Rainy day funds, retirement accounts, college savings…they are all part of responsible financial planning, but allocating money towards them doesn’t always feel that exciting. Teaching children to save will serve them well throughout their lifetimes and sticking to a budget is much easier when all members of the family are on board. But how can you make the idea of saving interesting, or even fun?
The Family Fun Jar
Designate a large jar or other container as the holding zone for money that is being saved for something special for the family to purchase or experience together. Decide as a family what this highly targeted fund will go towards…it could be a vacation, video game system or new bikes. When I was little our family spent the accumulated savings in our jar on an above ground pool.
Here’s how it works: money goes into the jar when you pass on spending money in favour of saving. Thinking of ordering pizza? Stick the cash in the jar and have cereal or PB ‘n Js instead. Kids begging for the latest toy, movie or treat? Offer them the choice to put the money the treat would cost in the jar instead. Extra change found in pockets, couch cushions and the floor of the car can go in the jar too. The idea is that the money that goes into the jar comes out of the amounts already budgeted to other discretionary spending; try not to spend as normal and then stick an additional amount into the jar.
Prefer not to have all that cash around? Like so much of banking and finances these days, you can also keep this Family Fun Savings electronic. Keep a record on paper or in a spreadsheet of the amounts saved, and then once a month transfer the total into a special savings account set up for this purpose. [Read more…]