You owe me a dollar! A self-improving way to save for big goals.

Guest post by Erica

Money - Savings

My beloved and I are not the neatest people on earth. We try, and we spend quite a bit of time each week cleaning up our humble little home, but ultimately the place is usually a little messy.

That being said, he has a habit of leaving his shoes smack in the middle of the front door, and I trip over them every day when I get home from work. This shit drives me INSANE.

One day I snapped. I told him every time he leaves his shoes in front of the door he owes me a dollar. The habit persisted, and every dollar he gives me goes straight into our wedding bank.

Five dollars later, he said I have to give HIM a dollar every time I leave a water glass out of place. This seemed fair, and a few more dollars have been put away. The game is slowly expanding to include any dirty dishes left out, all laundry left unfolded, litter boxes left unscooped, and so forth.

The apartment is getting cleaner each day as we fall into the habit of cleaning up after ourselves, and we’ve already passed our savings goal for the month. I could see this game easily snowballing into a hurtful game of arguing over petty shit, but we approach it with humor and good sportsmanship, so it has been fun.

Like this idea? Offbeat Bride has another: How Lady Gaga can help you save for your wedding.

Comments on You owe me a dollar! A self-improving way to save for big goals.

  1. Is it weird that I’m kind of happy to know I’m not the only one having shoe hazard troubles? In our house they’re left in the relatively narrow gap between the sofa and the bookcase.

    Yes it’s CLOSE to where they’re supposed to be (beside the book case) but there’s a huge difference between tucked neatly out the way and lying right in the walkway.

    I do love the idea of a penalty jar, but it doesn’t work so well when you rarely have change on you. Maybe we could try and alternative like forfeiting your turn to pick a CD to listen to.

    • Haha, I think my husband would respond way more to being forced to listen to my music while doing homewokr than to paying me a dollar. 🙂 Good idea.

      And yes, even though the shoes BELONG in the hallway, somehow they always seem to be in the MIDDLE of the hallway. ARGH!

  2. I love this idea! I am going to put this into use with my husband and son for when they pass gas around me (I can’t escape it; nearly constant stinkiness!!). Hubby will have to come up with something for me.

    Thank you for posting, it’s a great idea!!

  3. Haha I might have to tell the bf about this. Although we are both to good at making excuses to get us out of stuff to come up with the money.

    Maybe we could have a running tally on the wall for the week and whoever looses has to empty the Porta Potti. The most hated of jobs in our house! 🙂

  4. Shoes and water glasses? Messy? Are you sure you don’t live with me? I think I just discovered how we will pay for that tiled shower we have been wanting…

  5. I’m just wondering when you draw the line between saving money and keeping the house clean. This is a great process oriented way to learn to do both. The ultimate goal could be to learn to keep the house spotless [being unrealistic in my case, we would benefit from the extra cash put into savings]. On the way you can learn exactly how much money you can live off of and probably get used to setting aside a certain amount on a regular basis.

    On the other hand, this is a great way to set aside spending money if you’re already used to putting money in a savings account. I may have to snag this idea. 😀

    • The FH and I were super motivated by this article and its comments and you are right it is tricky to draw the line on what should be penalized or not but we’ve got a short list going for a trial run over the next couple of weeks.

      We started last week (05/23/14) and we’ve had several moments of “Ha! You owe me a dollar!”… We’ve gotten a few funny glances but even when I’m the one paying out we both are rolling with laughter.

  6. Actually a really cute idea, I would love to introduce it so my husband stops stealing my towel every morning because he left his in the bedroom the day before. And I know he would love it if I cleaned up my coffee messes…

    It could be a really good way for us to save a bit more money for that far off honeymoon 🙂

  7. I just have to share this one because I think my boyfriend’s messy quirk is the weirdest thing ever: hangers. He never hangs them back up once he puts his work clothes on. Instead, they are on the desk, the couch, the dresser, the floor, and often on top of me in bed since I wake up after him. Seriously. He puts them right on top of my legs!!

    Half the time I’m exasperated and the other half amused because it just seems the most natural thing to me to put the hanger right back in the closet. I’ve had a lot of roommates and grew up with three messy brothers. I’m not the neatest person in the world, either, but the hanger thing is just plain weird to me!

  8. My husband and I did this to get him in the habit of bringing his lunch to work (instead of buying it). We are very competitive by nature so we made it into a game- if he forgot, he paid a dollar into the jar, if he remembered, I lost the “bet” that day and I paid out. We put it towards going out to a nice dinner (instead of blowing it on a month of $5 lunches).

  9. My ex and I did a similar thing with a swear jar, which ended up paying for half of our sofa.

    I think this jar for messy habits could easily be implemented in my household by both of us equally! 🙂

  10. We’re doing this with the kids (his bio/my step) – but its a nickel for leaving the lights on or not using table manners. So that it doesn’t become too much fun to throw nickels at the jar, we told them that if we go a day without anybody having to put a nickel in, then Dad and I will put a dollar in. We’re saving for a family vacation this way. So far we have like $1.75 in nickels and we have only been doing it one weekend!

  11. Just a little note to add. If offer sexual favours instead and then leave the bf at home all day. You will come home to a clean house but get nothing else done for the rest of the day. 😉

    • lol Oh, socks.

      My feet are always frozen (and I stay up late and then the AC turns down lower and the vent is right next to my feet at the computer desk) so I go to bed with socks on, but can’t sleep with them on so I kick them off in the middle of the night..and they end up either down in the covers or the sock graveyard on the floor on my side of the bed.

      I’m also bad about leaving knitting stuff or blankets draped over the couch. He.. well.. maybe his part of the jar thing can be resisting putting my blanket away and not leaving beard in the sink. Ew. -.-

  12. Thank you for this idea. The gent and I have been trying to figure out ways to get us to do our chores regularly. This was implemented last week. If it is your dish night and you don’t want to do them, $1 in the jar. Each night we have to do one chore. If you don’t want to, $1 in the jar. So, being a lazy bum will cost you $2 of spending money. Already any spare change or money found in the washer goes into the jar so we’re just adding to it. My plan is to take it to the bank before the wedding and have bonus money!

  13. Glad to know I’m not the only girl who has a man that leaves his shoes in front of the door. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped over them, and how many times I’ve yelled at him about it. lol. I shared this with him and hoping we can work out the same deal. Thanks for the fantastic idea:)

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