How Do You Take Your Hundreds?

by Kelly · 16 comments

in Money & Spending

My mother sent me an email the other day and, although I’m not quite sure why she sent it to me, I found it intriguing.

Okay, My Children,
Which would you rather have?
twenty $5 bills
five $20 bills
one $100 bill
yo’ mama

Now this could be a promise of money, although I highly doubt it. Nor is it likely to be a math quiz. If it’s one of those pop psychology emails making the rounds, she forgot to include the answer key. It could be her latest savings plan, like this woman who saved $12,000 by saving her $5 bills. Or maybe she just wanted to be mentioned on Almost Frugal.*

Whatever her reason for sending it to me, I think it’s an interesting question and I suspect that our seemingly simplistic answers actually give a great bit of detail about our personal finance philosophy.

I chose to ‘take’ one one hundred dollar bill. When I have a larger bill like $50 or $100 (never actually having seen anything larger) I am extremely reluctant to break it. The likelihood of me actually making it to the bank to deposit the money into my savings account would be very high. But then again, there are people like the woman cited above, who turn small amounts into large savings. What my answer reveals, I think, is how much I lack the trust in myself to manage my money well. Even with starting out with equivalent amounts, I have no faith that I would achieve the same results. This is something that I’m aware of, and struggling to overcome, if slowly, very very slowly.

Which choice would you make and why? What does your choice say about how you manage money or your financial fears?

*Let’s see if we can get her to comment, shall we?


1 Emily September 3, 2008

At first glance, I was with you, Kelly. Larger bill = more restraint. But then, I’d be more likely to buy a bigger ticket item with a Franklin, and since there isn’t any big ticket items I really NEED right now, that may translate into the “wasting money” zone.

Interesting question, thanks for making me spin my gears at 7am (before my coffee, I might add). 🙂

Emily’s last blog post..First Day of School Pictures

2 Judy September 3, 2008

I can hang onto big bills FOREVER…the smaller ones are so easy to spend. So, I’d take the $100 bill. And fold it up and hide it in my wallet.

Judy’s last blog post..Home

3 neimanmarxist September 3, 2008

see, i would have said the fives because that is the choice currency at the farmer’s market 🙂 i wonder what that says about me. that i like the farmer’s market? that i can’t wait to spend money on food ? how embarrassing.

neimanmarxist’s last blog post..Ten Reasons You Should Learn To Cook

4 Amiyrah September 3, 2008

I would choose the 5 twenties, because, well, I know that once I use one, I will have some singles coming back to me. I have been saving my singles since march so I now try to find a way to always get some back. I hope to one day save 12,000 like that lady but I’m content with my 175 dollars I’ve saved in the last 5 months just by throwing my singles in an old fish bowl at the end of the day. At the end of every month, I make sure I deposit the singles in my special ING account so i’m not tempted to use it for anything else. I used to love to get large bills for the same reason as you, but now that I have a purpose for my small bills and have found the joy of saving, I welcome all small bills….and change too! I save that as well…

Amiyrah’s last blog post..August monthly totals

5 Amphritrite September 3, 2008

I would take two fifties, myself, if that were an option. Since it’s not, I’d go with the $100 and stick it in my freezer and forget about it until I NEEDED money.

I use a lot of tricks like the one you describe above:
1. I keep all my silver, except quarters, in my car for meters.
2. I keep all my quarters in my apartment for laundry.
3. I save all my $1 bills for fun money.
4. I save all my $5 bills for savings.
5. I save any $50s or $100s that I get for emergencies.
6. Any odd money I get ($2 bills or silver dollars) are put toward my debts.
7. Any “free” money I get (birthdays and holidays, when I sell something or get a rebate) are immediately put toward my debts.
8. I use the Paid Twice principle – if I splurge on something, I have to be willing to pay the price into my debts as well.
9. I also transfer the amount I saved at the bottom of my receipts to my debt.

Amphritrite’s last blog post..He who Rules the Spice, Rules the World

6 Kelly September 3, 2008

@Amphritrite Wow, am I impressed!

7 Dana September 3, 2008

It would be best if I could get it by direct deposit. If I touch it, I will spend on something I shouldn’t!

Dana’s last blog post..Back from the Magical World of Disney

8 Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 4, 2008


I am like you and would have chosen the $100 and would have immediately taken it to the bank. I guess that means that I do not trust myself with the smaller bills either (LOL, I never thought about it that way)

Roshawn @ Watson Inc’s last blog post..Billionaire Success Lessons: Why Tiger Deserves To Be The First Billionaire Athlete!

9 Randy September 4, 2008

When I read the note, my first impression was that she was asking you to choose between her or one of several forms of cash.

Personally, I would probably take the 5 $20 bills, as it strikes me as the best balance between convenience and a minimal amount of physical bills.

Given the way I read it, I assume you would choose your mom. 🙂


Randy’s last blog post..Save Hundreds on Your Next Pair of Glasses

10 mom September 4, 2008

Well, if I told Kelly (and Paul) why I asked the question, it would take away the surprise. But, I will say to all of you that I love saving money and I have enjoyed…and incorporated some of your saving techniques into my little caches (cashes!). In fact, I recently started savings $5. But, that wasn’t enough. So, I started saving $10 in the same envelope. (I use the envelope technique…each one designated to a different budget…gardening…housekeeping, &c.) I managed to save $175 in the month of August and I was trying to figure out for what I was saving when I had to make a run to the neighborhood AppleStore. Et voila! I am now saving for a new computer. Because by the time I have enough money for a new laptop, my present one will be about 6 years old (which as we all know in computerland, is very, very old indeed). Anyway. You all don’t really want to hear from me. But I just want to say bravo to each and every one of you for being in control of your lives. That alone is worth the experience! And, I must say that I am an oh-so-proud mama of my very wonderful daughter who is doing a better and better blog all the time.

In good spirit,


11 FruGal September 4, 2008

I think I’d go with the $100 too. I would think so much harder before breaking it. Those $5 just disappear out of my purse!

FruGal’s last blog post..Should homeowners be bailed out?

12 Jess September 4, 2008

I am the same way, I like larger bills because I’m more reluctant to break them. I’m much more likely to hand over a five or one dollar bill!

Jess’s last blog post..Wednesday’s Featured Mamas: Jennifer, Sarah and Winter from Punkymoms!

13 Erica M September 5, 2008

I’m like you. I’d take the $100 bill so I’d be less likely to spend it!!!

14 Frugal Trenches September 6, 2008

She commented :0)

I’d take the $100 and take it straight to the bank!!

Frugal Trenches’s last blog post..Emergency Fund Goals!

15 Revanche September 12, 2008

I’m with Frugal Trenches! Tuck that $100 in my wallet and go to the bank.

Revanche’s last blog post..Nooo, stay good Wamu! Don’t fail, stay good!

16 VegFrugalHousewife September 13, 2008

I certainly would take the $100 bill as well. I am more likely to make it to my savings account with that one. But then again, $100 buys a lot of yarn and a lot of cooking supplies. I agree, can I get a direct deposit with that? 😉

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