The Mason Jar Savings Method: The Money Jar for Adults


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
I’ll say it straight-up: saving sucks. Especially for anyone in college. I mean, as college kids, our earning prospects weren’t exactly very good. But there’s still that huge pressure to make and save money. And that’s just as difficult – probably even more so – than that scary book report you’ve been putting off for weeks.

Most of the posts I made about college will talk about various earning methods for college students. But for this post, I’ll be talking (er, writing) about this awesome savings method I’ve discovered when I was a student: the Mason Jar Savings Method.

The Mason Jar Savings Method is a nifty technique to make saving easier and less painful. But most of all, it works! Since it’s so easy to start (but a little challenging down the line), I think all college students should give it a try. In this post, I’ll be spilling all the details on the Mason Jar Savings Method.

Wanna give this a try? Read on!

mason jars.jpg

What is the Mason Jar Savings Method?

The Mason Jar Savings method is just that — you put money into a container, the most popular option being a mason jar… because hipsters, I guess. But the Mason Jar Savings method is totally legit. Feel free to replace the mason jar with whichever container you want.

The unique thing about the Mason Jar method is that it’s cumulative. You start with a small amount, then gradually work your way up to the target amount. You could even start with the final amount and gradually move down as the weeks progress. The Mason Jar Savings Method is designed to make saving money not feel like saving money!

Any mature person would be familiar with the usual ways to save money. The most common go-to saving method is bank accounts, which come in a wide range of varieties (my personal favorite being time deposit accounts).

But The Mason Jar Savings method is different from the usual savings methods since you have an upward-moving goal.

mason jar saving method.jpg

How to Get Started on the Mason Jar Savings Method

Starting is really easy (otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it in the first place). To start, you need to do two things: get a container, and set a goal.

The container you use doesn’t have to be literally a mason jar. I would suggest any container with a tight lid. Preferably something opaque since I’ve had too many roommates dip into my savings for beer money (you know how you are). Anyway, I’ll leave it up to you what kind of container to use — you could even use a shoebox or DIY money-saving jar if you want.

Next, set your goal. To do that, you can either start with your final target amount, the number of weeks you want to do this, and calculate how much you’ll have to drop into the mason jar each week. If that’s too fiddly, you can just set the amount you want to save on the first week, then work your way up. I’ll be covering this in the next section.

mason jar plan.jpg

Sample Calculation

So let’s say you want to start with $1 on week one and keep saving for three months (12 weeks). That’s cool. Now let’s plot how much you’ll have to save on each week:

Week 1: $1
Week 2: $2
Week 3: $3
Week 4: $4

Week 5: $5
Week 6: $6
Week 7: $7
Week 8: $8

Week 9: $9
Week 10: $10
Week 11: $11
Week 12: $12

Now, before we move forward, I need to remind you that this savings method is cumulative. You’re not adding $1 each week… you start with $1 on week 1, then add $2 on week 2, and so forth.

Now, back to the computation. If you stuck to that savings plan (cutting down on beer and nights out will be a huge help), you would have saved a total of $78 in 12 weeks. That’s nothing to sniff at!

But here’s where it gets interesting. If you continue to save past the 12th week, your savings will really increase at a pretty fast rate. Let’s pretend you decide to do this for an entire year (48 weeks). At the end of that period, you would have saved $1,176!

Like I mentioned early on in this post, it gets more challenging as the weeks progress. You start out saving a couple of bucks per week, no problem. But in the last week, you’ll have to come up with $48 (and that’s not counting the previous weeks). I know coming up with $48 in a week is tough. But since you’ve already been doing this for so long, you’ve already primed yourself to become more frugal and careful with your money. As you move forward, your mind sort of reconfigures itself to make sure you hit your weekly goals.

mason jar savings sample computation.jpg

Why the Mason Jar Savings Method is Awesome

Like I mentioned above, your saving without making it feel like your saving. I think the biggest barrier to saving is mental; we don’t think we can save. We can come up with all sorts of excuse, but the truth is everyone – even the most hard-up college student (like I was!) – can save. The Mason Jar Method tricks you into saving larger and larger amounts.

Another good thing about this method is that it forces you to give your finances an honest assessment. You need to sit down and determine how much you can commit to saving every week. And I think that’s better than having some vague savings plan, which eventually falls apart after a couple of weeks.

Variations to the Mason Jar Savings Method

Well, I already mentioned you don’t have to literally use a mason jar, but there are more change jar ideas and variations to this than just changing your container. Here are some variations you can try out:

Lessen/Increase Your Weekly Targets

Another thing I love about the Mason Jar Earning Method is that it forces you to be honest about your saving capacity. If you think you can afford to set aside more, by all means, to do. If you can’t quite afford that $1 cumulative amount every week, hey, no shame aiming for a more modest target. The key is to find a target – any target, really – and stick to it. That’s the most important thing, more than aiming for an unrealistic goal.

Start High, then Go Lower as the Weeks Progress

This is the opposite of the method I’ve outlined above. Instead of starting at a dollar then moving up to $48, you start at $48, then save one dollar less each succeeding week. What’s the point of doing this? You get the large scary amount out of the way first. Saving gets easier as the weeks progress. If you’re the type who wants to get anything difficult/unpleasant out of the way first, this is the method for you.

Some Final Tips

I really hope your fired-up and want to start your own Mason Jar Savings! To help you succeed, here’s a rundown of some of the tips I’ve offered in this post:

1. Be honest about your finances; there’s no reason you should save more than what you’re capable of.

2. Be disciplined! Once you make the commitment to save, stick to it. There’s no turning back!

3. Have a goal! Money – specifically, saving money – shouldn’t be an abstract concept. The best way to make your savings more “real” is to have a target. And a target thing you want to spend your money on! This way, you don’t feel like you’re just throwing your money into nowhere.

4. Customize your mason jar! This isn’t the most important item in this post, but why not jazz up your mason jar? That way, you feel more invested in your savings plan.

Good luck!
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Mar 31, 2019
Thanks this is a great tip for the new year! but i think I will need a mason jar that is unbreakable or not too easy to pry open because i have a little girl running around the house who might be tempted to spend what i save in there lol
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