Maybe you had a coins jar at some point in the past, possibly when you were a child, and like me you might have looked at it in anticipation every time you put in a coin, hoping that single penny would somehow magically fill up the jar to the top… or at least get you to your savings goal in order to buy that new Nintendo game… I at least had one as a child and definitely enjoyed the process of saving up and seeing my little nest egg grow. But despite reading about coins jars on many money and finance blogs, I never started this in my adult life, as I wasn’t convinced or indeed saw the point of it, as I didn’t think those coins would ever get me anywhere near my savings targets with the amount of change I’d put in.
That was until recently when I read about this concept again in MJ DeMarco’s book “The millionaire Fastlane”. DeMarco agrees that a coins jar, or a change bucket as he calls it, won’t actually make you rich and definitely won’t make you a millionaire. But he does express two advantages that having a coins jar can give:
- First of all it will build up a habit of thinking about your money, becoming aware of what is happening with your money and how it is spent.
- Secondly and most importantly, with every coin that you put in, you reinforce the goal that you are working towards to, it reiterates that you are in control and it brings you one (however small) step closer to your goal. (And since we certainly like taking small steps here, that idea completely resonated with me!)
So yes, maybe today you only put in 5 cents, but because you reminded yourself of your goal by doing this, and because you thought about your own responsibility in terms of achieving, you were also motivated to make a wise financial decision, or maybe you were able to hold off spending money on an impulse expense. With every 5 cents you get one step closer to your goal. Maybe your coins will never get you to that ultimate goal of $10.000 or whatever you goal is, and might amount to less than 1% of your target, even after 20 years, but it reminds you of that goal and it keeps you going. And regardless of how much you save in your jar, it will at least give you that 1% of your target, and more importantly it will encourage you to find the remaining 99% you need in other ways.
The awesome thing with a coins jar, or basket or sock or whatever you fancy using, is that you can decide on the rules yourself! Do you want to empty out your wallet and pockets at the end of each day? Or save all $1 coins as soon as you get one when handed back change? Would putting in a daily amount work better for you? Can you use it as your reduce-one-expense-challenge bucket? Or will you come up with your own formula to get this money growing? You can set your own guidelines for this game completely, so enough said.. let’s get started..
Step 29 – Start a coins jar – in detail:
- Find a jar, bucket, old glass, or anything else that you can use for this goal. Anything will do, try to avoid spending $20 on a pretty looking jug if something old that you still have somewhere in the kitchen or attic will do! You can always spice it up with some spray paint, stickers, ribbons or inspirational quotes if needed!
- Put your jar in a prominent place where you will be able to see it every day, maybe next to the front door, so that as you walk into the door at the end of each day you can see it, or there where you put away your bag or lay out your clothes for tomorrow, so that you are reminded to do this regularly.
- Decide what you want to do: do you want to put in a $1 every day? Or maybe you’d like to put in $5 at the end of the week? Alternatively you can decide that you put in ANY dollar coins you have at the end of each day, maybe with a maximum daily amount, or maybe you dump all you pennies, nickels and other coins that are under $1 into daily or weekly.
- Figure out what works best for you, play around with the amount and frequency. You might find that you have lots of coins every day and that you are putting in a little bit too much money to keep up with this. Or you might find that it is a little too slow and you want to combine two rules: $1 every day and at the weekend any extra dollar coins that you still have.
- Remind yourself with each coin you put in what you are working towards to and why. And remember that even if you are still 999.999 steps away, you just made your first step. And every step means you just got one step closer!
Make sure to assign a goal to your jug. If you are still saving together your emergency of living fund, that would be an obvious goal, so when the jug is full, take the money to the bank and deposit in your account. But you might be saving for something else, be that a holiday, an extra debt payment or a down-payment for a house. As long as you have it clear what the money will be used for and not get tempted to grab some money from it on a Friday evening when you decide you want to go to the pub…
Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.