how to deal with the swear jar

swear jar:a jar full of money!so we have a bit of a question here, maybe you can help us.

about six months ago, we started a swear jar. whenever someone swears, they need to put money into the jar. a buck for adults, fifty cents for kids.

now, thanks partly (ok, well, mostly) to the colourful language of yours truly, we have a bit of money accumulated.

what to do with it?

here are five ideas we’ve come with up so far. which one would you recommend? do you have a different idea?

the first three start out with giving the money to charity. but what kind of charity?

  1. a charity that we all like, like the SPCA (society for protection of animals), or the BC cancer agency. an argument for that one would be: we transform something foul into something good. argument against: would it actually encourage swearing?
  2. a charity towards which we feel neutral and to which we would normally not give. say, the rhododendron growers of canada. actually, i quite like rhodos, but i have no passionate feelings one way or the other towards that non-profit organization. argument for: we would still give the money away, to a cause that is at least not unworthy, and at the same time we would not get any satisfaction from giving the money away, thus not creating reinforcement of the swearing
  3. an organization we definitely do not support. maybe there is something like “young nazis of america”, or some sort of homophobic organization. that way, next time one of us thinks about swearing, we’ll think twice, because we certainly don’t want to support these kinds of people.

two more, really variations on the ones above. they might have a bit more ooomph, though.

  1. give the money directly to a person/persons who we don’t want to support.
  2. give the money directly to a person/persons who we do want to support.

over to you: what’s your advice?

this is also my entry into island life’s how to group writing project, about which i found out on jacob’s group writing site. island life is in very good company, by the way: darren over at problogger did a group writing project with the same title two years ago.

here are other entries to that project so far:

(image by allie)


  1. I would suggest that as money is power I would not want the money to go towards a cause which the group would not want to support ordinarily.

    I would send the money to an organisation which was agreed upon by consensus – this would enable the group to feel good about having made the contributions in the first place – regardless of the fact that all donations were made as a penalty for swearing!
    The good that these donations will make far outweigh any person deliberately swearing in order to contribute.
    At the end of the whole process the group could organise another form of fundraising which would enable everyone to have fun and contribute again to the same charity.

    Just some of my thoughts.
    A great post!

    zee harrison’s last blog post..Forgiveness

  2. What fun. I think I’d probably go with trying to do something good or neutral. I agree money is power. And giving money to a cause that’s very much against your beliefs sort of punishes others for your relatively minor transgressions which I don’t know if that’s worth it.

    You could try picking the charity/person out of a hat, maybe or else split the money into virtually useless amounts?

    Or maybe you could give it all to trusted friends and let them give it to the charity of their choice but not tell you where the money went. That way you’d still be doing good but it wouldn’t be reinforcing really because you’d never really know. And then you wouldn’t even get the benefit of it being a tax deductible donation so it wouldn’t be reinforcing that way either.

    Catatonic Kid’s last blog post..Go Gently, Here Be Giants.

  3. I really like this idea of a swear jar. My family is going to have one, I guarantee it! So my fiancee better enjoy his swearing privileges, because once there’s a baby, no more swearing! Or smoking. I don’t care how bitchy he gets.

    Chris’s last blog post..Hehe…

  4. Oh, Isabella, there is only one you! You are wonderful.

    What about this as an option: in my ‘hood there is a *lot* of swearing. It is born of frustration, exhaustion and worn out human beings who have been pushed past the edge – and long past observing societal standards of talking appropriately.

    Why not walk down here with the money and give it either directly to people who ask or go to the Evelyn Sellars soup kitchen (it has a really good reputation among the homeless) and donate? And make part of the experience, listening, and hearing people who swear in the midst of wearying cireumstances.

    (is that too heavy?)

    Nancy’s last blog post..The best things in life are free

  5. thank you SOOOOO much, everyone! this has been very enlightening. i find it absolutely amazing how every time, i think i have thought something through, someone else comes along and gives me yet another idea.

    this really shows the power of blogging and of the community we have here.

    someone at work had yet another idea: give it to a political party you wouldn’t otherwise support. that way, it’s a bit of a punishment and on the other hand, it supports the democratic process.

    (and someone else suggested to use the money for a vacation. the motto could be “the more you swear, the farther you’ll go” 🙂 )

  6. i have another idea which is to divide up the money equally among the contributors and contribute to each person’s long term savings account. (the one you don’t touch until retirement)

    or another idea: you save it up until there is enough money to buy a current edition of an unabridged dictionary, because swearing is sometimes about not having enough different words to express emotion. it’s not really a punishment, and it does bring more words into your life.

    jael’s last blog post..Fuse

  7. I think that jar is a good idea because it’s meant for a good cause. I think it would be nice to give it to a charity that the majority approves of.

    Thanks for the link. Mine is about how to make a cabbage paper mache.

    Rach (Heart of Rachel)’s last blog post..Lalaine’s Giveaway

  8. Well, the root of the issue here is the desire to swear…Obviously, just giving up $1 or 50 cents is not enough of a punishment for the swearing in the first place.

    Now, you are trying to find another reason not to swear after the first one didn’t do the trick, so to speak.

    I certainly do not condone donating the money to an organization that you find questionable or that you do not support…That is just backwards humanity…

    The idea to donate it to something worthwhile is great, or to someone in desperate need…(LOL…like animal refuge project…LOL)…

    I, however, have always been a fan of sewing it back into your family, either your direct family or your extended family.

    So many people send money all over the world (not that that’s not an amazing and selfless thing in itself and is necessary too), but we too often forget our brother or sister that’s struggling to put food on the table for their children, or our cousin that is trying to go back to school, or our neighbor that may be foreclosing on their home…

    If you look around, directly in your own vicinity or family, surely, there are people in need right before your eyes…

    Hope this helps…and thank you for the submission of this article in Blog Carnival!

    Kimberly Edwards 🙂

    Kimberly Edwards’s last blog post..Looking for a Male Albino African Pygmy Hedgehog

  9. kimberley, thanks for your ideas. as i’m thinking about what you’re saying, i become aware that i am extremely lucky – i can’t honestly think of anyone in my (known, and big) family who would need the few bucks that we’ve accumulated. i guess that brings me back to nancy’s idea – go to our downtown eastside and give it there.

    by the way, someone came up with another great idea – give it to the tourette’s society.

    i guess in the next week or so i should let you know what we ended up doing!

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