College on $1 Day

We have a massive jar in the corner of our living room that I put a dollar a day into it. And each time Luna’s parents pick her up from us watching her, they drop paper money into it. At the end of each month, we deposit the money into a college fund account for our granddaughter.

You’d be amazed at how fast it adds up. Let me give you an example:


The entire year before we walked across Scotland as a family, we kept a huge jar by the front door. At the end of each day when we all got home from school or work, we’d empty our pockets and purse of all change—not paper money, just coins.

At the end of the year, we converted the change into paper money. It paid for all of our meals (3 people) for the entire time we were gone (21 days).

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” —Robert Collier

Currently, what small effort are you repeating?


98 thoughts on “College on $1 Day

  1. What great advice, Laurie! Pennies add up too! 🙂 But just given the financial planner in me, I want to make sure that you are saving those college coins for Luna in a 529 Account via Idaho College Savings Plan! Those “coins”, as invested in the options of choice, earn tax-free returns, and in Idaho, are eligible as well for a very generous tax deducion of up to $12,000 as of 2017. It is amazing that you don’t really miss those dollars and coins dropped into a jar, or any designated monthly contribution to a 529 Account! And then while in your every day of living life, the earnings from monies invested in a 529 account just keep quietly accumulating! And bingo! In a few years out you are seriously seeing the magic of those dollars turning into an educational fund for Luna that either pays for her college education or makes a huge dent in student loans otherwise taken out by her! There can be no better gift to a grandchild! Good on you for using that jar to its best use!! 🙂

  2. I dedicate a bit of time each day to studying something new and languages as well. I’m not sure how much it is paying off, but it’s keeping my brain going. Great idea!

  3. I did a similar thingfor my son when he was born and every week I would deposit £5 in a bank account I opened for him. As he was older, he was given a child’s information and fun pack and that encouraged him to safe too. When I finally gave him access to it at aged 18, he had over £3000 in account!
    I also did it for myself a few years before saving all my tips for 2 years, which paid for my 2-week trip to Orlando and New Orleans!
    All the best with your jar for Luna: college is a very worthy cause! 👍

  4. See, you posted great wisdom and your first commenter gave you great investment advice free of charge. That’s how blogging works ~ and writing a book. You know all about that, of course! 🙂

  5. I saved $1 anytime I was given change (not so easy now as I use a card). After several months I had saved almost $300 in singles! Who knew? Now I currently repeat “Do I really need it” before I pull out the card.

  6. My small effort is walking the dog around the block each day, trying to build up my stamina and improve my posture after a round of back trouble. Hopefully I can increase the distance as time goes on.

  7. Exactly that! I did the same thing for the past nine months now – just coins collected in a bottle. And since a few days I can even use it as a dumbbell.

    All the best

  8. I use my checkbook for most bills, groceries, gas, etc. In the check register, I round up for expenditures and down for deposits, just the amount of the coin. So, if I write a check for $42.12, I deduct $43.00. If I deposit $10.56, I add in only $10.00. It makes the math easier and cuts down on errors. Plus, I end up with a “bonus” of about $400.00 a year

  9. I save what change I get, in a small jar because I learned the hard way coin is very heavy and a large jar becomes immovable – but I don’t get a lot of coins because I almost always use my credit card, which gives me cash bonus points so once a month I can buy something for free. Just about the same thing, right?

  10. Besides writing a bit every day, I need to apply a little bit of this to something time-consuming and on my procrastination list – clearing the clutter of papers in the shelves in my office and the files – although I have put a big dent in the files (I may need a bigger recycling bin for the overflow even with ripping or shredding it first) and some files are more organized. I also need to do the opposite for email – at least limit the time on that as it can get in the way with well, writing time.. Little secret here. I’m using a timer.

  11. My ongoing challenge is the old paper chase, i.e. culling, reorganizing & shredding, Every week I have a goal; divided into daily tasks.
    This weeks goal is organizing (stage one) 10 years of refuge board materials (see above) for: 1) writing organizational history; 2) turning over to an archival library. It may take a few weeks to gather any missing minutes etc. as well as shredding duplicates, recycling old folders, rack cards, etc.
    Writing the organization’s history will have to wait until my memoir is completed.

    I’ve already recycled mountains of bags (or so it seems) of shredded old work papers, week by week!

  12. Encouraging and inspirational stories, Laurie. Thank you for sharing those examples.
    You asked what I do…
    Each and every day I take one (at least) step to my goal to establish my author career.

  13. Love your story and reminder! We have a box for quarters only–my husband made the box. When it is filled it has close to $350 in it. We’ve emptied it 5-6 times over the years and put it in a savings account. My parents (farmers) always said they went around the world on the money they didn’t burn up in cigarettes. True, too! He also sold a couple of pigs when it came right down to showing up with the actual cash for the trip! This was 1967 and the stayed with many missionaries and others they had met or worked with over the years, so lodging and eats were not a big expense.

    • Melodie — I loved the stories you shared. Especially about the money that nonsmokers don’t spend on cigarettes. I’ve never smoked. That’s probably paid for a couple of vehicles in my lifetime 🙂

  14. It works – my son is entering Phd studies, without debt. Those dollars count up over the years. We forget that small acts of kindness, whether it is a dollar in a jar, or a encouraging word or smile, are treasures that give and keep on giving.

