Tips to life and financial planning with “The Jar of Life”

Planning for life and finances is like having a GPS to guide your way and keep you from losing the way. It helps you in prioritizing things in your life about which one should be done first so that you won’t waste your time and be disappointed in losing the way. Today, ACU PAY will introduce you to the secret of financial planning, which is ‘The Jar of Life’

What is ‘The Jar of Life’

The Jar of Life or the Pickle Jar Theory is a concept of time management that is limited to maximum efficiency by prioritizing things in life and choosing the most priority through four items: empty jars, large stones, gravel, and sand so that we can picture the importance of our lives more clearly. Each has the following meanings:


  • Empty Jar is like “Time” that we have limited and everybody has the same amount of time which is 24 hours a day. 
  • Stone is like “The most important thing” in your life. It will have the greatest impact on life if you do not have these things such as family, relationships, health, and friends.
  • Gravel is like “the second most important thing” in life. It is something that needs to be done. Without it, we can still live and life is still full of big stones such as occupation, home, car, hobby.
  • Sand is like “the least important thing” in life. With or without it, there are no bad consequences and it should be done in your spare time such as spending time on social media, shopping or watching series. 

As it is known, the Jar of Life can be applied in any context of work to increase efficiency or even as a financial planning tool. The comparisons are as follows:

  • Empty Jar is like the amount of one’s savings in the saving pocket 
  • Stone is like “The most important financial goal in life.” The money must be divided into plans and investments such as retirement funds, emergency savings, family-building, and child education.
  • Gravel is like “The second important financial goal in life.” in life. It is necessary but not a must. Some of the money can be divided into investments as appropriate, such as buying a house, getting married, and doing business.
  • Sand is like “Financial goals to achieve dreams.”  It is often a luxury to fulfill the happiness of the mind. When other goals are nearly completed, the money should be divided into this part as the last thing, such as shopping, traveling around the world, and going to concerts abroad.

Putting stones without priorities, such as putting sand in first, will not fill a jar with all gravel and stones which is like we are spending too much money on luxury things for our personal needs till money that should be saved or should be invested is not sufficient such as emergency fund or post-retirement fund in case you are suddenly laid off.

So putting stones in a jar in the right order should start with the largest stone first, which is our life-critical savings, such as emergency funds, post-retirement money, tuition, and then gravel, secondary important money such as buying a house, buying a car, getting married or further studying and sand for happiness spending should be put last.

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