Teaching children how to save money every month, and why it’s important to do so, can be difficult for many parents, especially those dealing with money issues themselves. Ultimately, your children are likely to mirror your actions and habits when it comes to money management, and this could be either a good thing or your worst nightmare, depending on your financial philosophy. Teaching smart saving and spending habits to your children at an early age can drastically improve their chances of becoming financially savvy adults.
Some people believe using a piggy bank is an outdated way of saving money – however, for children, they’re still excellent teaching tools. As adults, we know that the $20 saved by sticking coins into an old bottle isn’t going to pay the mortgage or provide a vacation fund. But to kids, that money is the ticket to purchasing the toys they’ve been dreaming of or spending an afternoon at the movies with friends.
Children are visual learners, and utilizing a piggy bank is a perfect way to show them (rather than tell them) how money accumulates over time. Young children can’t fully grasp what money is and how it works by merely looking at numbers, but cold, hard cash is another story.
How to Make Your Own Piggy Bank
Take an hour or so out of a rainy day and encourage your children to participate in activities that can educate them about saving money. Many children love the idea of a piggy bank, and you can either make or decorate one together. You could even go “hog wild” and have a few different piggy banks that your children can use for varied savings goals. For example, you could have one bank for savings, one bank for charity, and another for spending. The best part is you won’t have to spend a penny to create the piggy banks, since you likely have all the items needed to create it in your home.
Since children often have issues with impulse control, it may be a good idea to create piggy banks that are inaccessible until filled. If your children can access the money in their bank at any time, it may be too tempting for them to retrieve it whenever they want. Hopefully, after the first bank is filled, they will be satisfied by successfully reaching a long-term savings.
Great Things to Use as Piggy Banks
1. Oatmeal Containers
An old-fashioned container of oatmeal can make for a great, shatter-proof piggy bank. Cut a small hole in the lid and, again, tape the lid to the container. This is a big one, so it’s going to be a while before your kids get to open it – but when they do, they’ll be swimming in savings.
For a little extra fun, tape the word “Bank” over “Oats” (if you’re using the Quaker Oats brand, for example) and your kids are sure to get a kick out of investing in “Quaker Bank,” with the friendly gray-haired Quaker Man at their service.
2. Soda Bottles
While 16-ounce and two-liter bottles have that tiny cap that no coin can fit through, one-liter bottles work perfectly, as they have large caps that easily allow coins to fall through. Be sure to glue the cap on tight.
Don’t throw out that spaghetti sauce jar when you’re done cooking – it can make an ideal piggy bank. Simply remove the label and cut a small hole in the lid. Next, decorate a label-sized piece of paper and tape it onto the exterior of the jar. Tape the lid shut to discourage prying hands from attempting to open the jar before it is full.
You can also use a trusty mason jar. Unlike a spaghetti sauce jar, the glass on a mason jar is likely to be thicker and more ornate. For larger savings goals, use a half-gallon or gallon-sized jar.
4. Large Yogurt Containers
While the small yogurt cups with aluminum peel-off lids won’t work, the pint-sized (or larger) tubs make the ideal piggy bank. If your children are very young – as with an oatmeal container – there’s no danger of broken glass when the time comes to access their money.
5. Bleach Bottles/Milk Cartons
Bleach bottles make great piggy banks since they already have childproof lids – and they can hold a lot of money. Milk jugs, on the other hand, may be a bit more flimsy, thus leaving the money easily accessible. However, they are transparent, and your children may enjoy watching the money collect over time. With either container, make certain you wash it thoroughly – bleach is toxic if consumed, and a few drops of excess milk could give new meaning to the term “dirty money.”
6. Coffee Tins
Used coffee tins can make great piggy banks too. Treat them like the many receptacles above, but if your lid is plastic – as it would be for a Trader Joe’s brand coffee, for example – try cutting several slits of varying sizes. Then, note the denomination that each slit represents: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills. This won’t make for any actual separation of denominations in the bank itself, but it adds an extra level of thought to your children’s experience – and that’s never a bad thing.
You may not be the crafty type who does a lot of DIY projects, and it may sound much easier to go out and buy a piggy bank to teach your kids about money management. However, it can teach your child another valuable lesson when you use items you already have lying around the house. Frugality is a big part of saving, and this is an easy opportunity to teach it.
What other items make good piggy banks? Do you have any other tips to help teach children the importance of saving money?