I have always been associated with the military in some way, shape or form. My father was on Active Duty in the Army, turned Reservist, back to Active Duty, turned Civilian, back to Reservist and after a total of over 35 years of service to this country, he is finally (technically) a civilian; even though, he still works with soldiers. It’s his passion! My parents have always tried to give my sister and I everything we wanted or desired growing up (with limitations, of course); we would never have to yearn for anything, especially not the basics such as food, clothing and shelter.
It wasn’t until later when I realized that military members don’t necessarily make as much, when compared to their civilian counterparts. Sure, there is COLA, BAH, TDY reimbursement, clothing allowance, Hazardous Duty Pay, etc.; but generally, when one considers the time and effort invested, frequent moves, as well as hazards certain military members encounter, the pay they receive isn’t necessarily on par with the civilian world. Then add in, the high unemployment rate of military spouses, clothing and uniform upkeep beyond the clothing allowance, and other expenses; all these things add up quickly. This often times leads many military members and their families with credit card and other massive debt that seems to follow them far beyond their years in the service.
And that is all DURING their service! What happens when the service member leaves the military?
In our case, my husband wasn’t necessarily given a choice, as his injuries caught up with him and he was no longer fit for duty; and therefore, was medically discharged.
Not only did we have all this debt (around $15,000; which doesn’t sound like much in comparison to our current debt), but he wasn’t able to work and I found out I was pregnant! My husband tried to work, but most jobs only lasted about 2 months. A couple of months after Elijah was born, I was able to take on a job at a motel my mother-in-law managed.
Fast forward a few years and we had more debt, more money going out for basic bills, more money being used for me to go to college, money being used for daycare for Elijah, etc. Many months we ended up being so broke by the last week of the month, that it was hard to make a decent dinner or buy diapers. This is where our “We’re-Broke-Jar” comes into play.
Basic concept of our “We’re-Broke-Jar:”
The concept of the “Broke-Jar” is that every time we used cash, we would put the coin-change in the jar and by the end of the month, we’d usually have enough money in there to hold us over until pay-day. This was efficient, because VA disability payments only come in once-a-month; instead of the every two weeks schedule we were used to from the military. The coins added up quickly! It is quite amazing to start out with just a few quarters and nickles and end up with anywhere between $40-$100 in coins by the end of the month. This amount also depends on whether there was money already in the jar or if we had raided it completely the previous month. But with coupons and sales and other rewards, the change really helped us out many times!
Over the course of the years, we’ve used everything from an old Mayo Jar to an old bowl and now this highly inconspicuous looking can. 🙂
Now we don’t use it as a “We’re-Broke-Jar” anymore, it is currently being used as our “Savings-Jar!”
It’s purpose is almost the same; every time we use cash, we put the change in the jar and after a while we take down to our local bank to have them count it and deposit it into our savings account. There it can draw interest (even though interest rates are abysmally low) and when we get enough money to pay a debt down substantially or pay it off completely, we can use this money to do so.
Over the last 3 months we’ve saved our change again and the last time I counted it, we had about $150 in change! That’s crazy! Especially considering that we’ve used the Savings-Jar a few times to go wash our vehicles and to give Elijah a couple of quarters here and there for extra work/help done around the house. I think that’s fairly impressive though! If we keep this up, we will be able to pay off one of our credit cards in no time!
If you don’t have a “We’re-Broke-Jar” or “Savings-Jar” yet, I highly recommend you get one! Whether it can help you get through the rest of the month or it may help you pay down debt, or increase your savings, I recommend cleaning an old Mayo Jar and start filling it with your change!
Do you feel this system is a good way to save money?
Disclosure: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. Some posts may contain affiliate links. For more details please view my disclosure policy.