The Family Fun Jar

I have this jar – a beer stein, actually, from our years in Germany – that I keep on a handy shelf.  I use it to collect spare change lying around in the bottoms of purses or on nightstands or desks.  I’ve been collecting our pocket change like this for maybe twelve years now.  Every three to six months, it gets full, and then we count and roll all the coins and take them to the bank.  A full jar always holds just about a hundred dollars, give or take a couple, so that’s what I call it: The $100 Jar.

Or that’s what I used to call it!  I used to use that money for personal, guilt-free spending, but things have changed a little bit around here.  For one thing, my beloved retired from the Army in 2012 and money was extremely tight for a very long time.  Thankfully, that has eased up somewhat and we no longer require even our spare change to make ends sort-of-maybe-almost-not-quite meet.  For another, we give mom and dad allowances now, too, and that is sufficient for keeping me in new books, craft supplies, and unnecessary baby toys.

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But spare change still accumulates, and the stein still fills up, only now we call it The Family Fun Jar, because even though our situation is more comfortable than it was a year ago,  there is still no budget category for bowling dates and museum trips and movie viewing.

The Family Fun Jar is such a popular feature that most of the children dump their own pocket change into it on a regular basis and at least one puts a dollar of her $4 allowance in each week.

The other day, I talked about how I get the laundry done each day, and today, I thought I’d tell you what I do with all the things I find in the bottom of the washing machine! I had to tell you about The Family Fun Jar first, though, because it’s an important feature.  🙂

I was getting pretty tired of finding watches, lip balm, rocks and matchbox cars in the bottom of my machine every day, so I stopped giving them back to their owners.  I have a basket on the shelf over the washer, and I just collect all the things I find.  Then, on the first Saturday of the month, I hold a yard sale.  Everything costs a quarter and the original owner gets first dibs, but if that person doesn’t want to pay, we have an auction.  I’ve had coveted items go for as much as $6!

Kind of slim pickings this month; I'll have to raid the mudroom and the van for mislaid toys and things!  Also, don't you love that cherry jar I keep my laundry soap in?  Found that on clearance at Target once upon a time. :-)
Kind of slim pickings this month; I’ll have to raid the mudroom and the van for mislaid toys and things! Also, don’t you love that cherry jar I keep my laundry soap in? Found that on clearance at Target once upon a time. 🙂

All funds raised through the monthly yard sales go right into The Family Fun Jar, so that takes the sting out of it.  To tell you the truth, they all look forward to it.  But I have noticed a marked decrease in the number of things I find. 🙂

I also sometimes round up all the things I find that people have refused to put away: toys in the van, legos on the ledge by the stairs, knitting and drawing projects on the sofas… Put ’em away or pay the price.  😉

Of course, this also requires that your children receive an allowance… We’ll talk about that next!

What do you do with your pocket change and the things you find in the bottom of your washing machine?

1 Comment

  1. Faith doesn’t have pockets in most of her pants (leggings she wears under skirts), otherwise Lord knows what I’d find. The only thing Noah leaves in pants and shirts and jackets and etc. is pens and pencils. Unfortunately he wouldn’t pay a dime to get them back because they are plentiful in drawers and crocks throughout the house. Occasionally a clean dollar bill comes through the wash. I keep those and then usually Noah gets it back when he needs lunch money (once a week we let him buy).

    I like your $100 jar. We have an enormous beer stein from Doug’s grandfather that could easily hold $100. We have always kept our change in a mason jar because our church collects “pennies from heaven” for the seminarians in our diocese. But, as money gets tighter it might be nice to occasionally put change in a fun jar (though it might become a “Catholic guilt” jar in my mind). 😉 I’d also probably have to find a way to put a lock on it, as someone around here is always looking for change for parking, etc.

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