We write about products and services that we use. This page may contain affiliate links for which we receive a commission.
Saving money for a vacation can be challenging — especially if you’re on a budget.
Everyone loves looking forward to a vacation, but saving money to a vacation savings account can be a challenge when you don’t have much leftover from each paycheck.
I’ve found — as long as you have some time to save up — a great way to stash some cash for your vacation is to use a vacation fund jar!
You’ve heard of the “swear jar”– right? My parents had their own version of this.
Growing up I had to pay .50 cents every time I used the word “ert”. It was a word created in high school in Downingtown, PA that meant “duh”. Let’s just say I contributed a lot to our vacation fund jar!
Following are 5 creative ways to use a change jar to begin your vacation savings account.
These clever ideas make saving for a vacation fun… and rewarding. And you’ll be surprised how well they work!
Get a large glass jar, coffee can, or other container to use as a change jar — and designate it as your vacation fund. You can even decorate it with something that reminds you of your destination — to keep it fun.
This is a great family activity and by engaging your kids in the act of saving, you’re teaching them about budgeting and skills that they will need in the future. Speaking of which, here’s a great article about how to talk to your kids about money.
Of course, in order for the change jar to work, you have to be diligent about using it. So let’s get started with 5 fun and creative ways to start your vacation fund with a change jar:
#1 – Save A Specific Denomination Of Coins
Save coins or bills of a certain value toward your vacation.
For example, you could decide that any time a member of your family gets a quarter, they must put it in the vacation fund jar.
Of course, you can add other extra money to the vacation savings account as well. But using a specific amount, like a quarter or dollar bill, will help you remember to add it to the vacation fund jar every time you see one.
You can do this with any coin or small bill — such as dimes, $1 dollar bills, or even $5 dollar bills. You won’t miss the small amount of money, and if you’re consistent, it’ll add up more quickly than you think!
Here’s a super-motivating money-saving success story to get you inspired.
#2 – Get Every Member Of The Family Involved
Create a smaller change jar for each member of your family. Label the jars with your names and have a friendly competition to see who can save the most money in their jar over the course of a month (or some other period of time).
As I said, this is a great bonding activity for the family. Skip going to the movies one night (which is a big expenditure, depending on the size of your family), grab some craft supplies that you have on-hand, and start decorating!
TIP: Mason jars work great as vacation change jars. Here are some fun vacation jar decorating ideas.
Of course, you’ll have to create some rules — especially if you have young kids that might not completely understand the concept of saving. (Hint: make sure they’re not just spending more money in order to get change back!)
Decide on a fun, free reward for whoever saves the most — such as getting out of doing their chores for a week. Also, you can ask your children to “donate” their allowance to the vacation savings account and offer them something else in return.
Here are some alternative ideas to giving a traditional “allowance” to kids.
#3 – Round Up Those Bills
And by “round up” I don’t mean collect. Round up the cost of your purchases to fund your vacation.
Here’s how rounding up works:
- Every time you purchase something you were going to buy anyway, round up the cost to the next dollar in your mind.
- Then, when you get home, add that extra amount (the rounded up amount) to your vacation fund.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Here’s an example:
If you pay $20.50 for Chinese takeout one night, round up the cost in your mind to $21.00. Pretend it costs just 50 cents more. Then, when you get home, add that 50 cents to your vacation fund jar.
If you do this with every purchase you make, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the extra change adds up!
While you’re busy rounding up your checks, take a look at how your credit card reward points could also help with your next vacation.
#4 – Use A Vacation Change Jar To Break Bad Habits
What’s the one word (or series of words) your kids say that you’ve asked them not to say? Here’s an effective way to get them to stop!
Yes, this is a variation of the “swear jar” technique. It’s a great way to generate funds for your vacation savings account.
How the “swear jar/vacation fund jar” works:
- Don’t limit it to just swear words. You can use this technique for any habit you’re trying to break. For example, forgetting to exercise might cost you $5, eating out when you’re trying to stop could cost you $10, maybe $20 is the price you pay if you sneak a cigarette, or you could even match your impulse buys with money that you put into the vacation change jar.
- Keep everyone accountable. This can be tricky — so you have to get friends, family, and co-workers involved to “watch” for bad habits that slip by. This is a great way to break habits and save money.
- Each time someone does the “bad habit”, they have to add a quarter, 50 cents, or whatever amount your family designates. Trust me, this is a good one because bad habits are hard to break, but a little added incentive makes it easier!
Here are some clever ways to enforce the swear jar at home.
#5 – Try The Weekly Mason Jar Money Method
This creative mason jar vacation fund method is really clever!
The basic plan starts with just $1 on the first week, and then you slowly ease your way into saving big bucks over time.
Here’s how it works:
- For each week of the plan, you save an extra dollar: Week 1=$1. Week 2=$2. Week 3=$3 …and so on.
- By the end of the plan, you’ll be putting away $52 in one week! But you’ll have weeks of time to lead up to the biggest saves — which will take the sting out of saving those extra bucks each week.
- When you’re finished, you’ll have well over $1300 in the jar. You can spend that on something special — like a vacation, holiday travel, or that emergency fund you know you need but haven’t started yet!
Ready to get start the Mason Jar Money Method? Here’s a downloadable plan you can use to stay on task.
Although it might take a while to save, using a vacation change jar can be a fun and effective way to build a vacation fund.
So what are you waiting for?… Start saving for vacation today!
Other Ways To Create A Vacation Savings Account
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are a couple more ways to save money for vacations:
- Try A Staycation To Save Money
- How People Use Crowdfunding To Help Offset Vacation Costs
- Save Money When You Go On Vacation
I’m a health nut, a frugal mom, a dog lover, a DIYer, and a gadget girl. Personally, as a post-divorce, working single mom on a budget I have a lot of experiences that I enjoy sharing so others can learn from the things I wish I knew earlier! Professionally, I’ve worked full-time in a variety of marketing, sales, and editing jobs. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as Managing Editor at The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).