to the Quarter map. Once the map is updated, I put the remainder in the change bank. Two years ago, I saved enough to buy my husband a recliner. Last year, I saved enough for our portion of our weekly beach house vacation rental. Since we are not taking a formal vacation this year, I am saving for our 2010 vacation. This is a painless way to save and it doesn’t seem like a hardship." - Pepper

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Editor's Note: Though our "Spare Change" Challenge has ended on this page, may it continue on forever in our families!

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