Monday Motivation: How to Save (Real) Money with a Coin Jar

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mondaymotivation

motivationmondaysm It seems all of us have had a coin jar from time to time. I remember that my father had this massive whiskey bottle we used to fill up. We regularly filled it, counted it, and banked some serious cash each time. It was a family affair, a game even.

Nostalgia gripped me when I came across this post on Get Rich Slowly…

Get Rich Slowly – Personal Finance That Makes Sense. wrote:

“In January, I started an experiment, a savings experiment. The experiment was designed to save money for my “emergency cushion” account without feeling the loss from my pocket or budget. I figured I could probably save about $30 to $50 per month — not much, but not peanuts either. In six months, I hoped to save about $250.

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Last week, a month later than I’d originally intended, I deposited the money into my savings account. Before I did, I counted it up to see how much I’d accumulated. I had $723. Wow! And I’d managed to save all of that without even noticing.”

As they say in the marketing world–these result may not be typical. However, they could be.

Let’s see if we can formulate a strategy that will help you save real money with the coin jar savings method.

1. Pick the right coin jar

Make your coin jar as interesting as possible. I think this was part of the magic that made our childhood coin jar work. Here are a few specific features I suggest you look for in your coin jar:

  • See through, so your goal and progress is visibly motivating
  • Make it big so that the goal is worthy and rewarding
  • Narrow opening–to prevent easy raiding
  • Modify the lid to only have a coin slot (again, to avoid raids)

Having said that, don’t spend the next six months looking for the perfect jar. Or, heaven forbid buy one. Just get started!

Do you already have a unique coin jar story or picture? Share it in the comments.

2. Turn it into a game

Gamification is the hot new buzzword in the business and social media world. But, I think it’s an important element to making the “Coin Jar” savings plan work.

  • It’s gotta be fun
  • It’s gotta have rewards
  • It’s gotta encourage good behavior

My Dad got that part right. As kids we got a take of the booty and a trip to the toy store to spend it. As a result, we dutifully raided his night stand and pants pockets every night for spare change to get that whisky bottle filled!

What are other ways you can make saving spare change? Share with the community in the comments below.

3. Make the goal visible

We already talked about using a clear jar so that the goal is visible. Let’s take it a step further…

Make it the centerpiece in a heavily trafficked part of your home or apartment. Maybe it’s place close to the entry way so you make you deposit every time you come home. Or, possibly in your bedroom as you empty your pockets onto the dresser every evening. This will help ensure that your change gets to the coin jar.

If you’re even more clever (like my Dad was) you might try sticking prominently in the living room. Now he swears this was not a money-making gimmick, but it was a conversation piece. And in variably guests, friends, neighbors, even little friends of mine would regularly deposit coins in OUR money jar!

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How are you going to make your savings goal more visible? Feel free to add your ideas to the comments section.

4. Have Rules

You have to have rules. Money laying around or available in your pockets is just too tempting. Here are the rules I use:

  • Try to use cash more. Has other money-smart benefits too
  • When you pay with cash, never use your change
  • As soon as you get home, bill the coin jar
  • Don’t leave change in your car. It will disappear

What rules are you going to have on your coin jar savings plan? Add ‘em to the comments.

5. Set a Date

We always took the coins to the bank when the jar got full. However, I think it works better if you set a date. I use the end of each month. You can see how much room is left in the jar, but adding a date to the mix really frames the goal. This motivates you to get it filled faster, because who wants to take a mostly empty jar of coins to the bank–embarrassing.

Alright, you have a fresh new savings tactic…give it a try!