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The Tip Jar

I am a coffee shop kind of guy.

I like the aroma of fresh ground coffee, the music, the atmosphere, the people-watching and, I almost forgot, the coffee. My favorite drink is a mocha and I sample them whenever and wherever I travel.

While on the road a few years ago I wandered into a coffee shop and ordered my mocha. As I was waiting for my beverage to be crafted, I noticed a tip jar on the counter with a little typed sign secured to the front. It read “Thank you for helping us pay for our child’s college.” I asked the young man behind the counter about the tip jar and he told me that he and his wife decided that a college fund would be the best use for any tips received. I smiled and asked how old their children were and he told me they did not have any yet, they were just planning for the future.

Wow! I really liked this young man on so many levels.

He and his wife had set a goal to fund college before they even started their family. I asked how the college fund was going and he said quite well. In fact his customers were very generous with their spare change and he was already building a respectable bank account.

As I was thinking about his tip jar I began to wonder how he treated his other employees. After all they should share in the bounty of the tip jar too. It turns out they do; the owner divides up the weekly take into equal parts among all staff. He had a formula that rewarded all.

And, by the way, he made an outstanding mocha!

After that encounter I began to think of other uses for a tip jar.

My wife, Linda, and I keep a change jar in the kitchen and every night I make a deposit to our jar. I just empty my pockets and Linda contributes from her purse and the jar keeps filling. Our jar is designated for gambling funds for our next trip to Las Vegas.  It is amazing how much money we accumulate in a year by tossing coins into a jar!

The concept of saving money this way became a topic of conversation with some clients over the past few months and it turns out tip jars are more popular than I thought. Some of the uses were very interesting. One client uses his as a technology fund for buying new devices. Another has designated the change jar as their Christmas money to be spent on the kids. They divide the total by three and that is what they spend, end of story.

If you use a change jar, please leave your comments as to what you do with the money you save. If you don’t use this simple way of saving, I strongly recommend that you start.  You will be amazed at how much ends up in the jar!

Read more posts by Gary Sirak, financial consultant. Gary is a blogger for JenningsWire.