Collecting your coins and spare bills is a great way to save money, because over time, all that change adds up. But emptying your pockets into a jar or a piggy bank when you walk in the door? Not exactly the most fun or inspired way to do things. If you need a little extra motivation to save—whether it's to pay for something special, or to curb your bad money habits—try one of these takes on the traditional coin jar or piggy bank.
When you're working on the "adulting" thing...
A "Treat Yo Self" Jar
Okay, so you could just charge a fancy meal or a splurge-y purchase to your credit card when you want to "treat yo self" Parks and Recreation style, but if you create a savings fund for those moments when you just want to impulsively buy yourself something you want, won't it feel so much sweeter? A "treat yo self" jar would let you do just that, debt-free.
But of course, you need motivation to put money in the jar, and that's where it gets even better—what makes you want to treat yourself in the first place? Usually, it's because you've had a rough day and you want to do something to make yourself feel better, or because you've worked really hard on something and you want to reward yourself for a job well done. So, every time you have to do something difficult or something you hate—say, when you need to go to the DMV, or you deep clean the fridge—put your change or a few dollars in the jar. Then, when you really need a pick-me-up, cash in the jar and, you know, treat yo self.
When you're hustling towards a big goal...
A "You Can Do It" Jar
Similar to the "treat yo self" jar, this money jar allows you to reward yourself without maxing out your credit card, but here's where it differs: With the first jar, you're saving every time you do something you dread, and cashing in whenever you feel like it, but with the "you can do it" jar, you're aligning your savings with a goal you really want to achieve.
Think about it this way—we all have something that we really want to accomplish, whether it's a work-related goal (like knocking a huge important project out of the park, or writing a book) or a personal goal (like running a marathon or learning to play guitar.) Achieving your goals is no easy feat, and you deserve a reward for accomplishing something that's important to you. So, with the "you can do it" jar, motivate yourself and track your progress by putting money in every time you do something that helps you meet your chosen goal. Sat down to write a chapter of your book? Put some money in. Finally learned a new chord on the guitar? You know the drill. Seeing the money pile up in the jar will also help you see how you keep moving towards achieving the things you want, and when it becomes stagnant, it might even motivate you to work on it more.
When you're trying to cut a bad habit...
An "If This, Then That" Jar
If you really want to curb your spending, you're going to have to set some rules for yourself. That means assessing your splurging habits—do you order Seamless or eat out more often than you cook at home, or do you rely on Uber more often than you need to? The "if this, then that" jar can help you beat those bad money habits.
Whatever your vices are, create a list of rules and assign money values to them based on how often you do them (say $3 for ordering Seamless, $2 for taking a taxi, etc.—you can make the amount as low or as high as you need it to be to deter you.) Then, you're ready to start saving. Any time you think about spending money on one of those vices, you'll know you have to put money in the jar along with whatever money you spend, so if it stops you from doing it, great—if not, the money goes in the jar...and then into your savings account, where you won't touch it. Alternately, if you want to be charitable with your bad habit money, you can donate it. Either way, the jar should help you think twice about how you're spending your money, so you can save more in the long-run.