Yesterday I asked Facebook and Twitter followers to immediately transfer $37 from their checking accounts into their savings accounts without asking questions. While at first this message was reminiscent of a Nigerian prince asking you to send him a money order in exchange for great wealth, it was actually a Pete the Planner diabolical experiment. How many people would follow these directions? And of those that did, how many people would realize the point of the exercise?
No matter who you ask, I think that everyone would agree that $37 is about as arbitrary a number as you can get. It won’t, in itself, help you retire. It won’t, in itself, replace the brakes on your car if they were to go out. But when you take numerous amounts of arbitrary and insignificant amounts of money and put them together, then you actually start to make financial progress.
Generally speaking, people don’t save money because they forget about saving money. If people are prompted to save money on a random occasion, then they are more likely to see the ease of doing so. At last count, yesterday’s experiment saved nearly $2,000 based on those who let me know that they went through with the exercise. That’s pretty decent for such an insignificant and arbitrary amount of money.
The best thing you can do is this: don’t kill kittens. The second best thing you can do is this: setup a reoccurring transfer from checking to savings on a set day every month. Start with a small arbitrary amount of money, and then gradually increase it. For other great tips like this, pick up a copy of 60 Days to Change. I know, that was a choppy segue. Oh well.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.
3 thoughts on “The $37 experiment”
I didnt follow your directions even though I saw your post. I decided to be a deviant 🙂 Anyways great points in the blog. I would go a step further and make the transfer coincide with your direct deposit. My account is setup to auto transfer a small dollar figure at the same time as my direct deposit goes in. You never have it in your account so you never “miss” it. The real trick is not re-transferring it back to checking to get that Coach iPhone case or an iPhone period 🙂
What about cats. Is it OK to kill cats?
My husband and I set it up so my paycheck is direct deposited into savings, and his into checking. This has been working really well for us! If we ever need to dip in to savings, we just do a transfer. If I had to manually move money into savings, I wouldn’t do it!