the dream jar

May 6, 2011

I’d like to introduce to you The Dream Jar.

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I’m not sure why I just called it the Dream Jar — since no one has actually ever referred to it as the Dream Jar until just right now. However, it makes sense. Last July when the Husband and I got married, we started dreaming of another vacation when we returned from our honeymoon. Somewhere warm, tropical, and relaxing — perfect for a new couple who had been spending their time getting use to being married. And yes, friends — you do have to get used to it.

For the last year, every evening, we empty our pockets. I empty my far too disorganized purse that seems to hold more gum wrappers than dollar bills, more coupons than lip gloss, and more tissue than gift cards. I am also not proud enough to turn away free change — like when I’m out to lunch with my mom. Somehow her change purse always seems to empty out into my hand. I’m also glad my brother doesn’t read my blog because he would be very upset to hear Mom has been handing out her change to another child.

Every evening, all of that change gets dropped into The Dream Jar, hoping someday it will add up to something significant — something huge — something worth talking about.

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At first, it didn’t seem like much. The first few months were painstakingly slow. The jar seemed to be a bottomless pit. The jar was laughing at our efforts to reach for something that seemed impossible. In fact, if it weren’t for the Husband, I probably would have cashed in this change months ago, when the winter seemed too long and money was tight — not shopping this winter was tough. I could have done it with the help of the jangly coins in the bottom of this jar, but I resisted, only knowing what our final goal was.

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Slowly but surely, the change jar started to fill up. In fact, I can’t even remember when it went from being painfully empty to almost full. I can only remember that one night when I went to pilfer the change out of the Husband’s office, I could barely lift that Dream Jar up. Over the course of living, a change had taken place under our not so observant eyes.

While the Dream Jar is not going to pay for a vacation in full, it will be the spending money the Husband and I take with us when we go on our vacation this year. Yes, I will be cashing it in before that. Do you honestly think I could reach the fifty pound limit with this change jar in tow? I can barely do that when I put all my toiletries and shoes in the Husband’s suitcase. This summer when we are relaxing on a beach in Punta Cana, I will look back and smile on how something so small, so insignificant, added up to something far greater than we realized.

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Everyone has their own Dream Jar. A goal, a change, a dream that seems so far off it doesn’t even seem worth it to work towards it.

You may be frustrated with your healthy food choices — wondering if in fact eating whole unprocessed foods is actually worth it for the long haul. Talk to me in twenty years and let me know if you are grateful that you took the higher road to health. Think it doesn’t matter? Start filling up your dream jar.

Perhaps you are not at the place in your life you thought you might be at XX years old. You would be more accomplished. You would be married. You would have had children. You would be on the top of it all, taking life in stride one day at a time. Not there yet? Start filling up your dream jar.

Maybe you had a fitness goal you wish you had accomplished. Seeing many other accomplish races, marathons, triathlons is getting you down. There was only one way everyone else got to that point. They started filling up their dream jar each and every night, slowly making their way to that point.

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Dream big. Start small. Watch it all add up.

I’ll see you in the Dominican Republic in July.

Question: What are you filling your Dream Jar up with?

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Cait May 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm

i love this girl :) my ‘dream jar’ is actually an old case for a watch i had an i always put my spare change in there ;) it’s usually for extra cash i need for today..when i had to spend $153 to get my cat’s HAIR CUT..oh goodness. have a great friday! xo


megpinkgiggles May 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I’ve had a ‘dream jar’ ever since I could remember. As soon as I started dating my boyfriend, he had one too. Not sure what we are dreaming about yet…but it’s gunna be good :)


char May 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Awesome post, Chelsey…it’s so true. Starting that dream jar now could mean the world of differences. I better show my hubby this post!


oatsandspice May 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

How exciting – you are going to have a blasttt in the Dominican. My sisters were just there in April for their senior Spring Break trip and they had the time of their lives – they stayed at a resort in Punta Cana.

Don’t you just loveee cashing in your coins jars?! Have an amazing weekend girly!


gagagrapefruit May 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I NEEDED THIS POST TODAY! honestly. thanks so much girl, it gave me that little push of inspiration going into the next week :)


izzy May 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I have a “dream jar” too – it’s actually my at-home “tip jar”. It’s an old chai tea tin, and every week when I get my tips from work , they ALL go in there. Sure some weeks are slower than others, but I have around $200 in there now and I can’t wait to put it towards a treat for myself :) (Considering that all my other $$ goes at tuition and fancy baking flours :)



Simply Life May 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

oh I love this! we do something similar with our bank account since neither of us usually has cash and I love how these small changes really can add up!


Jess May 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

That is SUCH a good idea!! I will definitely do that with my (future) family someday!!


BrocStar May 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Awesome idea. I don’t carry cash in the city, and all the quarters I do have go towards laundry!
My “dream jar” is taking steps towards getting healthier. I just bought some new pants, one size down, last night. I’m back to where I was last summer before i injured my foot.. and it feels awesome!


Lauren May 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I always use the coin jar analogy in my budgeting seminar! Students (and adults) are always so amazed to see how much the little extra change really adds up!


missymiller May 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I need a dream jar.
I need to fill it up with positive things. I need to sribble it down on scraps of paper or something and watch them pile up. Thanks for the inspiration.

