My Jars - an Update

Jason from Canadian Savings  asked me a couple of great questions on my recent payday post that relate to how I use the jar system.

Question One: How long do the jar amounts have to last you?
I budget bi-weekly. So the $300 that I allocate for my variable expenses are for two weeks.

Question Two: Do you track your spending?
I have found that tracking wasn't as important for me as it is for some folks. I didn't get a lot of value from it. What I mean to say is that I allocate $100 for two weeks worth of groceries. I know where that money has gone - it's gone to food. I don't need to track how much went to bread/butter/or other items relating to groceries.

Some other details about how I manage my 'jars'

  • I keep any 'left over' jar money - and roll it over into the following weeks. That way, If something comes on sale and I want to bulk up, I have the $$ for it already.
  • Some people have commented before that my entertainment budget looks a little high. I would argue that it's not.  
    • 'entertainment' is a very broad category for me.  For example, last month I bough some Halloween decorations for the house, I took money from my entertainment fund for that. Entertainment may also includes any trips home I make and extra gas money to visit my horse, and a variety of other item's that may come up. I could increase my Transportation budget and decrease my entertainment budget - but having it set up the way it is allows for more flexibility.
  • I recently decreased my clothing/gifts jar because I have a dedicated Christmas/Gift account where I save separately, so I shifted some of those funds to my 'everything else' jar.
  • Jordan also contributes to the food jar. We are both paid bi-weekly but on opposite weeks. He deposits $100/bi-weekly as well.
  • I should also mention that our grocery/food budget also includes joint personal care items like razer blades and cleaning supples. I would buy my personal make up and other items from my 'other ' jar.
I hope that answers Jason's questions, and addresses any one else's' if their out there. Feel free to ask more :)


  1. Hey,

    I'm glad you did a post on this. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to keep track of everything. I mean, I keep my receipts and I try my best to enter them onto Excel but I just haven't been compelled to actually look at where each cent has gone. Perhaps setting a budget, like $100 for food and knowing that a $100 has gone to food would cause me less headache. The only trouble I might run into is giving myself leeway, if I had only spent $50 on food, I'll make it up by using the remaining budget on clothes. Anyways, this is only the beginning and I'm going to see what works for me. Thanks for posting, I think I'm addicted to PF blogs now... :)

  2. Jessie,

    I truly admire that your budget is as simple as it is for you. I think I need to take a long hard look at all of our budget categories and see if we really need them or if they are just an excuse to spend some money.

    What about saving for a new car? I also didn't see any debt repayment on that budget?



  3. @ Shlee - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I fell in love with PF blogs about a year ago, and so I started one myself! It's a great way to organize yourself and keep on track with things.

    @ Jason - I wish my boyfriend thought it was simple lol!! I have some pretty insane spreadsheets but I only post parts of them online.

    You caught me on the debt repayment. My student loans are actually one of the only monthly expenses that I have (rather then bi-weekly like everything else). Unfortunatly I haven't figured out how to get those on a bi-weekly schedule as well. Every month $150 goes towards my student loan debt. That happens on the last day of the month.

    Right now, I'm not saving for a new car. It's not a priority for me. IF my car breaks down, my boyfriend works at a shop and he's got some great mechanics there who are willing to lend a hand.

    Now that I've got my Christmas fund squared away (see the side bars on the right), my next priority is to get my emergency fund back up to at least $1,000. In previous posts you'll see that I used it to pay off my credit card not too long ago.

    Every payday I post what my bi-weekly budget looks like, feel free to keep coming back to check it out and ask more questions :)

  4. Jessie,

    For the student loans take $150 and multiply by 12 and divide by 26. thats the amount you should be putting away each pay cheque. It's best to start this during a 3 pay cheque month when you can put away that amount 3 times during the month. I get $69.23 when I do the math. So if you put that way at each of your 3 pay cheques this month that would be a grand total of $207.69 leaving you with $57.69 which will be used up by the following 2 pay cheque months, which see you only adding $138.46, which requires you to take $11.54 from the extra you saved during a 3 pay cheque month.



  5. @ Jason

    That's a great suggestion. So far, what I'm doing works for me - but i'll keep that in mind.

    Part of my goal is to keep things pretty simple, otherwise I'm more likely to stop doing it.

  6. Jessie,

    Your commented hinted on 2 things I've always recommended. Keep it simple and understand what you are doing. So long as your system fits into that then thats all that matters.



  7. Man, that method would confuse the crap out of me if I did it (Jason's method that is).

    Not that I don't understand the math, but I wouldn't be able to keep track of the payments and how much I should be saving.


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