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Saving The Change - That good old Fashioned Jam Jar

Updated on September 30, 2010

I think we all grew up with Jam Jars

My memories of a jam jar

Large family sized Apricot jam bottles would be carefully stuck away in the back reaches of the tallest cupboard.

Why? Because that is were firstly, my Mom, thought that we could not reach, to filtch the odd half penny or penny every once in a while, when that call for bubble gum, or an ice cream, was just to strong.

Secondly, as my Mom was fairly short, it was difficult for her to reach and therefore, the temptation to sneak a tickey from out of the jar for a packet of cigarettes, would have to be very strong indeed.

The pennies would, I must admit would only sometimes, be replaced when I received that princely tickey, which was my weekly pocket money.

Then if not for emergency cigarrettes or bubblegum, what indeed was that very large jam jar for. and how did the money get in there.

What and why was there a jam jar

It was one of those things, that was handed down from those people who grew up during the great depression, circa 1930 in South Africa.

The children that grew up during that period, in otherwords my parents as well as their contemparies, had tales of economy, or how to stretch every farthing and reuse practically every item of cloth and clothing in ways we cannot imagine.

This is where the jam jars came about.

Come Friday night, our Grandparents would sit around the table after the evening meal, the candles would be lit, and out would come the carefully labeled jam jars.

Firstly, all the familly members who were working, would place their weekly paypacket into the centre of the table. The money would then be broken up into piles a stack of farthings, hapennies, pennies, tickeys, sixpenses, shillings etc, would grow as would the few banknotes. This represented the weeks survival.

The contents from any of the labelled bottles that had any monies left in it would be emptied and those coins would then be transfered to that biggest jam jar, the one with no name.

Then the next task began, the rent bottle , would be fed with the correct money , and so to were all the various other bottles be fed, this included the jars with Dad , brothers and some sisters names on, as they had contributed to the pool, they also had expenses to meet in getting to work, so there jar would be filled with again the exact amount required to enable them to travel to work and back, as well as any sundry items that was essential for their personal grooming.

This completed, grandad would carefully count the contents of the unlabelled jar.

I was never a witness to this ritual in my fathers house, as this story was related to me by my Grandma, many many years ago.

The jar with no name, was the entire wealth, the fruit of their combined labour, this is what was carefully hoarded for those times when very dark thunderclouds would threatened the family.

We by and large did not experience that extreme

The lessons for frugality, and the need to not waste, are still firmly entrenched in our general upbringing. So we are a bit of spendthrifts every so often, how do we get back to being a bit more carefull, without scrimping and scraping?

Let us go back to the jam jars.

Collect all the large Jam Jars you think you want to fill.

Make some pretty labels, do not go and by any.

Labels, how to make.

Take an A4 sheet of paper, it can be one that was used on one side only.

Fold it into 1/2 across the length, now fold into half across width, tne fold into half again, unfold completely and cut the paper along all the crease marks.

Make a paste with a teaspoon of white flour and some water, not to runny and nit to firm, spread a little of the paste across the back of the cut paper pieces, then carefully apply the label to the bottle, let it dry.

You can now take the price of a sheet of paper if you have used a printed sheet, subtract the small amount for the flour that you used. Put that into one of those jam jars.

Now every time you use a sheet of A4 in your printer, and don't need to keep it, put that into a box and use the other side of it. Then take the price of that sheet of paper and put into the bottle.

You can label it trees, as you are saving the trees as well as money.

Reuse and Save

We are past masters and the King and Queens of waste, our landfills bear witness to that statement.

So let us think what we can do to save money and our environment at the same time.

We all most probably use those cute little sponge with an abrasive side for doing our dishes, not so!

Well to the majority it is the next best thing to sliced bread, if not better!

Well if you only use them about three or four times and then throw them away I agree!

Any more uses out of that and the hard abrasive layer starts to get soft, if you have a closer look, the grundge and fatty particles are now clogging the works and instead of cleaning you are now just shifting the grime around.

However if like us here in South Africa, your onions, oranges gem squashes all come in a plastic mesh type of bag, not so.

Well now once you have emptied the contents of the bag, they are now discarded. Boy you can fill up a kitchen labelled jar quite easily on this little "freebie".

Scrunch it up and use this to wash your dishes and pots, no grease build up and works longer than those expensive foam gootchies, feed your jar.

Another very useful, use for this item. If you have to take a cat anywhere, vet or relocate kittens etc., it is quite simply to hold your cat and carefully slip him into one that is long enough, only take care not to scrunch the ears. The cat can not get hurt, you simply hold him/her flat on your leg or lap, with your other hand or arm resting on his/her back for comfort.

As he/she can see they do not get too stressed out. I have successfully relocated two fairly excitable cats to new homes as well as sundry trips to the vet.

This jam jar can be labeled environment

Label it Vices

The next set of jam jars are easy, as we all havee vices, those little luxeries athat make being a Homo Sapiens so much more fulfilling.

