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This One Easy Trick Can Save You Hundreds of Dollars

Daily deposits of small change can help you save hundreds of dollars a year.
Image: A jar full of coins
A jar full of coinsVstock LLC / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

If a penny saved is a penny earned, then medical transcriptionist Leca Good is earning big. She’s participating in the “Penny Jar Challenge.”

Here’s how it works: Every day for a year (365 days), Good puts pennies in a jar equivalent to the number of days she has spent on the challenge.

Day 1 = 1 penny

Day 10 = 10 pennies

Day 50 = 50 pennies

Day 100 = $1

Day 250 = $2.50

Day 365 = $3.65

The pennies add up. By the end of the year, the Kansas mom should have at least $667 in her jar.

“If you just stay on top of it … you’ll just be excited to realize you saved that much in a year,” Good tells NBC News BETTER.

“I’ve learned that I can save — I can totally in small, measurable amounts — I can save it and leave it alone.”

Why it works

Good said the challenge is an easy way to save because the daily deposits are small.

“I think because you start off with such a little amount and it’s increased with such a little amount every day that it just becomes a habit,” she says.

Even your last deposit at the end of 365 days is going to be small, says Good.

“I mean by the time the last deposit you put in, it’s going to be $3.65,” she says, noting that’s about what you might spend on a beverage at Starbucks.

Stay consistent

The transcriptionist started her first Penny Jar Challenge in January 2016 as a New Year’s resolution. To simplify the math, Good created a calendar that told her exactly how much she needed to deposit each day. (If you don’t want to do the math yourself, you can find free printable charts online for download.)

Image: Leca Good holds a jar with change
Leca Good holds a jar with change.Courtesy Leca Good

“I was like ‘Alright, I’m going to do this, I’m going to stick with it every day,’ and I did,” she recalls.

The challenge for Good was remembering to make deposits, but she turned it into a habit by tossing money in at the same exact time every day.

“I would just say to stay consistent with it every day because if you get behind it does kind of feel like a pain in the rear to get caught up,” she says.

The more money she saved, the more excited she was to put money in. Sometimes she’d even tossed in extra.

“I was like ‘I’m going to make it, I got a whole jar full, I am going to make it!’ So it just got to be more exciting at the end to see the jar get fuller and seeing that I’m really going to do this and I’m going have this nice little chunk of money,” she says.

On the last day of the challenge, Good lugged $700 worth of change — more than she anticipated — to the bank. She put it towards a Los Vegas vacation with her husband.

“I didn’t use any credit cards on our trip because I had that $700 — it was more than enough,” she says.

Keep your change in a large jar or container

If you use a small jar to store your change, it will get full faster, which may tempt you to cash it in too soon, according to the 45-year-old.

“One of my friends manages a convenience store so she saved me one of the huge containers that their pickle relish comes in,” says Good. “And I actually had that container and another container half full.”

Good recommends never having more than $10 worth of cash in your jar or you might be tempted to pilfer your savings. At that point, it’s a good idea to exchange dollar bills for quarters, she says.

“It doesn’t seem like that much if you have to take a couple dollar bills out, but if you have to count out quarters you’re less [likely] to raid your jar,” she explains.

Post your progress on social media

Good started the Facebook group Penny Challenge 2017 in January. She said it’s encouraging to see people posting about their penny jars and the progress they make throughout the year.

“It’s just fun to help other people and it’s fun to kind of meet them,” she says.

Good said she struggled to save before she started the challenge. Now she’s a bonafide penny pincher.

“I’ve learned that I can save — I can totally in small, measurable amounts — I can save it and leave it alone,” she says.

Good plans to put the money she is currently saving towards a cruise with her husband and son.

“I just tell people if you do it one year I think you’ll be addicted to it,” says Good. “I can’t imagine ever not doing it now because it’s so easy and it’s fun.”

How to do the “Penny Jar Challenge”

  • Every day for a year, throw spare pennies in a jar. The number of pennies should be equivalent to the number of days you are on in the challenge (Day 1 = 1 penny; Day 2 = 2 pennies; Day 3 = 3 pennies, and so on).
  • The amounts will get larger as the days go by. Keep a calendar or chart that tells you exactly how much to put in your jar each day.
  • Stay consistent. By putting the change in your jar at the same time each day, you’ll turn it into a habit.
  • Use a large jar or container and avoid using bills. You won’t be as tempted to spend your money or cash it in early.
  • Post your progress on social media. It’s a great way to encourage yourself and others to keep saving.