What is a dream jar?
A dream jar is where you put aside a set amount of money at a regular interval to save up for something you’ve wanted for a long time. If you have even a little extra income, it’s something that you should consider – remember, you could add even pennies. You can always adjust the frequency or amount you deposit later, just as long as you’re consistent, just remember to keep saving up.
I’m never going to be able to stick to that.
There’s lots of different ways to motivate yourself not to spend the cash you’ve saved. One way is to invest in or make your own DIY Pot of Dreams, which is essentially a piggy bank that’s made to be one way – insert only, with no easy way to get the money back out. To retrieve your funds, you have to smash your Dream Pot.
This is particularly effective because it’s all or nothing – you can’t even skim off the top. The extra effort it takes to remove the cash may be enough to stop you , so why not get in your own way a little?
If you’re the kind of person who would break the jar anyway, consider getting a second jar for emergencies, and put away money there too every week, or switch back and forth weekly (A,B,A,B.) Do your very best to respect the separation of the two jars; don’t go busting into them both. Some might even consider borrowing from a friend before breaking into a dream jar on top of the emergency fund.
If the multi-jar system appeals to you, consider having individual goal jars building towards more specific dreams.
No matter how bad your self-control is, don’t stop until you find a system that works. Keep your funds at a friend’s house, or put the jar somewhere in your room where you won’t see it when you’re considering an impulse buy. To avoid forgetting about it altogether, though, try setting an alarm on your phone or calendar app of choice every week to remind you to keep saving up.
What should my ‘dream’ be?
That’s up to you, of course. Don’t be afraid to go big or small. Remember; it can be any splurge or item that requires saving. Travel, technology, presents for friends or family, vehicles, video games, makeup, elective surgeries – the sky’s the limit. It’s your jar.
Be sure to set your goal before you start saving and to stick to it – don’t suddenly claim this is ‘what you’d been waiting for’ when something else comes up. This is not a rainy day fund, or something you’ll know you were saving for ‘when you see it.’ Set your plan and stick to it.
What if I still feel overwhelmed?
Try a simple savings system, or invent one of your own. There’s a lot of templates available online for this, spanning from saving a few cents at a time to thousands in a year. Find a set up that works for you, or create one of your own, if you want more specific structure to your dream jar.
What does a dream jar look like?
Lots of people suggest using visuals on the jar to remind you what you’re stashing cash for. This can be anything from a piece of duct tape to an elaborate sign to a simple ribbon to sharpie. You may choose another storage system other than a jar – like a box, piggy bank, or bag.
The only thing that makes a dream a jar a dream jar, is money inside of it and a plans for how you’ll spend it.
But how do I know how much I have saved if I’m not using a system?
Keep a log! I suggest having one tagged or taped to the jar itself where you record the date and how much you’re putting in each time you save, so you have a record of how much is in there – and you can feel out how close you are to achieving the dreams you’re saving for. You can also keep track on a calendar or on your phone, computer, or tablet if you prefer – but just like with the jar itself, consistency is key! Be sure to update your log every time you donate.
What’s the point of this?
It’s a simple system, but it works for many; having a jar or space set aside to put money for saving up towards a big goal helps you get closer to actually achieving it. As long as you have the self-discipline and motivation to regularly save a bit of your income, eventually those pennies will start to stack on up.
Stick with it! Even if you lose track and rediscover your savings, don’t bust it open – that violates the spirit of it! Just pick up again where you left off.
That’s common cents.