There’s no need to completely adjust your lifestyle in order to save for either a short or long-term savings goal. You can slowly, but steadily add to your savings by using the modified swear jar system to add to your savings each and every day of the week.
What is the Modified Swear Jar System?
In short, the modified swear jar is the adult version of “if you say a curse word, you drop a quarter into the swear jar” rule mom had in place when you were a kid.
However, rather than dropping money into the jar each time you curse, you drop money into the jar each time you mention (or have recurring thoughts of) your savings goal. As long as your savings goal is important to you, you’re going to express quite a bit of verbal lust, and then enjoy the game as you focus on your savings!
If your goal is less than $500, you may be able to use an average sized jar or cereal canister. However, for a more sizeable goal, many people prefer to use an oversized flowerpot or a 5-gallon empty water bottle to stash their savings.
How to Implement the System
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that simply dropping coins into a jar will take you ages to achieve your savings goals. You’ll most likely need to up the ante and start placing bills into your jar.
Generally, $5 or $10 bills are small enough that you may be able to comfortably drop a bill into the jar once or more each day without feeling a financial pinch. But if finances are tough, you can start by placing $1 into your jar each time you mention your goal.
Try these additional techniques for growing your savings with the swear jar system:
1. Choose your denomination. Choose your denomination between $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and stick to it.
• If you need to drop $10 into your jar and only find that you have smaller bills, place as many bills as necessary into the jar until you reach $10. It’s okay to place different bills into the jar as long as you’re putting in the amount you planned.
2. Set a minimum. If your goal is something you wouldn’t talk about on a daily basis (such as new French doors), set a minimum deposit for each day.
• For example, if your denomination is $20, vow to drop a minimum of $20 into your jar at the end of each day, regardless of whether or not you mention your goal. At the end of just the first month, you’ll have saved a minimum of $600 into your jar.
3. No cheating. Make it a strict rule that you must make a deposit into your jar each time you mention your goal. If you let yourself off the hook once, you’re more likely to do it next time and thereafter.
• If you routinely talk about your goal throughout the day and feel that a $5 or $10 donation to the jar is a bit steep, it’s best to stick with a $1 denomination. If you talk about your goal five times per day, you’ll still have $5 at the end of the day and up to $150 at the end of the month.
This system works because it’s user friendly and risk free. Yes, you may be placing a considerable amount of money into the jar, but it will motivate you to ramp up your efforts as you can visually see your savings mounting.
Unlike financing the purchase you’re saving for, if for any reason you were to encounter a financial emergency (such as a termination notice from your utility company), you’ll be able to dig into your savings jar and continue your efforts once you’re on a positive financial footing.