How our kids' earliest savings lessons started with a pig

How our kids' earliest savings lessons started with a pig

April 20, 2023

Who would have thought that a green piggy bank called Penny the Pig was one of your kids’ most vivid memories of childhood?

In preparing this blog for Teach Your Kid to Save Day, I decided the best way to approach it was to let my sons share their memories and perspective on the lessons they’ve learned about setting aside money.    So here they are – Bas (21) and Finn (19), both current college students.

“I was probably five when we got Penny the Pig,” remembers Finn.  “It had four compartments where you could put money – Spend, Save, Donate, and Invest.  We would usually put $1 into donate every week and even amounts into the other 3 based on our allowances so that Donate equaled 10% and the others each 20%.  If we were saving for something specific (not our long term), like we did for an X-box one year, we would ask our family members for money instead of gifts on holidays so that we could put it towards that thing we were saving for.  Invest was always the long-term money, and I don’t think I even understood what that meant at that time.”

 “The habit of putting aside 20% of whatever we earn was made with that first piggy bank,” said Finn.  It has gotten even better since you and Papa automatically match whatever we put into our long-term investments.  I looked at the balance of my ROTH a few weeks ago, and it’s pretty exciting to see.”   

When asked if he was ever tempted not to put aside 20% of the money he earns, Bas shared, “It’s tempting not to save.  But I’ve been raised hearing stories of people that have had amazing habits and do great things, like taking their whole family on trips every year.  On the other hand, you’ve also told me there are people who are stressed to death about their finances and I want to be like the first person and not the second.  I have also heard you and Papa talk about how money is one of the top causes of divorce, and I want to make sure my future marriage is strong around this issue.” (Bas has a serious girlfriend)

“Papa is Dutch, and you both modeled frugal living, particularly when we were younger”, chuckled Bas.  “I always made my lunch at home, and buying them was something I was allowed to do every now and then.  We rarely went out to eat when we were younger, even when we had sports after school.  On the rare instance, we did go out to eat, it was to really good places.  We have always traveled a good deal, but Papa searches for inexpensive flights.  That has taught me that a few hours of sitting in the back of a plane all cramped up is a small price to pay for being able to spend time traveling.”

In closing, Bas and Finn both advise their peers to start saving money early.  Finn summed it up by saying, “Starting early is important because of the compounding that has happened over the decades.  The money I am setting aside now is going to be more powerful in terms of how it grows than if I wait 20 years and start socking it away.”

In summary, the three lessons they both have both learned are:

  • Pay yourself first – start early and let your money compound
  • Take advantage of the “free money” (that’s Harold and me right now matching their ROTHs but one day this might be a 401k match from an employer)
  • Be a good saver so that you can give your future family great experiences

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