Starting Young

KJ: My first memory of money as a child was a piggy bank. I had several when I was younger, but the earliest and most prominent one that sticks out was a piggy bank that was in the shape of three houses. It had three compartments to learn to split your money three ways: one for spending, one for saving, and one for tithing/gifting. There are a lot of these available for your children these days:

(Amazon has a few – see image above for a sample that will help support our blog on purchase…you’re happy, your kids are happy, and we’re happy!), and I think it is an excellent way to start teaching your kids early about what it means to give and to save in addition to learning about spending. Even as a child, I enjoyed collecting my money and putting more in the savings bucket to buy bigger and better things later.

While the piggy bank approach is a very simple approach, it can be applied to my life today. Although unique to each person and their goals, it’s a good exercise to think of these buckets and how they apply to your life. Whether a paycheck, gift, lottery, bonus, inheritance, radio contest winnings, game show winnings, etc. think about how you want to allocate your money across these three pillars. Sometimes the ‘giving’ bucket can take many forms: ‘forced giving’ through taxes and social programs as well as personal giving through tithing or donating to you favorite cause. The saving can also take equally as many forms: retirement, house down-payment, car, or children’s college.

When I was a kid, we were given a set amount each week to spend on lunches as we wished (whether we took our lunch or not), so I would often take my lunch and save the money like a chipmunk. I would either bring sandwiches from home or buy a cheaper meal at school since saving that extra money meant I could purchase that next big video game that was coming out (or you know, continue to save it up for a future home down payment…lofty goals for a teen).

AJ: I was raised with grandparents who insisted that any money we were given for holidays must be spent on “things you wouldn’t buy yourself,” so I never saved gift money. I proudly spent it on things I now cherish that are great memories of my grandparents. Not that Kirby doesn’t have incredible memories associated with his grandparents, but he could probably buy a pre-owned car with the money he received as gifts that he immediately invested. Regardless, I have always had a healthy appreciation for money thanks to a savings account that my parents created for me at a very young age. I received monthly statements and we sat down together to review the total balance line, contribution line, and interest earned line. It’s incredibly important that families focus on these kinds of values and that parents encourage their kids to understand where money comes from, how to earn it, and how to increase what they have beyond basic contributions. Traditionally speaking, most kids understand the concepts of “more” and “mine” well enough to be incredible savers, they just don’t know it yet. A child’s imagination is a beautiful, incredible thing. Leverage your children’s ability to dream by helping them understand the true value of money and investing.

    Share your first memories of money.

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3 thoughts on “Starting Young

  1. What a great post! I had never heard of that Money Savvy Pig and it’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that resource. One memory that came to mind after reading your post was how I would store my money as a child. I would take old film cases (before digital came along) and put my money in them. It was fun and exciting to see how many cases I could fill up! Taught me to save money. Yet, I like the concept in your post to help young ones think about “buckets.” Such a good lesson to learn early.

    Great post! Thanks again for sharing!

    • I do remember doing that a little too…see how many film cases you can fill up with that spare change. My favorite savings bank was a bank that had three houses. I would try to put as much money in the ‘save’ bucket as I could. I can’t seem to find it available anywhere though, so it must not have been very common or popular!

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