Thursday, July 9, 2009

Budgeting by Jars

MY jars for budgeting
I am now in my second week using the "Jar Method", made popular on Gail Vaz-Oxlade's "Til Debt Do Us Part". Thus far, I think I am doing okay. I've managed to stay 'within the jars', and I have taken my credit cards out of my wallet to reduce the urge to spend when I don't have the cash.

I started planning for my jars by reviewing my budget for the past four months and looking closely at my 'necessary' variable costs. These are the things I spend money on that I can't live without. By 'can't', I mean for a comfortable existence, these are realistic expenditures. Sure, I could plan to completely put my social life on hold until I have more money, but it wouldn't be reasonable. I just need to be more budget conscious about what I spend when I go out.

I decided on four jars - fuel, groceries, miscellaneous (for makeup, cat food, etc.) and social. I planned my spend bi-monthly, so I can still have a wild week but know the next week will be extremely tame.

Thus far, it is working well, although there have been a few 'hiccups'. Since I literally keep the cash in jars on my counter, I have to remember to grab the money when I need it. For example, I completely forgot to get my fuel money the other day. Not able to return home (because I needed fuel), I used debit and left the cash in the jar for next week.

Another challenge - sticking to my social jar. Especially since I started rowing, I am going out 'for a beer' often. This really adds up! With three weddings this month, and everything that goes with them - showers, stag and does, stagettes - I need to be really conservative in other areas of my life. Surprisingly, it becomes much easier to decline a dinner invitation when there is no money in the jar left to go.

Finally, I decided to budget for all my weddings (and everything related) separately and left that money in the bank. I withdraw this cash when I need it, but if I don't spend it all, I put it into the 'snowflake jar'. All my excess coins and change also go into the snowflake jar. When it's full, I'm going to deposit it and pay down my credit card.

You can check out more advice from Gail on her site - or I also found the blog, The Money Jar Budget - Get Debt-Free, which explains the money jar concept in more detail. Let me know, have you had success with the jars or another budgeting technique?


  1. I LOVE this idea... although I will admit, I am too chicken to try it :S
    I too saw this on Gail's show... it definitely does work though eh?

    Good luck :)

  2. Keep us updated on how this works for you. I have thought about trying it, but I don't think my husband would go for it, and I think it only works if it is a house hold thing.

  3. I agree - it would certainly be more challenging to manage with multiple people. Leaving the credit card at home has definitely stopped me from spending on its own, however. I'll update at the end of the month!