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Why Piggy Banks Fail to Teach Wealth Habits to Kids

Jun 4, 2008
We've all done it. We have a young child or grandchild and we think, "Let me buy him/her an adorable little piggy bank that they'll love and feed, and then the child will grow up and understand the value of a penny saved is a penny earned."

It sounds good. It makes sense. It should work. But, it doesn't. Why not? Because piggy banks teach negative, dysfunctional and counter-productive money beliefs, that we just do not fully realize or comprehend until we're into our busy 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and trying to raise a family. These "piggy bank habits" are completely contrary to "wealth habits."

What are some of the negative and very limiting money beliefs that piggy banks teach? Let's take a look:

- Put all of your money here in one place
- Let it sit there being useless
- Ignore this bank, ignore your money
- When you want your money, then you must dig, scrape, bang, and break into the bank to get to it to use it
- If you want to count your money, you must dig, scrape, bank and break into the bank to get to it to count it
- When you do finally get to your money, you may find that maybe you have enough, or maybe you don't - it's a wild guess

Think about this:

Would you like to run your household finances with these beliefs? What if someone told you that you had to manage your household finances in this way?

You would tell them, "You're crazy!" This system would result in complete frustration, chaos, aggravation and dysfunction if it were applied to your household finances.

In addition to teaching negative money beliefs to our children, piggy banks are completely impractical and "disrespectful" toward today's money. Piggy Banks may be cute and adorable, but they are completely lacking in the basics that a bank needs to allow us to work with our money and to allow money to work for us.

Ever try to put a coin into a piggy bank after it's been jammed with the birthday gifts of $5, $10, $20 and $50 dollar bills? Ever try to put one of those bills into a piggy bank's little slot?

Piggy banks teach disrespect for large sums of money, and for the currency in general. Piggy banks teach children to just crumple money into a little ball and shove it in. As good parents, we teach kids to make their bed, fold and hang their clothes neatly, keep their homework organized, but, when it comes to money, the piggy bank teaches kids to just crumple their money and shove it in.

So, then, why do we train up our children to deal with money in a manner that is destined to fail for them when they try use it as adults?

The answer is simple - because that's what we were taught as children, and that's what is marketed to us. We do have choices. One of our choices is to do something different, and thus, to teach something different about money to our children.

We can choose to set up banks for our children that teach:

1. Separating money into compartments for different uses

2. Investing - so that your money makes money for you

3. Donating - so that your money can help others improve their lives

4. Spending - in an amount that fits within a budget and a plan

5. Saving for Big-Ticket Items - so that large expenses are planned for, rather than a surprise

6. Taking care of the physical money well - with a neat (and fun) place for coins and bills

7. Counting money regularly to mark progress toward goals, and to make decision making easier

8. The concept of Return On Investment (ROI) - which even many adults don't yet know

9. Compound Interest - which many adults know, but don't yet full understand

10. Wealth Habit Muscles - if a child regularly works with a 4-part wealth-building bank (instead of a piggy bank) when he/she is young, then he/she will have a strong wealth-building muscle when he/she becomes an adult (instead of the debt and rat-race muscle that is so prevalent today)

Piggy Banks - cute small silent insidious programming devices with huge negative debt-ridden consequences. Your mission as a parent is to disable the device and replace it with a tool that builds wealth and character. Now you are armed with insightful information that enables you to take the action you need to raise wealthy kids - even if you're not wealthy (yet)!

(c) Copyright Theresa A. Markham, Esq.
About the Author
Theresa A. Markham, Esq. is the author of The Kids' Bank Book: How to Teach Wise Money Management to Your Children with Fun, Ease, Smiles and Laughter, and offers the Book and other info about raising wealthy kids at www.KidsBankBook.com. She donates 10% of The Kids' Bank Book net profits to Champ House.
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