How I’m using jam jars to teach my daughter about budgeting 

Kara Gammell
Finances expert
3
minute read
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Posted 25 November 2021

For generations, we’ve been taught that money is a taboo subject. Much like religion and politics, many of us have been raised to believe that discussing your bank balance at the dinner table is a no-no. 

But for those of us who didn’t learn how to talk about money as a child, it’s likely we won’t discuss finances with our kids. 

And this can cause problems bigger than an uncomfortable conversation – and the impact lasts even longer. 

You see, according to research from Money Helper, the government-backed service, a child’s adult money habits are set by the age of seven. 

In other words, before children are even at junior school, it’s already determined whether they will be a ‘savvy spender’ or a ‘splash-the-cash' type as an adult. 

Yikes. 

So, I wanted to break the cycle and teach my daughter that money is not an off-limits topic. I want her to learn that it plays a variety of roles in life, whether it’s spending today or saving for tomorrow – and that she was in control. 

And I did it with three little glass jars. 

Whenever Audrey gets money, she divides the coins between the three jars 

What I am doing in our house 

A few years ago, I gave Audrey, my eight-year-old daughter, three glass jars, labelled “Saving”, “Spending” and “Sharing”. 

Whenever she gets money, whether it’s for doing chores or from the tooth fairy, she decides how to divide the coins between the three jars. 

The Spending jar is for smaller purchases such as a magazine, sweets or toys. 

The money in the Saving jar is for larger purchases, such as a bigger toy or a ticket to a theme park. 

The Sharing jar is for helping others, whether it’s making a donation to charity, supporting a busker on the street or helping a friend in need. 

Why jam jars? 

Unlike traditional piggy banks, these are transparent so she can see her money growing – and even more importantly, disappearing. 

I want her to know that there is nothing wrong with spending some of her money, as long as she’s also saving for the future and doing what she can to help others. 

I also strongly believe that by encouraging both saving and generosity, children will experience the satisfaction that can come from managing money well. 

Your little ones will be learning without even knowing it – and you can enjoy the satisfaction of a “parenting win” 

How it worked out 

The jar system works so well in our house that we’ve continued the tradition for years. 

The first time Audrey cashed in her Sharing pot was when I really saw the benefits of allowing her to be in control of managing her own money. 

She was going on a school trip to the beach and every child in her Year One class were asked to bring in £2 each for an ice cream at the end of the day. 

Audrey was worried that some kids wouldn’t have any money and may feel left out, so she emptied her jar and brought the contents with her in her lunch bag. 

At school pick up, she was elated. She was able to afford to buy ice creams for two of her classmates who possibly would have gone without. 

I was so proud of her – and very pleased that my money lesson seemed to be resonating with her. 

If you want to try this with your kids, check out these downloadable labels, grab a few jars from the recycling and get started. 

Your little ones will be learning without even knowing it – and you can enjoy the satisfaction of a “parenting win”. 

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.