This past weekend I was in New Orleans enjoying the FinCon conference. This conference is a gathering of financial bloggers, planners, and media companies who all have the same goal. Talk about money! It was a productive conference to say the least, but the best lesson came when I got back home. If you have never been to a conference, then you should know there are usually free gifts (swag). You can usually get some cool stuff depending on the booth you go to. I picked up some nice things, but most of them were for my young son. He is not even two yet, but getting there. Who wouldn’t love a bunch of trinkets more than a toddler?
When walking about the expo hall, I noticed a piggy bank. It was plastic and small enough to fit in my carry on. I picked one up in hopes to give it to my son. He already has a piggy bank, but it is really nice and metal. Since he likes to throw things, a plastic one is better for him to learn with. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want a metal piggy bank going through my wall.
When we got home on Sunday, I unpacked my bag and gave him a few of the free gifts. He wasn’t impressed by any of them, except for the piggy bank. It feels good as a financial blogger when my son smiles seeing a piggy bank. I know he doesn’t understand what it really is, but we can all have dreams. Hopefully he wasn’t smiling and saying “Oh, MONEY!!!”
Watching My Son Interact with a Piggy Bank
What fun is an empty piggy bank? I mean really? Who would want a plastic bank with nothing in it? I know I don’t. When I gave it to him at first, he smiled and picked it up. Then we wondered what it was for. I had some change in my pocket, so I put it on the floor. He has never messed with coins, so this was an all around experience for him. I showed him how to put the coins through the slot and he tried to imitate. It took some time to understand the point of this exercise, but he got it. It was fun to watch him put the money in the bank. While it was fun, it also showed me a few important lessons.
Saving Money Can Be SLOW!
I can see now why so many people give up on saving money. It is a slow process. When you don’t see your money growing, you might give up. My son would get frustrated when he couldn’t get the money in the bank. He would then get mad when he struggled to put more than one coin in at a time. He obviously didn’t see the reward of putting the money inside the piggy bank and he wanted to do it faster.
He had more fun and laughed when he could just put the coins through the bottom of the bank. I would take off the cap and let him play with it. Putting money in faster kept him more engaged. I can see this in real life. We all love to put a lot of money into savings. It feels better and makes us keep going. It is motivating seeing that money grow much faster. Who doesn’t want to save more money? I know I do.
Key Lesson: While saving money can be slow, figure out ways to make a game of it. Try to learn new ways to save and create savings milestones. Don’t get discouraged when you can’t save as much as you want.
It’s More Fun Taking Money Out
I might have to work on this part, because my son is showing some signs of consumerism! Just kidding, he is not even two years old. I will let him play this little game for a little longer, then teach him what this really means. Anyway, after he would put the money in the bank, he wanted to get it right back out. He tried to shake the bank to get the money to fall out of the slot, but that is hard to do. He would hand me the bank and ask me to open the cap on the bottom. I would hand him the bank and he would pour the money on top of himself. He was like Scrooge McDuck throwing money all over himself. After I got that image out of my head and realizing we didn’t have a pool full of coins, I realized he was having more fun taking the money out and playing with it.
Think of it for a minute. Who doesn’t like spending money on things? Yes, I know many of us personal finance bloggers love saving money, but there are times we like spending it too. Everyone does. Our culture is built on spending. Most Americans don’t save money and I have shown that before. There are temptations all around us to spend money, but very little incentive to save. The average big bank savings account rate is around 0.10%. That is $0.10 for every $100 saved. Ouch!
Key Lesson: While it is always fun to spend our money, make sure you are still saving enough. We all have many goals for our money, but most of us want to retire and travel. Saving money is imperative to reaching those goals. Yes, I understand the YOLO concept, but don’t catch yourself saving “Damn YOLO, now I have no money to retire on!” That would sting years down the road.
My son showed me even early on you have more excitement taking the money out of the piggy bank. Maybe this is why piggy banks aren’t as popular. It only takes one good whack with a hammer to enjoy your riches. Temptation can be great and our instant gratification can be appeased quickly with our savings. Many of us, including myself, sometimes let consumerism get the best of our intentions. Hopefully we can continue holding onto today’s dollar to enable to to use that dollar when we really need to. Saving money is awesome and I love it, but there too many with little to no savings. Let’s hope my son will evolve to love the idea of keeping those coins in the bank and not opening it up when he wants a good laugh!
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