Simple change

30 August 2007

A good way of building an emergency fund, or to save for other things, is to have a change jar. “Change” can be coins or notes. I usually classify everything in the coin section of my purse as change, even if it’s folded notes. If I come home with change in my purse, it usually goes into my change jar.

When you keep a change jar, never take from it, don’t count it and keep it out of sight. Only count it when you are going to transfer the money into a bank account or to pay off debt. By not counting you give yourself a nice surprise when you do count it. It’s more of a moveable mystery if you don’t know how much you have. Life should have some secrets, let this be one of them.

You can also add to your jar by adding unexpected gifts or savings. For instance, if you have gift money given to you, add it, give up the coffee you buy on the way to work and add that extra $20 a week, give up smoking and add the money you would have spent on cigarettes. If cigarettes are around $14 and you smoke a packet a day, you'll save over $5000 in a year by giving up and saving that money.

Every time your change jar is full, sit down with a smile on your face and count the money. If you have lots of gold coins or notes, you might easily have $300. Whatever it is, take that money and add it to the bank account you use to pay your debts, be that your mortgage or your credit cards. If you are debt-free, add it to your savings account or use it for a holiday.

When H and I went on our holiday recently, the only spending money we took with us was the money from the change jar. It was just under $300 and we each had half. Both of us came home with $100. We did everything we wanted to do, we took Kathleen out to dinner and we enjoyed ourselves. We didn't buy junk, or anything we didn't need. That's the thing about saving, you have to have it firmly in your head that you are saving, and go for it.

For those of you earning a good weekly wage, you might think it's trivial to even talk about such small amounts. But living frugally, whether by choice or by need, is all about small steps. Most people can't save $1000 without starting with those first few dollars.

So think about starting a change jar. If you give up a few things and save all your change, you'll be able to pay off your mortgage faster or take the family on a holiday without it going on the credit card.


  1. I've always done this and it's surprising how quickly it adds up!

  2. I'm going to have to give the change jar another try and this time I'll hide it from K.

    We've just changed our superannuation payments and will be drawing a pension until K retires, hopefully early next year. Now we really have to get serious about frugality and we're both looking forward to the challenge. :-)

  3. good for you, polly! honestly, when you get into the mindset of it, it's easy.

  4. That is a great idea Rhonda, I did likewise for about 9 months last year and amassed $170 which I paid off the mortgage! When my current overseas stint is finished in 2 weeks, I intend to start doing the same again.

  5. Thanks for the ideas, Rhonda. :)

  6. Great idea that i have done for years. I paid for my daughter in laws bridal shower this way. We usually use the money for a little day trip or special purchase. So nice to have "extra" money and not take from the budget. By the way, I love the "Aussie" way of speaking (different terms for things) Thanks for all the work you put into yur blog, Dee

  7. when a local appliance store went out of business, my change jar allowed me to take advantage of a one day, 70% off sale on the dishwasher i'd been coveting! change jars rock!

  8. Change jars DO rock, lol!

    I have a change jar in the bedroom, office & home office. When a couple are getting full I tip them all out and have fun counting them. I loooove rolling money too, although it's harder to get the paper rolls these days and I most usually have to use the little plastic bags. Trot off to the bank and start all over again. It's a simple and easy way of saving a few hundred dollars...

    When the boys were little and at school I'd keep change aside for incidentals and "gold coin days", for I didn't really want to keep dipping into my change jar. Now they have their own change containers.

    Great posts, Rhonda; wonderful ideas and habits to share...



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