When we were kids, my dad gave my sister and me a wooden money box. It came with a lock, and dad kept the key. We were asked to save any money we received as gifts, as allowance from doing chores, and even bus change leftover from dad, mum, or grandma.
When our boxes were full, we were finally given the key. We were so excited to count each coin one by one and find out how much we had collected. We then divided the money equally into three parts. One pile we deposited into our saving account at the bank, and the other we used to spend, and some was kept aside for the charitable gifts at church during Easter, Christmas and other favorite church feasts.
Later on, our parents taught to us how we could invest into fixed deposits or buy bonds with the money we had saved. My sister learned to read the investment pages in the newspapers and asked my dad to buy shares for her in his name.
As a baby, my own daughter would never allow us pass the Salvation Army bell ringer without stopping and dropping a donation in the box. When I saw this, I decided to do what my dad had done for me. Anushka was about three years when we got her three pink piggy banks that were labeled “saving”, “pocket money”, and “bell ringers box”.
We explained to her that any time she received money, whether it was as a gift, for doing chores, lucky pennies found on the ground, or a reward from the Tooth Fairy, we would help her distribute it equally among her three piggy banks.
The Saving Piggy Bank
Any money put in this piggy bank should be deposited into the child’s bank account at the end of every year. Take your child to the bank and help her open an account when she is ready to make her first deposit. Use this as an opportunity to explain what a bank is and why it’s important to save money. Help her brainstorm some things she wants to save up for to add extra excitement and motivation.
The Pocket Money Piggy Bank
Any money saved in this purse should be used for spending on an item your child chooses. Help her set a goal to buy a toy or treat, and then teach her to develop a sense of patience. For example, my daughter loves arts and crafts, and we often take her to shop at Michaels. Sometimes she cannot make up her mind and wants two or more craft projects. While she has enough spending money to buy both, we explain to her that that we have just one 50% off coupon for that week. We talk through how she can save money if she buys one project now and waits until next week to buy the second one when we have another coupon. It’s important that she understands this, but still makes her own decision in order to truly learn the lesson.
The Bell Ringers Box
This piggy bank is named after the Salvation Army bell ringer. Any money allocated to this jar should be shared with others who are in need or donated to a charity. Children are often presented with different charities/causes through school or church, and will feel proud to participate using their own money. You can educate your children on different causes (ex. Toys for Tots, Feed My Starving Children) and help them find an organization that they want to support.
I’ve been using the 3 piggy banks at home with my daughter for over five years, and it still generates a lot of excitement for her. She loves to go to the bank to use the coin counting machine, make a deposit, and check her account balance. Shopping for a gift to donate to charity or just dropping her money into the Salvation Army box continues to put a big smile on her face and at the same time teaches her responsibility.
Consider giving your child or grandchild three piggy banks for their next birthday and get their financial education started today!
Meryl Roberts is a Financial Administrator at White Oaks. She assists in client and small business bookkeeping, executes accounts payable and receivables for small businesses, generates client financial reports and provides related administrative support.