First Piggy Bank – A Mistaken Lesson in Money Management?

How old were you when you got your first piggy bank? Most of us had a piggy bank when we were growing up. Usually, it was the first lesson that any of us got in managing our money. The piggy bank has been the universal symbol of savings throughout the world for well over a century. In fact, the first piggy bank is the most traditional way to introduce the concept of money management to children. That stalwart tradition, however, is the least effective way of managing money, and most of the time, a child never learns another.

An examination of the piggy bank's origin will shows how it contributes to the piggy bank mentality about money. In past centuries in Europe, the formal banking institutions only deal with the wealthy aristocracy. They wanted nothing to do with most of the world, the working class. Those folk traditionally kept the few coins that were able to amass in jars or pots made of cheap clay called pygg. These jars became known as pygg banks, in reference to the financial institutions and historically, the story goes, a clever potter started painting pygg jars in the shape of actually pigs. From there, it was just a short step to marketing them to parents as a savings program for children.

But what do children actually learn from piggy banks? If you think back to your childhood and your first piggy bank, you'll realize that piggy banks teach children to save to spend. Think about what happened when the ice cream man came around. All over the neighborhood, children raided their piggy banks for the coins they'd saved up for their ice cream treat each week. That first piggy bank taught us that we should invest our coins in a cute little piggy that yields no return on the investment, not even the low 1-2% garnered by the typical savings program. Most of them, it was the only money lesson taught to a child, alongside the notion that you have to work really hard to earn money. With that background, it should be no surprise to us that close to 80% of our population will have to get financial assistance from family or from the government in the next decade.

When we understand that piggy banks areose from poverty, it's easy to see that the only lesson they teach is saving to spend. It's time we abandoned the old piggy bank tradition and understood that it's a symbol of our unexamined traditions regarding money. We can not raise our children with the outmoded traditions that will not serve them well for their future. It's time we borrowed the piggy bank from its position of financial educator and found better ways to teach our children how to manage their money.


Source by Elizabeth Dasilva

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