Don’t Underestimate the Little Things

by Ryan Guina

When I was in high school I went to a friend’s house to work on a group project. I arrived early and we went to his room to wait for the rest of the group to arrive. While we were games on his PlayStation (yes the original PlayStation ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I noticed the change jar on his dresser and mentioned he must have a small fortune in change. He didn’t think so, and I asked him how much he thought he had.

“$30 or $40” was his reply.

I offered him $40 for the jar and he accepted without hesitation.

“Are you sure,” I asked?


I said, OK, but we had better count it first. By the time the last member of our group showed up, we counted $130 in change and we only counted half the nickels and none of the pennies. After we finished our group project we all gathered our things to leave. My friend told me to wait and he went to get the jar of change. I told him to keep it and put it in the bank.

The following week he told me he opened a savings account. This was before the days of high interest online savings accounts, and I think he was only earning about 1.2% interest. It probably wasn’t the highest interest rate possible, but at least it was a start.

Fast forward 10 years. I went home this summer to watch my sister’s high school graduation and I called up my friend. We met up for dinner and when I tried to pay, he insisted on picking up the tab. His reason? Before the night of our group project, he never thought twice about saving money. After opening his savings account, he began saving earnestly and graduated college without debt.ย  He is now doing very well financially.

Small things adds up – sometimes enough to make a big difference in your life. All it takes is making that first step.

Published or updated April 12, 2013.
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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 klein

So true. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but my life truly changed after I started to ‘pay myself first’.

If you take that first 10% out of every check and put it into a savings account, it adds up really fast. And if you feel like you aren’t making enough after deducting that, then it’s time to find a second job or cutting out a bill or two. The answer is not to stop saving.

Now, I wish I could say that I never spend any of that savings, but with certain dental and car costs, it is money that I’m glad to spend as needed. I would never have it if I hadn’t started saving.


2 Kristen

What a great story! I’ll definitely share that one. It also makes me wonder if there’s a lot more money in my big change jar than I thought …


3 Jarhead

Change jars are great. I have one that I keep in my room (I also put the leftovers from my weekly allowance in there as well so it isn’t all change). I use the money from that at Christmas to help me pay for gifts. The extra money makes Christmas a little less stressful on the budget and Credit Cards.


4 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

That is a COOL story! It works in reverse as well. Little leaks sink great ships was what my grandmother told me. Those tiny little expenditures on “nothings” will come back to haunt you…and did they really give you that much enjoyment?


5 deepali

That’s awesome. In a random corrollary – I finally started going through my change jar. I thought I had maybe $40 in there…. turns out, it’s mayeb $20 if I’m lucky. Guess I’m too optimistic. ๐Ÿ™‚


6 Jarhead

I must agree with Ron. 2 years ago my bills were less than they are now but with all the partying and just freely spending I wasn’t getting ahead. Now that I have established somewhat of a budget and monitor my spending my debt is going down vice going up.


7 KellyB

Really a fantastic story! Such a small incident, but literally changed someone’s entire life! Very cool!


8 Ryan

“Little leaks sink great ships” very true, Ron!


Paying yourself first is one of the best things you can do! And by the sound of it, you are setting yourself up for success and only using your savings for necessary expenses and not for a night out on the town. That’s a great way to do it! ๐Ÿ™‚


9 Mrs. Micah

Awesome! It really makes a difference when you see how things add up.

My roomie had a tip jar that she used to pay for her books at college. It was mostly singles but there were a lot of singles in there (she was a waitress & dumped her tips in it when she got loan).

On the other hand, my penny jar is less impressive. ๐Ÿ˜‰


10 Laura

I loved this story! My brother in law had a couple of hundred of dollars in his change jar. When he realized how much it was, he took it to the bank.


11 Scott @ The Passive Dad

I have great memories of counting coins as a child. I still remember taking the coins to the bank and carrying my savings passbook. Thanks for the stories and good memories.


12 tiffanie

what a great and inspirational story! goes to prove that all it takes is one small step for a possibly high turnaround! ๐Ÿ™‚


13 ConnieB

Good for you! Sometimes we never really realize the impact that a small action of ours can have on those around us. You did your friend a real favor!


14 Kelly from Almost Frugal

This post has been chosen to be in the 69th Carnival of Money Stories at Almost Frugal, going live July 22nd, 2008. Donโ€™t forget to link back to the Carnival!


15 fathersez

I think the impact of counting the money and finding it to be more than 3 times what your friend thought it was must have made a deep impact.

And the fact that you willingly let go of his acceptance of your offer also made an impact.

These 2 things combined to create the change in his direction.

You can chalk one up to lives you have touched and changed.


16 Value For Your Life

Now THAT is a great story about friendship. I believe that when you are willing to give with an open heart, you attract even better things into your life.


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