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Irrationality: The Key To Successfully Saving Money and Planning a Wedding

Joey, my fiancée, and I weren’t officially engaged until September 2010 but we  knew early on in our relationship that we were headed towards marriage. We also knew that paying for a wedding would be the most annoying financial decision of our lives.

Then in July 2009, a Lady Gaga song came on the radio and changed everything. No, seriously. I was incredibly sick of the song, so I changed the station…to another Lady Gaga song. I changed the station again…to yet ANOTHER Lady Gaga song. I sent a text to Joey:

Geez. 3 Gaga songs on at a time. We should put a dollar in a jar every time we hear one.

And so started our so-called Wedding Jar.

The song game came to include any song by the Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy and Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop”. “Lollipop” and Fall Out Boy were worth $5 each because they are played on the radio less. Eventually, we also added $1 for every time we saw someone wearing camouflage (not military-issued).  We would also have bonus weeks with $1 for things like seeing yellow plaid shirts or hearing Madonna songs from before 1996.

Our friends thought told us they though it was hilarious and I would regularly get texts with things like, “Lady Gaga on Z-100!” or “Old guy next door wearing camo today.”

In the spirit of saving money, we decided to actually put money in the Jar for whenever our friends saw/heard them too. We kept the Jar going until September 2010.

How much money did we save between July 2009 and September 2010?


That’s an average of $480 per month. This means we each put about $3,365 or an average of $240 each per month in the Jar in just over a year. I don’t think I’ve ever saved so much money for a specific purpose so quickly in my life!

There was an actual jar and on the first of every month I would take our money and put it into a savings account at my local bank with a crappy interest rate.

In September 2010 we stopped putting money into the jar and we researched CDs with high interest rates until we would really need the cash–which would be mid-late spring 2011 when payments for venues, flowers, etc would be due.

We went with Ally Bank’s High Yield 6-Month CD (an online bank) because they consistently had the highest CD rate. We got a 1.3% interest rate and so far we have netted about $40 in interest on our Jar fund. Not much but better than the .05% from the savings account (about the same as keeping it in a jar).

Saving money is like working out: much easier when you have (a) a partner (b) a goal and (c) a irrational fun way to do it.

We got the most money from seeing people wearing camo–about 40% of our Jar fund–and is there anything more irrational than wearing camo when you are not in the jungle?


2 Responses

  1. Congrats on your self-styled modification to an ages old concept: pay yourself first. Whether you pull a predetermined amount from your paycheck and deposit it or create a circumstance where that amount is determined by your own whims, the result is the same. My modification is that I don’t spend change…at all!! Even if I have it, break the bill, forcing myself to save more. I made the down payment on my first house in quarters, dimes and nickels. Do you recall the $1000 we counted, wrapped and deposited from Avery’s huge Pepsi change bottle when you came up that weekend a few years back? I’ve done that several times since. Of Avery’s 10’s of thousands in savings, about 1/3 of it is from this method.
    Keep up the good work, and DON’T stop when your wedding is paid for. You’ll have kids soon and they’ll need their master’s degree soon enough. Good Luck.

    • Different banks have that feature as an option built into their check cards–purchases are automatically rounded up and the difference is deposited into a savings account, usually with a higher rate than a standard savings account.

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