How to Save $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion dollars)

Step 1: Realize that we can’t really tell the difference between large numbers.

Once we understand that we can’t really tell the difference between large numbers, we have a chance of starting to save those big numbers.

… which means you get to buy more ice cream cones, socks, or ball point pens. 🙂

Here’s the skinny: Our brains are incapable of understanding large numbers, except vaguely by analogy.

Like it or not, we can’t really grasp the difference between 10000,  270375,  42000000, and 870000000.  Heck, we can barely even fathom a number like 325.  Go ahead – try to fully fathom 325 of anything (sea gulls, pebbles, songs, sandwiches, whatever) and see if you can simultaneously think about all 325…

High digit mathematics is a relatively new phenomenon in terms of human history.  Multiplication only really became useful once cities and agriculture (and taxes) flourished, which was perhaps only 200 generations ago(5000 years @25 years per generation = 200 generations = the distance between you and your grandparent x 100)  (not much, really).  Ancient Indian civilization had high-powered multiplication, but that was mainly to ‘calculate’ the extent and grandeur of symbolic magesties, where ‘impressive and big’ was more important than comparing specific massive numbers.

This inability to understand massive numbers is a major reason we keep making such colossally stupid decisions when it comes to personal finance (we fret over $2 price differences on some items, yet splurge on some 1000-times more expensive thing 2 weeks later) and government finance (trillion dollar “bail outs”/”free for alls”/”trying to solve our problems by inflating them away.”)

We let these things happen because we don’t get outraged because we don’t really understand how stupid our stupid decisions are.

To begin to fathom what $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion dollars) looks like, consider this great piece from Pagetutor.  Then, start figuring out how to start making smarter decisions.

Reposted from: pagetutor.comAll this talk about “stimulus packages” and “bailouts”…A billion dollars…A hundred billion dollars…Eight hundred billion dollars…One TRILLION dollars…What does that look like?I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I’d take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars lookslike.We’ll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.


A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.


Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

$1,000,000 (one million dollars)

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet…

$100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)

And $1 BILLION dollars… now we’re really getting somewhere…

$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)

Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.

You ready for this?

It’s pretty surprising.

Go ahead…

Scroll down…

Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 trillion dollars

$1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)

(And notice those pallets are double stacked.)

So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about

10 Ways to Save $12,000

Added up, these 10 ideas get you deeper & deeper into this chart:

Money Savings Ideas

Saved money can add up quickly, so let’s get started:

1 – Get a Free Library Card

Entrepreneurs have an insatiable thirst for novelty and information. Quench this thirst with a library card instead of your wallet. You can still buy items for your personal library later on (items you’ve checked out of the library 3 times), but 90% of the stuff you buy or think you want you’ll never end up reading/watching again.

Most libraries will charge you a few bucks for a card, but if you cite “financial constraints”, they’ll give it to you for free. Also, most libraries have “inter-library loans”, so that even the smallest suburban branches have access to the entire collection. Then, fulfill your need for information on the public’s tab. Reserve best-sellers or TV series online. They’ve got almost everything you can imagine.

Monthly Savings: $200 or more

2 – Cut Your TV Package and 2 Cell Phone Features

Cutting your cable or satellite TV package will have a dramatic effect on your life – you’ll have more free time, more energy, plus you’ll be smarter and happier. Trust me, its true. To rebalance your life, explore internet videos and a local library.

Cutting the most useless features on your phone package is something you won’t miss. Endless voicemail, bundled text messages, the data package you never use… these can all turn into $’s you can use on something else way more fun.

Monthly Savings: $50 – $150 per month

3 – Drop Your Land Line & Long Distance Packages.

Get Skype for all long distance calls, get a Skype phone number or mailbox, encourage regular contacts to install Skype as well (so your conversations become free), buy a $30 headset, and chuck your landline for good. Use your cell phone “in case of emergency” and have them call you on your free incoming minutes. You will never look back.

Monthly Savings: $50 – $100

4 – Lower Your Rent

If you can’t afford where you’re living, move somewhere $200/month cheaper. Pretty straight-forward, eh?

Monthly Savings: $200 or more

5 – Drive an Older Car and Live Where You Work

Daily commuting costs an incredible amount of time and money – something often visible only once you’ve stopped doing it. 25 minutes to get to work… $75 gas… Arranging to get the oil changed… $400 car payment…

Instead, buy an older import with no depreciation that does at least 40 MPG (mine does 55), move to within walking distance of you daily destinations, and park your car. Rent a car for that once a year trip where reliability matters.

If you’re trying to impress people with your automobile, impress them with stories of the foreign excursions you took with that money instead.

Monthly Savings: $500 or more

6 – Drink Water for Lunch

$0 drink per day multiplied by 20 working days per month = $0

$2-10 drink per day multiplied by 20 working days per month = $40 – $200

Monthly Savings: $40 – $200

7 – Brew Your Own Coffee

Brewing your own coffee = almost nothing

$2-10 drink per day multiplied by 20 working days per month = $40 – $200

Monthly Savings: $40 – $200

8 – Sell High – When your stocks go up in value (perhaps well above their previous highs), and you’re thinking, “Yes! I’m about to become a millionaire,” stop being such a moron and take your cash while you can. Letting your stocks plummet in value is a really easy way to lose money. If you don’t want to follow your stocks daily, set stops so that you don’t have to. But regardless, don’t just sit around and lose your shirt.

Monthly Savings: Only you know this number

9 – Learn to Cook Gourmet

Cut out one fancy dinner per week and you’ll easily save $200 a month, especially if you like to entertain guests. If you’re relying on a restaurant for romance to impress the ladies, they like it better when you cooked it yourself 😉

Monthly Savings: $200 or more

10 – Make Your Own Wine/Beer.

The first kit won’t save you much money, but it will still be cheaper than any sale in town. Subsequently, wine will cost you approximately $2/bottle and beer even less.

Making wine or beer is best done in good company (as your drinking should be!) Aside from ensuring fun throughout the whole process, if everyone does their own kit but you all split the results, you get a variety of products and minimize the risk of a ruined batch.

If you’re having a company party, this is an easy way to cut costs and do team-building (the brewing process) as well.

Depending on how much you drink and how much you pay, this can save:

Monthly Savings = (X*Y) – (X*$2)

…where (bottles/month = X) and ($/bottle = Y)

Adding Things Up

Take the amount of money you’ve saved with each of the 10 items above, put it in the “Monthly Savings” column, and see how much you can save.

Money Savings Ideas

After 6 months or several years, these savings can really add up.  The trick is to do the math and let time elapse. Then there are many ways to reach $12,000.

Simple, eh?