Real stories about money from real people. Money Confessions, a SingSaver series, will excite you, inspire you, and leave you wishing to get financially woke.
Who knew this simple challenge led me to saving thousands of dollars?
A few years ago, I decided to look for new ways to save money. I was introduced to this S$5 note challenge in 2017 by my ex-girlfriend, and I’ve never looked back since.
In case you haven’t heard of it, the task is really simple — it just requires you to stash every spare S$5 note you come across.
This money-saving hack seems quite easy to follow, and it was a fool-proof way to save some moolah (because #adulting). Besides, I’ve always wanted to start a fun fund too, so I decided to do it as I was curious to see how much I could save in a year.
How much I saved in my first year of doing the S$5 bill challenge
My friends know that I am a cash queen, so cash is my preferred mode of payment. Whenever I get S$5 in change, I stash it aside. That said, if I get multiple S$5 bills a day, I choose if I want to stash them all or just keep one or two. I get S$5 in change around three to five times a week.
It isn’t a tonne of money, so I keep the notes in my drawer, separate from my piggy bank and wallet — I find that if I keep it in my wallet, I tend to spend it.
Time flew by, and in my first year of doing this challenge (2017 to 2018), I had racked up quite a sustainable amount of S$5 bills amounting to around S$800.
Previously, I would save all my S$5 notes and use it to treat myself to an expensive birthday gift. But since welcoming my dog, Emma, into the family in 2018, I’ve repurposed this pool of savings to fund her grooming expenses. Emma goes for grooming once every two months, each session costs S$75 and I’ve never had to fork out extra money — I just take it from my S$5 stash.
Times I have broken the rules
Honestly, I have hardly broken the rules. I’ve kept strict discipline in not checking my stash every other day (I’d just toss the note into the drawer and shut it), except perhaps once every couple of months when I do not have change, but want to tip the delivery person.
Wait… What happened to my fun fund?
Well, repurposing all my S$5 notes for Emma doesn’t mean I don’t have a fun fund any more — instead, I decided to start another challenge that involves me stashing away all the coins I get from change. This means that when I am out and receive coins as change, I don’t spend them.
When I come home, I’d deposit them all in my piggy bank (old-school, I know). The amount varies every day, and it takes between six to eight months to fill up my piggy bank. The last time it was filled, it held around S$250, which I used to fund my current gym membership.
Tips for people wanting to do this challenge
Just don’t get ahead of yourself and start attempting to stash your S$50 bills.
I feel that using S$5 notes is the best place to start, as it’s easier to put away smaller amounts of money. Sure, you can challenge yourself to save S$10 bills, but any higher than that is going to be pretty inconvenient, and you may find yourself withdrawing more money from the ATM instead.
Personally, I wouldn’t save S$2 notes either because we get that for change more often than S$5 notes. Imagine saving all the S$2 notes you receive as change — it isn’t sustainable and you will go broke just for trying to save!
As told to Kendra Tan
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By Kendra Tan
Avid promo code hunter and haggler. Kendra doesn’t like paying full price for anything. She’s the best person to bring along if you’re travelling on a budget. Have an interesting story to tell? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org