Money Saving Jar Ideas For Children

This time of year there are lots of goals floating about and one of the ones you’ll often see on Pinterest is a money saving jar, where you save 1p on the 1st of January, 2p on the 2nd January and so on. I think this is a great idea, especially for children as they can clearly see how the savings are adding up. Of course you’re starting small so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrfice initially, but as the year goes on, you head into summer months and later on towards Christmas, and having to drop £3 and more a day into the jar, it will quickly start adding up.

I know this wouldn’t work for me and the knowledge that I’d have to suddenly ‘find’ an extra £20-plus a week for the money jar is quite stressful for me, and I know I’d give up probably somewhere around the £2 a day mark. So I decided that we would try it, backwards.Money Jar Savings

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did. I find that quite positive and uplifting! My daily ‘sacrifice’ will get smaller, but my savings will be ever increasing.

Of course that means that by the end of February I’ve had to magic up almost £200 to put into the jar, but actually, it’s the perfect time. There’s no rule that says you *have* to put money in every single day, but if you’re decluttering the house, getting ready for spring, cleaning out after Christmas and so on, you can take that money and put it in the jar in lump sums as you receive it, just keeping track. Obviously that’s not the real spirit of the jar, but does it really matter? Taking a £5 note and breaking it on some sweets you didn’t need so that you could put £3.39 in the jar isn’t really saving.

Holiday Treats Fund

Holiday Treat Jar

Since for me this is an exercise in saving for the children, I actually did take a £20 and exchange it for £1 coins. I’m hiding the coins so that we can put one in the holiday jar every day. Of course if this was for me, I’d just do transfers from my bank account so that I don’t have the temptation of physical cash, and so that I could be earning interest where I can, but again since this is for the children, I think the physical visual of a jar (two in our case) is useful.

Christmas Penny Jar

Christmas Penny Jar

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment  it seemed practical for us, we actually have two jars on the go: a Christmas fund, counting down from £3.65 and a £1 jar for our holiday in June. This is our ice cream fund, according to the girls. By the time we go on holiday, we should have £130 in the jar. Lots of ice creams for 7 days! It’ll be nice to have a little bit of ‘frivolous’ money though.

For the big jar, where you’re supposed to have over £600 saved by the end of it, we’ve set a date of 15 December, at which point we’ll add the last two week’s worth of coins on one day – totalling £1.34. That way we still have 10 days left to buy Christmas presents and food. I can see this as a really good way of making big things not break the bank when they come round – though I’ll probably just use my bank accounts for non-child projects!
Whichever way you choose to do a penny jar, it’s a good way to save some pennies and get the kids “hands on” involved too. And if we achieve it, we’ll have a financial stress free Christmas and a lot of ice cream on holiday too!

Money Saving Through Discount Sites

Before I had children, I never knew of the existence of discount sites, coupon codes, vouchers or anything like that. If I ever got anything at a discount, I was really happy about it. I started working for PlayPennies and suddenly a whole world opened up to me for the first time. Now I don’t think I can quite recall the last time I paid full price for a non-grocery item!

Odd as it seems to me now, I know there are still people out there who don’t know about these sites and don’t realise that with a bit of planning, you don’t have to dig quite as deeply into your pockets as you thought.

As an example, there was an offer recently at a chain store for a dolls house, reduced from £20 to £4.99. I have been looking for a dolls house for Ameli for ages now, but haven’t been able to afford it. This was too good to miss, so I bought one. I also bought another, because there are enough friends on our list who will be having birthdays soon, and quite frankly, nothing I can buy for under £5 is going to compare to this!

Now, I don’t have the time to trawl website after website every day to find the best deals, so that’s where companies like Groupon, My Voucher Codes, PlayPennies, Zulily and others come in – they kind of do the hard work for you, and you just sift through what you want and don’t want.

Of course, it’s not a bargain if you didn’t want it or don’t need it, so if you don’t want to sign up for emails, newsletters and RSS feeds from these sites, you can do something else that never occurred to me: do a Google search.

Say for example I want to buy my daughter a pair of shoes from Clarks, rather than just paying the full fee and postage, do a search for something like “Clarks Voucher” or “Clarks Discount Code” (it’s also worth searching independently for free shipping, i.e. “Clarks Free Shipping”) and seeing whether there are any valid discount codes. If you can unexpectedly receive your postage free, or 20% off what you were expecting to pay, just by doing an additional search, why not?

I really don’t believe that parenting has to be as expensive as people make it. In fact, I know it doesn’t. The best advice I can offer is to have a bit of money in your account specifically so that when you see something that is a good deal, you can grab it up, and put it away.

I have on more than one occasion woken up on the day of a second or third birthday party and found I don’t have a present for the child in question. A stop at a toy shop en route to the party normally means we arrive there late, stressed and having purchased something for the full price. With a little planning and a spare corner at the top back of my wardrobe, I now always have something that would be suitable, saving my sanity, and my pocket.

Do you have any money saving tips or favourite websites you depend on? Please share in the comments below!