  15. Laurie, I’m heartened to know that you are planning now to overcome the awesome costs of college for Miss Luna. Dennis was able to pay for his son’s college education, the costs would stagger a new graduate trying to earn a living. My small effort consists of pecking away at the Meditation Garden at church. A vanity project to be sure, but I want to be able to leave this one thing so that when I depart this Earth, I will have left something lovely and a place of respite from our overly busy world.

  16. Great advice here on saving those coins and stacking them towards those big, seemingly impossible dreams.
    I do the Blogging A-Z April Challenge every year where you write posts every day except Sunday to a theme through the alphabet. Last year, I wrote about 55,000 words. That was much to excessive for the realms of the challenge but it did show me what I can pull off.
    As writers, it’s also important to consider the value of a few words and how that one, single well-chosen word, could have more impact than a thousand.
    I notice how daily practice of 30-60 minutes a day on my violin makes such an enormous difference and really turn you into a viable performer.
    Best wishes,

      • I read a post recently which brought up that quote: “Don’t sweat on the small stuff”. However, I’ve found that working on the small stuff over time, can really make a huge improvement and ignoring it could be a huge mistake.
        This week, I’ve spent hours at the dance studio watching the various classes for open week. My daughter is now 13 so she’s good and not far off a professional level and we’ve watched the next grade up so we can see where she’s headed as well. I do an adult ballet class, which is nowhere near her standard although we have a professional dancer who comes along and takes what we’re doing much further.
        It’s been interesting to watch her teacher make the slightest corrections to ensure they’re in exactly the right position. We’re talking about absolute perfection here and not a millimetre out.
        That as much as we might tell creatives that it doesn’t have to be perfect, when you’re striving for that professional elite levels be it as a writer, dancer, musician there is only perfection.
        This is one of the reasons I enjoy dance. I don’t expect perfection and stretch myself but still enjoy it.
        Best wishes,

      • Rowena — I love what you said ( working on the small stuff over time, can really make a huge improvement and ignoring it could be a huge mistake), and the examples you gave. Thank you for adding to the conversation 🙂

  17. What a fun idea and I am sure that Luna will appreciate the tuition payment in the future. We used a book called MONEY DOES NOT GROW ON TREES and it also had the kids paying taxes on their earning ( we started this when our youngest was 4) There were two trips to Japan with choir and one year in Denmark paid for with this system and also several years of church camp, swim camp, tennis camp and Girl Scouts. The girls also learned to invest in the stock market purchase, CDs and grow their savings. One is debt free at age 40, one has just a ways to go on her $200,000. Librarian degree, but she has purchased a house and car while doing that on her meager teacher salary and then we have one who is married to a saver though she buys and buys and buys. She is now saving for a house. I will say our debt free gal can not afford a house even with all her savings and investment – San Francisco and surrounding area is just out of her price range.
    Also 2 of my girls feel strongly that they can not afford to get married – We not only need a save jar but we need some comprehensive economic justice – and soon

  18. What a great example you are here, Laurie! I keep my change and every several years turn it in for spendable cash, but I’ve not been intentional with it as you’re describing. I need to rethink that, I’d say! 🙂 I don’t have a similar story to share, but I always have been the “eat the elephant (horrible old saying) one bite at a time” kind of person, so I suppose in almost everything I approximate the goal through small steps. I am a planner, so now that you’ve mentioned it, I need a goal for my accumulating change. It really does add up! 🙂

  19. At this time of year my small efforts in the April garden add up to beautiful flowers all summer. Each day I pot up several sprouts from my indoor garden table into larger pots and begin placing them outdoors in the daytime hours. In a few weeks they will be much larger and ready to go into the garden. If I did it all in one day there would be no enjoyment in the task. When I spread the chore out, it’s joy.

  20. I loved reading about your savings efforts, Laurie. What a treat that must have been!
    My small efforts are of a ‘mental’ state more so than physical, at the moment.
    I am planning a holiday. With each spare moment I am concentrating on researching the enjoyment of doing some things (adventures) I’ve not done before…
    Ooh, it is becoming quite the treat. I believe, because of this advance work, so to speak, I will be able to forge ahead and enjoy myself so much more!

  21. Such a lovely idea and doesn’t mount up quickly?
    My friend and myself save five pounds a week and when she comes to stay, or I go to stay, it pays for lunches and coffees out . It saves us fight over who pays because we are both generous and insist paying for each other .

  22. I’ve been using the “small habits” way for big gardening projects – but money works too. Although cash is becoming such a rarity. The idea still works if a person created an automatic transfer from their bank every month from checking to savings, even as low as $20.00 would add up.

    • K — I love how you’re applying “small habits” to gardening. That’s COOL! I also like the idea of using an automatic transfer. But my son is so visual, he likes to SEE the money building up in the giant glass jar 🙂

  23. my current small daily effort is also putting in a small amount of money in a box, since I started making bread at home the money which was spent in daily buying is now put in the box…the cost has reduced considerably and saving is rising…also I knit some rows every day of a baby blanket and find that I am reaching closer to finishing it..the third is writing daily notes jotting ideas and then working on them later…each day is precious

  24. Faith for All mankind teaches me that the remembrance of the Almighty the Creator of the Worlds whether by His names or in the heart and in prayers or through the saintly people who believed in Him brings peace to the mind heart and soul

  25. Needless to say that plan and previously ones you have elaborated on is a winner! We are presently making some deposits in a bank account for similar purposes.

  26. This is so nice! I have a fond memory of my dad and I counting out all the extra change we’d keep in a jar from throughout the year and it’d come to double digits and that was our ‘gas and road trip snacks’ money for us to go visit my grandmother a few states away!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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