01 July 2010

Easy Saving with a Family Piggy Bank

I am sure that most of us had piggy banks when we were young. Often our parents or some other thoughtful adult gave them to us as a way of teaching us how to save money. I was given a lovely pink piggy bank by the Bank of New South Wales (now known as Westpac) when I started school. Each week Mum would give me twenty cents and I'd drop it into the bank. I loved to listed to the tinkle of the coins.

When it was full, usually towards the end of the year, I was so excited to have a few dollars that seemingly came out of nowhere. We would empty the piggy bank and take half to the bank, where Mum would fill out a deposit slip and the teller would count the money and record the balance in my pink Disney bank book.  The rest I was allowed to spend on a book or toy, or something else that we wanted.

Our boys were (and still are) train mad and they had a cardboard XPT each that they would put their money in. Hannah has a lovely ceramic Jemima Puddleduck that she still uses for saving for special things. After Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing was published, I was given a gorgeous pink porcelain piggy bank - in the shape of the pig on the cover of the book! I love it, and it has pride of place on my desk. I drop the five cent coins out of my purse into it every now and then.

Sadly and all too often these days, when kids become adults, they forget about those savings lessons learned in their younger years from saving in a piggy bank.(if they were ever taught them). They spend every last cent out of each pay packet and end up without anything left over. These poor kids, or young adults really, are starting out with spending as their main habit, rather than saving.

Wouldn't it be great if we could save up some money to have fun with as easily as we did in our childhood?

Actually, there's no reason why we can't.  A family piggy bank works just as well as those piggy banks that we had as kids. And with the entire family chipping in their change, it can add up much faster than it would with just one child contributing.

Here are some tips for having a successful family piggy bank:

Get the family together and decide what you're going to do with the proceeds beforehand. Maybe everyone would like to go on a trip to Dream World, or perhaps a new home theatre is on your family's wish list. Talk it over, and take a vote if necessary. Having a concrete goal will help motivate everyone to pitch in as much as possible.

Find out how much money you need to make your goal happen and then find a nice, big piggy bank. Since you're saving up for something big, it's good to have a large container for the change so that you won't have to empty it so often. It's also a good idea to use a bank that allows you to remove the money without breaking it, because you may or may not have enough money to meet your goal with one filling. 

Keep the bank in a place where everyone in the family will see it often, and remind family members periodically to contribute. It's easy to forget about saving your change as time goes on, so take it upon yourself to make sure everyone is putting money in from time to time. We use a big gold piggy bank in the shape of a dollar sign. The kids gave it to me and it sits on my desk. Every night we all empty our change into it straight after dinner so it has become a part of our evening routine.

If everybody contributes regularly, the change will add up much faster than you think. In a few months, you may have enough to meet your goal. The family will get a special treat, and the kids will  have learned first-hand about how beneficial (and painless) saving money can be.

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