Now when I was smoking, is it not amazing that we know we are wasting money, but when we stop, there is no extra money drifting around. Or is it that we do not monitor it and have frittled it away on other vises.

Now using the good old fashioned jam jar, we can now trap that cigarette money and actually watch see the money go up in the jar and not smoke.

On paydays, take the money that you would have spent on the smokes, place it in the jar marked smokes, do this for a year, you will see what you have spent/

This does not apply just for cigarettes.

This could also apply for when you just feel you are having a bit too much of your favourite vices.

Mine is coffee, so when I go out and do not have that additional Latte, this then would go into the bottle.

So choose your vices, be it for giving up, or just cutting back, then put your money in iit's jar.

Label it vices

Hey Hey we are here again
Hey Hey we are here again
As you can see
As you can see

Can we save and what for

Which jam Jars would you fill

See results

Thanks for the those Jam Jars Mom

We all need those jam jars, as they contain a wealth of memories.

What did my Mom use her jar for?

Every year the Saturday before Easter, she would take my brother and I to get a new outfit for each of us to wear to church on Easter Sunday. This outing would also include a lunch in a cafe', and then we would go to an afternoon matinee at the local bio-scope.

That is why Jam Jars are so important!


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    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      12 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      RGraf, I used this when I needed to reduce my caffeine intake, I saved quite a bit over 3 months, enough for a slap up dinner for 2 in a reasonable restaurant.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      12 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great idea!!!!

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      12 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      That is also a good way of starting a jam jar, the loose change,as over a yoar it could amount to quite a bit.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      12 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I have a version of that. I write it all down since I usually use my debit card and rarely have cash lying around. On payday I write down what all my bills will be...there are only 4 that come off regularly. Then I write down what I will spend on transportation and food. Then I know exactly how much I can spend on things like clothes, entertainment, etc. It seems to work quite well. I also have a piggy bank where I put my loose change at the end of the day.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      12 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Patty, yes the old folks all seemed to love useing the old jam jars for saving pennies/cents otc.

      Sixty, there seems to be many flashbacks, most of these lately seem to be triggered by fellow hubbers hubs.

      The worlds economics have really made a nosedive, inflation nibbkling away at nest eggs, we really need to start to save, thanks Shalini.

      Vice jars,

      What a Nice jar!

      Choice to choose

      Which to use

      Me I am saving up for a hangover on New Years.

      Thanks Ajcor, with all your thinking, Cheer all round!!!

      I remeber those tins, I had one, one year. That was fun! Thanks for sharing your memory, Amanda.

      All thanks for the comments and keep those jars in use.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      12 years ago from UK

      HI Just_Rodney,

      I enjoyed this hub, it reminded me of home, and my dear old Mum who grew up in war-time London, and had so many little tricks for saving money and making things go further.

      In our house we have Christmas tins. We buy them from the pound shop each year, and they are sealed so that you can only open them with a can-opener. A few weeks before Christmas we count up all the loose change that we've been feeding them with throughout the year. The children buy their Christmas gifts for family and friends with theirs. We adults, who have been a little more serious with our savings, put the proceeds towards our Christmas feast which we have each year on Christmas Eve, and if there's any left over then it goes towards our other Christmas shopping.

    • ajcor profile image


      12 years ago from NSW. Australia

      great idea Just-Rodney - like the idea of a VICE jar - will think about this! cheers

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      12 years ago from India

      What a wonderful idea! I think the time has come for all of us to take stock and save wherever and whenever we can - have a find a few mouths to put the jams in my jam jars first :D

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub More wisdom from time gone by.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Great ways to re-use glass jars! My parents never used one as you describe, but a couple fo great uncles always did.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      12 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      MM, yes a simple method, that actually works as it then becomes a habit.

      thanks for the comment.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      12 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Just-Rodney, sometimes the simple, old-fashioned way really is the best. Love the idea of a jam jar and I will incroporate this into my savings plan! Thank you!!

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      12 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Princessa, these memories are usually set off by something that someone has written here on the hubs, so it is then writtten for others to enjoy. Glad you enjoyed this one.

      Well we can allways work an exchange for the jam jars, you tell us yours and G-Ma will send you a Jam jar.

      Or use some of Kt's envelopes! LOL

      Well, Misty, any bottle could serve the purpose, honey any one?

      Kt, envelopes work well indeed.

      G-Ma, there I have solved your surplus Jam Jar problem, sell it to the hubbers, or better still rent them out and we split the profits. Deal?

      To all thanks for the comments

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      12 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      I can loan out jars I have a lot...Still make my own Jams and Jellies and I save in that way.....anyway was interesting to read your stories and wish my parents had shared more with us...but they chose to make it seem like nothing...G-Ma :o) hugs

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 

      12 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      I do envelopes, here. Same idea.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      12 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Really good advice, if only we ate jam LOL:)

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      12 years ago from France

      A cute idea, unfortunately, if I had a jam jar labelled vices for each one of mine, I would need a bottle collector at my front door! LOL

      Nice hub as always, I truly enjoy reading your family memories.


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