Three Jars: Teach Your Children Life Lessons About Money

This week and next, I’m thrilled to welcome guest blogger and fellow financial planner Scott Arnold, CFP ® to discuss how using the Three Jars method has helped teach his kids life and money lessons.  Take it away, Scott!


My wife and I have two incredible boys, ages 8 & 6.  Their personalities are very different, but one thing they have in common is an understanding of money.  We have used The Three Jars with them for the past two years and here is how it has helped our family.


We have tweaked the rules over the years with experience.  I’ll lay out the rules this week.  In next week’s blog, I’ll highlight the benefits and life lessons we have been able to teach them.


The Three Jars Method


Find three jars (glass or plastic) per child.   Each jar is labeled as “Spend”, “Save” or “Give”.  Here is a link with pre-made labels.


Every week each boy receives three one-dollar bills.  We do not tie the weekly payments to chores or use it as a disciplinary tool because money lessons cannot be taught unless they receive the payments.


One dollar is put in each Sunday.  The boys are very focused before they get paid so we added a little twist before their payment.  We use this opportunity to ask them three questions.  The questions are random and cover anything from, “What is mom’s cell phone number?” to, “How do you escape the house in a fire?”  They like to show us how they would crawl out of their bedroom and down the steps.  Even if they get the answers wrong, they still get the three dollars.


At the beginning of the month, each child decides how much money he wants to put in the “Spend” jar and how much money will stay in the “Save” jar.


At the end of the month, the “Save” jar will receive 5% interest.  They count the money and calculate the interest.  You would be amazed how fast they will learn when they know they are the ones receiving the money.  We double-check their math.


If a boy spends more money than what is available in his “Spend” jar for the month, they are penalized and do not receive interest for that month.


In December, the boys decide which non-profit they want to support with their “Give” jar money.  We do this on CO Gives Day.  It is an easy way for them to look at the various non-profits, also institutions may match your donation to increase the impact.  They have given to Smile Train, Chihuahua & Small Dog Rescue, Hire Heroes USA and school initiatives to help buy school supplies.


So, that’s how it works.  Stay tuned next week for the benefits and lessons learned using the Three Jars method.



scott arnold, denver CFP


Scott Arnold, CFP®, has been in the financial services industry since 1998.  He is the founder of IMPACTfolio.  A wealth management firm that specializes in sustainable and IMPACT investing.  For more information, visit

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