It's probably a bad sign that my approach to saving money involves spending money.
I like to congratulate myself on "zero spending days," those rare occasions when I don't eat out or waste my money on something.
Of course, those days don't protect my bank account when I blow hundreds of dollars on clothes or something for my apartment.
If you know my pain, Marie C. Franklin could help. The college professor came up with a brilliant way to save money every day, and she's living proof that it actually works.
The Power Of Five
Like plenty of other parents, Franklin became interested in saving money once her children left high school.
Both of Franklin's daughters were in college at the same time, so saving as much cash as possible became a necessity.
Instead of relying on a complicated saving plan, Franklin came up with a simple but very clever scheme: she would save one $5 bill each day.
"It was, simply, the only way I could manage to save even a small amount of money while shouldering, along with my husband, the responsibility of financing their college educations," Franklin explained.
It sounds too good to be true, but it's important to know Franklin wasn't "saving" these bills in her wallet for a rainy day.
She put the saved cash aside and "refused to spend it under any circumstance." And the money piled up very quickly.
"Within weeks, I had a nice little stash, more than $200. Then $350. Then $500," Franklin remembered. "By the end of the first year, I had saved almost $2000."
Over the last 13 years, Franklin says she has piled up a nest egg of more than $50,000 - just through her "power of five" plan.
Why Starting Small Matters
Franklin has fans who practice her saving scheme with $10 or $20 bills, but she says that keeping things small is key.
In her mind, it's "easier to put away smaller amounts of money," and experts seem to agree.
The money-saving app Acorns ran a study using 3,400 of their users: one group was invited to save $5 a day, while the other was in invited to save $150 a month.
To be clear, that's the same amount of money, but the small "daily" saving plan was much more popular.
Acorns CEO Nathan Kerner said 30% of users joined the $5 plan, while only 7% joined the $150 plan.
Focusing on saving a small amount every day seems well-suited to our psychology, which means you might have more success with a smaller plan.
And don't forget that more savings in a bank account means more interest, so your savings grow and grow.
Show Me The Money
Yes, it took Franklin more than a decade to save over $50,000.
But with such a small daily investment, that's pretty quick.
Think of it this way: one $5 every day is worth an extra $1,825 each year.
Franklin's favorite example is a 25-year-old who starts following her daily plan. By age 75, they'll have an extra $91,000 tucked away - before interest.
Savings guru Michael Taylor, who wrote the book The Financial Rules for New College Graduates, also preaches the $5 daily saving rule.
He says it's the easiest way to become a "guaranteed millionaire" as long as you start early enough.
Taylor explains that if you save $5 a day in an account with a 10% annual return, you'll make $330,000 in just 10 years.
By 50 years, you'll have tucked away $2.3 million in spare bills. Did you even think that was possible? I'm definitely inspired to start saving now!