It all started when Marchale Burton overheard Alabama cooperative extension colleague Isaac Chappelle, coordinator of Alabama Saves, explaining how saving just a little bit – even change – is all it takes to become a saver. “I thought about that,” Burton said, “and wanted to see if it would work.” So, she challenged herself to see how much change she could save.
Burton decided that whenever she made a cash purchase, she would collect the change in her coin purse. When the coin purse gets too heavy, she puts the change into a large water cooler jug. Even when she gives cash to her husband, she insists on getting the change back from him. “Pennies matter,” she declared. Since October 2011, she has saved almost $1,100.
For Burton, seeing how much change she could convert to savings was a way to re-commit to her belief in saving. When she first signed up as an Alabama Saver, she pledged to save money toward retirement.
Saving lets you “see what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it,” Burton explained. She never thought she could save more than $1,000 in change. And she’s not stopping there. Her plan is to keep filling up her coin purse to see how much she can save before she retires. Beyond the monetary reward, Burton said putting aside money gives her confidence and a sense of security and freedom. “It’s empowerment,” she said.
Seeing pennies, dimes, and quarters add up has taught Burton that starting small can make a difference. “It doesn’t have to be a lot,” she advised. “Get started with $5 a month.” The key to building your savings is making it a routine. “I don’t think about my change until it’s time to put it in the jar,” she said.