Struggling to save money? You’re in good company as almost 10% of Americans have zero personal savings at all. If this is your situation, the problem might just be that you’re finding it hard to visualize how much you’re spending and how much you’re able to set aside.
If spreadsheets or numbers on a piece of paper don’t work for you, and digital banking just doesn’t seem real, then using a savings jar strategy could be a game-changer for your finances.
Basics of the save money jar challenge
There are multiple strategies you can use to save money with a jar, but they all have one thing in common. The jar!
This guide will talk you through a number of different saving challenges, which all rely on placing a set amount of cash into one or more jars. The strategies all allow you to form a better connection with your dollars, and force you into being more responsible with how you’re spending or saving.
Each of the challenges needs one or more jars. These should always be see-through, glass or plastic, so you can keep a close eye on the progress you’re making. As the weeks and months go on, you’ll feel incredibly motivated to keep pushing on and reach those savings goals.
You might choose a clean jam jar, pasta jar or use a taller masonry jar.
Different types of savings jar challenges
This guide will introduce you to five top savings challenges, all of which use a jam jar. Read on to learn more about:
- The 52-week money challenge
- The change challenge
- The payday plan
- The motivation challenge
- The $20 a week plan
Take some time to learn more about each of these challenges and work out which you feel most drawn to. You might be tempted to try out more than one jar challenge at once to speed up your savings, but it’s best to start with just one to stick to. If it’s going well then consider adding another in down the line.
The only proviso? Once the money goes into the jar, it doesn’t come out until you’ve reached your savings goal!
Choosing your goal
Setting a tangible savings goal is exactly what using a money-saving jar is all about. Make sure you have a figure in your mind that you want to achieve and then tailor your step-by-step challenge towards meeting this goal.
You might want to do some research into the cost of the item you’re saving up to buy, or pick a number which would offer you financial security if you hit an emergency.
The 52-week money challenge
With the 52-week money challenge, you’ll slowly increase the amount of money you save each week and continue until you’ve reached your goal at the end of the year.
You don’t need to begin in January, although this would certainly make a great New Year’s Resolution. At any point in the year, you start by banking $1 straight into your money jar. The following week, place $2 in, the third week you place $3 and so on.
It may not sound like a lot of money, particularly in your first month but over the course of a year, you can expect to make $1,378 in savings. And who couldn’t use that, right?
The biggest barrier with this goal is that by the twelfth month of your challenge, you’ll need to find a way to save $49, $50, $51 and $52 dollars each week which may be tricky. This strategy will teach you to plan ahead and also encourages you to keep going. By the time the saving gets tough, you’ll already have a pile of cash stored in your jar which will make you want to commit.
The change challenge
This is a really traditional method which relies on you plunging any change you receive straight into your jar. Simply place your money-saving container in a convenient location, such as in your kitchen, or in your hall.
Every time you arrive home and empty your coins out of your pocket, make sure they go straight into your jar.
The downside is that you won’t have any change on you the next time you go out. But you’ll also be less likely to waste money too if you need to visit an ATM to take out more cash to splurge on unnecessary items.
The payday plan
How often are you paid? And how long does it take after payday before your bank account is back down to zero again?
The payday challenge focuses on setting aside a certain amount of your earnings and cashing it straight into your jar so you can’t spend it. For this, you’ll need to have drawn up a budget which is always a good idea when tackling savings jar ideas.
Work out how much you need for essentials such as bills, groceries, rent etc. Next, decide how much you wish to spend on non-essentials like entertainment. The amount you’re left with can go straight into your money savings jar each payday.
Be strict and remember the top condition: once it goes in the jar, it stays in the jar!
The motivation challenge
Do you have a really clear idea in your mind about what you’re saving up for? Is it a holiday, a car, an iPad, an engagement ring?
Whatever your goal is, it really helps psychologically if you research the item in-depth and print off a vivid photo or representation of it. The bigger, the better so you can’t ignore it!
Place your photo next to your money-saving container and make sure it’s in a central position in your household. Every time you feel inspired by the picture, you can contribute to your jar.
For maximum impact, print off loads of pictures so you don’t forget your goal. Stick them everywhere, from your bathroom mirror to your car. You’ll be inspired to stick to your savings goal throughout your day.
This is a savings plan that works really well in combination with another strategy such as the 52-week goal. If it’s a household goal, then get everyone in the family involved and you’ll feel a joint sense of achievement when you hit your goal.
The $20 a week plan
Some quick math will tell you that $20 a week will make you $1,040 over the course of the year. Is that enough to help you reach your goal?
If not, then the challenge can be scaled upwards to $30, $40 or even $50 a week. Or scaled down to $10 if you have a smaller aim in mind. The great thing about money-saving jar ideas is that they’re really versatile, so it’s all about using numbers that work for your specific goals.
Sticking with $20 a week for the standard version of the plan, the idea is that you simply commit to setting this aside and placing it in your jar. This may be relatively easy in your first week after being paid but if you know the second week will be harder, then plan ahead.
You may need to commit to some frugal living ideas to help you stay on track, perhaps switching energy suppliers to reduce your bills or doing some meal planning to slash your grocery costs. There are plenty of money-saving tips you can follow, even if you’re on a super tight budget.
Scaling up your save money jar challenge
The great thing about using a container to save money is that this strategy can be started in childhood with a piggy bank to teach excellent savings habits. As you grow up, the same principles apply when you use money savings jars for adults instead.
The basic strategy of learning how to set money aside, and tailoring your budget to make sure you meet those goals can be used for digital savings too. Once you’ve successfully completed your jar challenge, why not try using the same method with your digital banking apps too? You can use standing orders to automate the process so you’re more likely to commit and you’ll earn interest on your banked savings.
Using a money jar is a great recipe for success but only if you have a clear financial goal in sight. To help set your goal, use the SMART method which stands for:
- Specific (know exactly what you’re working towards)
- Measurable (what amount will you need to save?)
- Achievable (is this a realistic savings goal?)
- Relevant (is your goal relevant to your situation?)
- Time-bound (how long will it take to reach your goal?)
Now you know the basics of how to save money in a jar, it’s time to get started. Decide what you’re working towards, work out how much you need to save, pick a plan and pick a jar. It’s as simple as that.
For more top money-saving tips, check out The Finances Hub blog now.