Piggy BankPhoto by: Marcelo Moura (Stock Exchange)
Piggy Bank #1: The Three Little Piggy Banks
Piggy Bank is a UWSA blog series discussing ways to save small amounts on a regular basis and how the savings add up surprisingly quickly. Please feel free to share your ideas and your stories about how saving “pocket change” added up and helped you and your family reach a meaningful financial goal.
In the grocery store check-out line the other day, I watched a mom struggling to say “no” to her two sons who were begging her to buy them each a little car that the store had strategically placed at their eye level. There were a whole bunch of toys and trinkets there – meant to encourage impulse purchasing in kids – and in parents who instantly decide that a couple of extra bucks is an easy way to make their child happy. Parents beware! These are NOT cheap toys; impulse purchases add up to big bucks very quickly, especially for parents on a budget. Worse, they encourage terrible spending habits in children from the very earliest of ages. We want to teach our kids how to save, not just spend.
The approach I took with my son, who’s two, is the “three piggy banks” system.” The idea is simple and you can make your “three little pigs” system easier or more complex, depending on your child’s age.
The first step is to get three piggy banks for each child. You can purchase inexpensive ones or make your own out of jars or plastic containers. Perhaps you want to let your child pick out the piggy banks or do a craft with them to turn used containers into piggies.
Next, label the piggy banks as follows: “Savings,” “Spending,” and “Sharing.”
The “Savings” piggy bank is for collecting money that your child will keep on adding to over time. One idea is to have the child periodically deposit the money from the “Savings” piggy bank into their very own passbook savings account. This lets them get used to going to the bank and watching the total in their account go up and up — and they’ll see how their money earns interest.
The “Spending” piggy bank is to help your child save for a long-term goal. This depends on age, but with prices nowadays, it’s probably not hard to imagine that even a younger child wants something that will require accumulating enough money. If they choose to purchase something else with this money, like an impulse toy, it means you have a chance to remind them of their other goal and that it will take longer for them to get “the big thing” they’re saving for. This helps children begin to understand the concept of “cost” as opposed to “price.” Their decisions will have real consequences for them – positive and negative. To reach the long-term goal, they will learn to be more patient and not give in to impulse buying and other diversions.
The “Sharing” piggy bank is for donations to a charity that is important to the child or to your family. The satisfaction of helping those in need it is a wonderful feeling to experience at any age. Charitable giving is as American as apple pie. We have the highest level of individual donations in the world year after year after year.
Once the piggy banks are set up, whenever your child receives money, whether it’s allowance, a birthday gift, payment for shoveling the neighbor’s driveway etc., it gets divided evenly among the three piggy banks.
The three piggy banks can teach children to see money in many ways, not just in terms of what it can buy them. They also see that money can grow into more money and that it can help them help other people. It’s never too soon to start.
The three piggy banks is also a way to encourage your child to spend from the “Spending” piggy bank, rather than your wallet. It might not stop a child from asking you to buy them a trinket they spot at the check out counter, but it will give them an understanding of why you say “no” and a true sense of appreciation on the rare occasion that you say “yes.”
Got a great story about saving money? Please share your inspiration! Write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org