Have you ever found yourself walking along a sidewalk and a shiny radiance glimmers from the sun's reflection catching the attention of your eyes? And after curiosity's effective reaction process causes you to reach down and grab that shiny object, you realize that it's a penny. Or a nickel. Better yet, a quarter! For such a token of minimal worth, most pedestrians would ignore such a discovery and continue walking in the same direction toward their next intended destination. But what if you were to expend a little bodily effort and bend down to pick up that shiny coin and place it in your pocket? It stands to reason that you just increased your net worth by $0.25, or whatever amount you discover. "Who cares!" you might be instinctively inclined to react to the previous few sentences. "It's just a dumb coin. It's not like I can buy a coffee with it or anything." Well, I am of the opinion that picking up newfound coins on the ground can, first and foremost, cause people to experience a boost in happiness and satisfaction. And an additional benefit that directly corresponds with this sudden boost in life satisfaction is the knowledge that you've just increased your wealth.
The feeling of satisfaction that comes with finding a coin on the ground is similar to getting an annual bonus or a salary increase. Granted, a bonus of any substance might lead to grand thoughts such as, "Wow! Now I can put a down payment on that new car I've been thinking about buying!" A single coin's worth pales in comparison, but the thrill of discovery surely exists and occurs. More importantly, beyond the minimal wealth that stems from coin discoveries, the act of picking up a coin on the ground instills a healthy habit of saving money.
Saving money goes a very long way. Every one penny saved eventually leads to a dollar. And that dollar in turn eventually leads to twenty dollars. Pretty soon, it may become worthwhile to cash in all those coins collected from the street and deposit them into a bank account. In addition to having a few extra dollars in the bank account, now available for any trivial reward such as a pack of gum or a delicious Starbucks latte, just think about all of those increases in happiness that have been experienced for each "pick a penny" event experienced. The driving point of this blog entry is not to become a frugal, penny-pinching, coin-collecting, obsessive compulsive, neurotic maniac. Rather, it is an effort to show how simple, fun, and rewarding it is to save money and build wealth in the smallest of increments.
Think about the simple math of this concept in real-life terms. Imagine for a moment that, instead of finding a penny on the ground once a day, an automatic deposit of $50 went into your bank account each month. If no interest was added, that's an extra $600 at the end of the year. Each month would be the equivalent of a bonus to your personal account. This strategy can be applied to saving up for holiday gifts, a planned vacation, an emergency fund, a down payment on a house/car, or even a retirement account. Over a period of 40 years, $600 saved per year would work itself out to $ 24,000. Even more impressive are the results that would have been achieved if this money was invested in the stock market. Over a period of 40 years making an average of 8% per year, $600 saved per year equals out to roughly $180,000.
All in all, it's not about the pennies that you find on the ground, but the satisfaction that you feel after discovering new money-and that includes money that you discover in your bank account after years of appreciating and compounding in value over a long period of time. And just to think that you created all this extra wealth for yourself from a simple act of saving a mere $50 per month.