01.18.2012 / Lessons From a Piggy Bank

We recently celebrated my daughters second birthday and she received an abundance of gifts including a large, make that GIANT, piggy bank. Seriously, if Warren Buffet had a piggy bank this would be it, except probably not pink with flowers. My first thought was, there is NO WAY we will fill this thing, EVER!

"According to the American Bankers Association, children who save have more self control, are more likely to go to college and have a better outlook on life.*"

Then, the nurturing part of me said “why not make it a goal to fill this ginormous bank and teach her the valuable lesson of saving?”  After all, according to the American Bankers Association, children who save have more self control, are more likely to go to college and have a better outlook on life.* Plus, if you think about it, practically everything you need to know in life, you can learn from your piggy bank: hard work pays off; the value of delayed gratification; setting priorities; making choices; budgeting; achieving goals; sharing; and so forth.

It may take her entire toddlerhood to accomplish, but I am determined to help her fill this piggy bank.  I also know that saving can be a lifelong lesson and I can change my lesson plan as she grows:

• Ages 2-4 –Allowing her to place a coin in her bank as a reward for positive behavior such as successfully using the big girl potty is sure to be way cooler than other incentives.  And, the behavior being incented can change over time.  Emptying the bank to count the coins (with adult supervision) will develop basic math skills and demonstrate that the different coins equal different amounts of money.

• Ages 5-8 – Money could be earned from household chores, lemonade stands, gifts etc.  This age is perfect to work on the concept of making choices with money. For example, if we buy a new doll today, we can’t play putt-putt tomorrow. 

• Ages 9-12 – This will be a good time to talk about some of bills we pay as adults.  Helping her save up to pay for half or all of a desired item will be a good lesson in delayed gratification, budgeting and prioritizing.

• Ages 13 and up – this is an ideal time to start encouraging a part time job to earn more money such as babysitting, walking dogs for neighbors, or grocery store carryout.  Earning larger amounts of money sets the stage for saving for big ticket items such as a car, college, etc. It will also be appropriate to ask her to contribute to family gifts to teach the lesson of sharing money and budgeting for upcoming events.

Wow, who knew a piggy bank, a really BIG piggy bank, could inspire a lifetime of lessons for my child?

Citation – Article taken from, Jan/Feb 2012 Issue

*American Bankers Association. (2011).  Top Five Reasons for Opening a Children’s Savings Account [Press Release].  Retrieved from

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