Thinking Outside the Box: Savings

By Joan C. Smith, Master Financial Education Volunteer

As a volunteer financial counselor with the Alexandria/Arlington, we have many opportunities to serve the residents of Arlington County and Alexandria city. I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of residents of an apartment complex in Arlington. We taught on the subject “Pay Yourself First” as part of a Money Management series under the FDIC’s Money Smart program.

We were discussing a section about goal-setting and various ways to save. Aside from many common ways to save: i.e.: payroll deduction, opening a savings account, etc., one participant gave an interesting suggestion that I had never heard of.

Multiple money jarsMany have heard of and some of us already practice the idea of putting loose change in a container/jar and allowing it to build up and once it builds, one can use coin holders to place coins in and take those to their local banker or use a (free) coin counter machine. This participant had a totally “non traditional” method that worked for her. What this participant did (and continues to do) is she had a goal of saving up for a vacation for her family. She placed several (not one) jars in various places in the apartment. She wanted her kids to be an active part of this savings endeavor.

She started one year out. By the time the year rolled around; between several jars of “loose change,” she had saved about $500 in one year!

Unfortunately, her husband fell ill and the monies saved had to be used towards his medical bills.

I commended her nevertheless because:

1)      A goal was set
2)      Even though she had to use it for an emergency and forfeit a family vacation, at least she didn’t go into further debt when her spouse fell ill.
3)      The fact that she even had the funds for this unfortunate emergency saved her possible hundreds if not thousands in collection bills, late charges, and possible ruined credit.

What about you? Are you saving your “loose” change? Can you clean out an extra peanut butter (or almond butter) jar and use it in addition to the jar you may already have?

If this isn’t thinking outside the box to save, then what is?

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