Budgeting in 2016 – An Update on the Five Dollar Jar

January 21, 2016

Last year Tech Support and I resolved to set tighter limits on our “frivolous” spending. We wanted to direct more money towards our two big financial goals – paying down the mortgage and traveling more. But we needed permission to buy ourselves the occasional gift or treat, so we didn’t snap at the daily restrictions and do something drastic, like, I don’t know, paying $10,000 for a real live unicorn.*

This is how the Five Dollar Jar was born. At the beginning of each month, Tech Support deposited $50 in five dollar bills into two jam jars, and we were allowed to spend it on anything we wanted.

five dollar jar TN

It worked like a dream. Because we had a budget, we had to think carefully about what “frivolous” items we really wanted, and that thoughtfulness actually made us less likely to spend money at all. I even finished the year $20 up!

This year, we’re adding a new layer – we’re going to put the receipts in the jar when we take the money out. Not only with this help us remember whether we’ve actually withdrawn the appropriate funds, but we’ll know exactly where the cash is going. I expect the results will be pretty interesting.

I also expect that I’m going to have to borrow against future months, because I’m going to the SCBWI Conference in New York this February. Broadway tickets and autographed books definitely count as frivolous – especially at the current exchange rate!

What about you? Was getting control of your budget one of your New Year’s Resolutions? What strategies do you use for tracking your spending? Share your tips in the comments!

* Can one buy a unicorn for $10,000? If so, tell me where! 😀

4 Comments on ‘Budgeting in 2016 – An Update on the Five Dollar Jar’

  1. We’ve also found that having some “mad” money is an important part of budgeting. Good luck with getting to your conference! I’m going to Bouchercon in New Orleans in the fall. Excited and nervous. My hermit self is also wondering what I was thinking. haha

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    1. I’m a hermit, too, Pauline. I will be exhausted after talking to all the strangers in NY. I keep telling myself it’s good to push myself out of my happy bubble, as long as I can go back in afterwards!

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  2. Have fun in New York! I don’t think I’ll go this time, but I wish I could!! I think I might hole myself up in my room and write write write instead, so I’ll be there in solidarity and in spirit.

    Nice job sticking to the jar all year! We should try that – I bet it would do wonders for us!

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    1. Sad face. Can you imagine how much fun the two of us would have in New York? Oh well, we’ll have more chances. 🙂

      The jar has been revolutionary. You really should try it. The kids, too.

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