If you and your hubs want to vacay in South Florida you can stay at my apartment and I will move in with my parents. For real!

On that note, dream big. Don’t vacay in Fort Lauderdale. I’m thinking Hawaii or the French Riviera or a cruise. But my offer stands.


cleaneatingchelsey May 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

That positive note jar would be AWESOME! And I just might take you up on a vacation in Ft. Lauderdale! :)


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I’ve tried to make coin jar before, but I always get way too tempted to take out the money and spend it! :P Maybe I should try to start one again to save up for a Vitamix!!


cleaneatingchelsey May 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Oh that would be fantastic!


Rachel May 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I had a jar where I kept all the silver change I got from waitressing. I NEVER cashed in my change at the end of the night, I always just put it in a jar. By the time I cashed it in 4 years later, I had enough for a down payment on a car.


Katy (The Singing Runner) May 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Wow oh wow Chelsey. This post really touched me. Seriously, the last line “Dream big. Start small. Watch it all add up.” sent goosebumps up my arm.

Love love love it!


cleaneatingchelsey May 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

:) So glad it spoke to you Katy!


Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} May 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm

This is great. We have a change jar, too, and were so surprised at how quickly the money added up. Great message, too. Start small, but dream big. I love it!


Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm

what a wonderful post, I love how you tied it into the effort we put into achieve any goal, so very true.

Right now we’re working towards being able to have a family and that goal is achieved by reaching our professional goals :) each ties into another so perfectly…


Laura @ Meet Virginia May 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I have a jar too! It is a regular sized mason jar and every time it fills up I use the money for a trip to the grocery store. Haha, I’m so lame!


Katie May 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm

This was a really great post, Chelsey. Really great.

My brother and his wife honeymooned and Punta Cana. You are going to have a blast!


janetha May 6, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Such a great post and analogy to life. You are one smart lady! Now take that vacation and spend that dream money :)


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 6:41 am

Thanks J!


Christina @ The Athletarian May 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm

What a great post! Now that I think of it, I have so many dream jars but they’re not actual physical jars. The most recent one is a bank account that the boyfriend and I opened together. We started it in January and deposit a certain amount of money in it every month, hoping it will amount to a downpayment for a condo by sometime next year :D


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 6:42 am

That is awesome! And believe it or not, being a first time buyer, you really don’t need much to put down!


Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) May 7, 2011 at 2:07 am

Wow. What an AMAZING and INSPIRING post Chelsey!! I love it!! I’m just trying to fill up that jar with love at the moment- no matter what I do, I want to do it with passion and love and with God beside me :)

And lucky you the Dominican Republic?! Sounds AWESOME, can I come?! ;)


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 6:43 am

Your goal is absolutely stellar Emma!


Katie May 7, 2011 at 4:21 am

“more gum wrappers than dollar bills” – hahaha, I can so relate.

But in all seriousness, this is fantastic! I’m so excited for you guys!


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

It’s always the truth! And I so hope Babycakes makes her appearance tomorrow for Mother’s Day!


movesnmunchies May 7, 2011 at 4:36 am

that jar is so cute! and seriously filled to the brim! its so cool to see how big its gotten over time! If I had a dream jar- Id fill it with peanut butter…
nahhh just kiddin…
well not really..


Christine (Merf) May 7, 2011 at 6:08 am

My career has been a dream jar. I came out of college and grad school with such big dreams and plans, but I had to start at the beginning. When I started my first job doing data entry, it felt like I’d never have my dream job. I had to prove myself year after year, getting incrementally more responsibility and opportunity. I sort of do feel like I woke up one morning and realized I’d “gotten there”. Looking back it seemed like I’d never get here, but little by little I did.

These days I mentor young women just out of college and I see their big dreams. I feel their disappointment that they aren’t where they want to be yet. I am going to start sharing the concept of the Dream Jar. I love it.


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 6:40 am

That is a great dream jar story!


Michele May 7, 2011 at 6:48 am

What a great post! I agree.. we all got where we are by taking it one step at a time! My first four years of nursing were a drag and I felt like i’d never get “where I wanted” but I am finally in the icu and couldn’t love it anymore.. looking back i know i wouldnt be the nurse i am today without my 4 years of other experience! oh, and one time i saved up my pennies and coins like that in high school and took it to coinstar and it ended up being lots of money! :)


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

Wow – what a great story Michele! I bet it feels great knowing you’re where you wanted to be at in your career.


Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit May 7, 2011 at 6:49 am

Very nice! We have a “dream jar” too, but it’s in the form of a HUGE pig that I had made for us for our first anniversary. It has a poem I wrote on the side, and a bunch of personal messages. We named him “Carl the Journey Pig”. He’s awesome. He helped us get to Jamaica last year and will probably do the same for us this year too!


Tiff May 7, 2011 at 9:29 am

What a great idea! Why have I not been doing this???


Laura May 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

I love the dream jar idea! I am starting one now:)


Julie H. May 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

My husband does this for me, he keeps his change and jokes about buying me a gumball ring, last time it turned out to be a beautiful simple necklace with his birthstone in it. LOVE IT! (especially because we cashed it out on one of the worst days of my life, to make me smile)
Our honeymoon was so not cool!…. I got a HORRIBLE infection and we had to go home after a day and a half. He had to drive me 10 hours home when all I wanted to do was die. What an AWESOME first week of marriage! NOT! I am hoping for a Honeymoon redo this summer!!!


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

Oh no! That souds like the honeymoon from Hell! Glad you’re “redoing” it this year!


thefitacademic May 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

my husband (at the time boyfriend) & my first trip ever was to the Dominican Republic. Had a PHENOMENAL time! Still one of my favorite vacations of all time (and I’ve been fortunate to have vacationed a lot in my days) : ) You should have a contest where we guess the amount of the Dream Jar!!!


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

I have heard so many things about the DR and I can’t wait – I’ve heard it’s beautiful!


amk002 May 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

What a great post! I’ve done this same thing before with a jar of my own :)


britchickruns May 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

oOh this is a lovely post! I have a lot of Dream Jars – one is about self acceptance, one is about becoming an awesome marathoner, and one is saving to buy myself a beautiful sofa when I get my first apartment. Ever since I was about 14, I had the bank automatically take £ out of my account to go into savings (a tiny amount, but it happened monthly). I don’t notice it leaving cos it’s such a tiny amount, but 8years down the line, with money going in 12 x a year…well, by the time I DO get my first apartment, my beautiful sofa will be a reality!


JennsAdventures May 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I think you’re my favorite blogger.. awesome post Chels!


cleaneatingchelsey May 7, 2011 at 7:38 pm

and that was such a lovely comment – thank yoU!


Corey @ the runners cookie May 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

You are a very gifted writer! I loved this post. It shows how a little, everyday things, can add up to a big dream, not only in terms of money but also in terms of hope. It made me think of something else too – how there can be these big stressors and burdens in our lives, but if we take small steps everyday to change how we think about them, someday they might be not affecting us at all. (Sorry if I’m way over-analyzing this…I tend to do that!) Thanks for this inspiring, uplifting post Chelsey!


Bekki May 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

What a great idea- you will love Punta Cana- we were married there and it was the best!!! Have fun!!


Jess@HealthyExposures May 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I love this :) You really hit home with the fitness goal and running, too. That jar and coins stand for so much more than a jar and coins . (…but I love saving up all my change and being wow-ed at how much I can get to, too!)
glad you and the husband have a great vacation planned for the summer!


lifeisbeachykeen May 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Hi! New reader here, I found your blog through The Singing Runner –

Love this post. I also have a “Dream Jar.” It’s a 1 gallon paint can that we have had for about 4 years. We’ve filled it up and emptied it out a few times. We haven’t used it for vacation, but we’ve used it to buy things we wouldn’t normally buy.

I have a “dream jar” for racing; goals I’ve set of things I want to accomplish.

Great post!


Alaina May 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Our dream jar is filling up with money for our first home when the hubby gets back from his deployment. :-)


kaia May 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm

The bf and I have had one for a while now, and it funded part of our California trip last summer. Hope you see lots of dreams come to fruition with your dream jar!!


Christine May 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I have a glass jar for change too- I save it the entire year and use it towards Christmas gifts. I cash it an at a Coin Star stand and convert it into an Amazon gift card so there are no extra charges- and presto, videogames and movies for the men in my life!


OperationHotMama May 8, 2011 at 8:33 am

I love this idea! I need a dream jar for a vacation and a reality jar for my children’s college fund… I can see myself now standing in front of the jars questioning in my head which jar to put my money in first. :)


cleaneatingchelsey May 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm

vacation jar – definitely. :)


johan May 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Awesome post.

I am busy with exams and your post is really uplifting.


enzoandi May 9, 2011 at 2:10 am

Hi, I’m a new reader too, and I think this post was exactly what I needed to read! For me, my dream jar’s been on exercise and healthy eating. I gained a lot of wait last year and that got me so depressed but then last december after trying on a pair of jeans that were once baggy and could barely get up my hips I decided enough was enough. Starting to exercise and eat well again at the height of the christmas season was hard to put it lightly! But I guess every little action towards losing the weight helped because now I’m back to where I was before and with more muscle to speak off! Thank you for putting it all in perspective! Now to apply it to saving change :D


cleaneatingchelsey May 9, 2011 at 6:07 am

I’m so glad this post spoke to you! Good luck!


Sophie @ threetimesf June 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Wow, what a great metaphor and post – thank you so much for putting my life in to some sort of perspective! And well done for saving for so long and not touching it, seriously – big props! I’d never have managed it! But it’ll make all those holiday cocktails taste 100x better! :)


kellesbelle July 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I have used a change jar since I got married just so we could have some extra money when we really needed it and in the beginning this extra money was essential. I now keep a treasure chest of $1 bills next to the change jar for all of the $1 my husband and I have in our wallets. Each night we empty out the change and $1 bills and put them in their respective homes and then they are both cashed in for our vacation fund once a year. Any money not used on the trip from this fund goes into our savings account. This has turned into a win/win for our family


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