The Piggy Bank: A Secret to Simple Saving

by Thursday Bram on 29 December 2008 29 comments

When I was a sophomore in college, my dad gave me a piggy bank for Hanukkah. I couldn't figure it out at first — had my dad forgotten that I was all grown up and didn't need a piggy bank for my pennies anymore? It was an adorable little pig, though and I put it on my desk as a decoration. Pretty soon, the pig was full. I wasn't sure how it happened, really, but who was I to turn down the $20 I had in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters? I took it with me to the bank and deposited my change — I wasn't about to roll all that change myself.

The piggy bank went back on my desk and I started paying attention to what I was doing with my spare change. I had developed a habit of dumping all my change in the piggy bank as I was emptying my pockets on my desk at the end of the day. Before I had just been setting down piles of change — and I'm not really sure that I ever saw any of that loose change again.

The Piggy Bank as a Focus Point

My piggy bank, just by sitting somewhere that I saw it every day, helped me realize just what I was doing with my money. It's easy to lose track of pocket change — it's just a few cents, after all. But those pennies and dimes add up fast. Even with my college habit of pulling quarters of my bank to do laundry, I could fill my piggy bank in a month.

The Piggy Bank as a Saving Tool

If I had just treated my piggy bank's contents as found money, I could have had a fun evening once a month. But I was able to think about it as a saving tool — it was money that I would have lost if I wasn't putting it in the pig, and I worked hard to remember that fact. That money went straight into my savings account. It came in handy, too: the clunker I drove died on me one day and without my savings, I'm not really sure that I would have been able to get my car fixed.

The Piggy Bank for Grown Ups

I've come to the conclusion that my dad was right — a person's never too old for a piggy bank. It doesn't need a snout or a curly tail, but having a place that you can put spare change can be a very effective savings tool. I still keep my piggy handy and it gets all of my spare change. It may not fill up as fast — I rely on my debit card for most purchases — but that makes it even more important that I have a place to put my pennies before I lose them. Even a few cents can be important to a budget when you put them all together. My spare change has saved my bacon: has it saved yours?

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Guest's picture
C.

Great post! In the past three months I have paid for two emergency pet vet visits with $10s & $20s we keep hidden in our wedding ring boxes. And, we already started to replinish the fund with left over cash from staying under budget for Christmas. We don't often talk about "starting habits" in the New Year, but given our tough economic times, this is a great ritual for everyone to consider. Enjoy the day - C.

Guest's picture
Craig

I think everyone should keep spare change. I collected spare change for about an 8 month period an ended up with over $100 in spare change. Amazing! What a huge boost of extra spending cash when you finally cash. Now I need the quarters for laundry, but still the same practice stands.

Guest's picture

I have a cute piggy bank, but there's no easy way to get the change out without breaking it. So we put our change into a big bowl. We use a credit card for most purchases (fully paid off every month!), so like you, we don't accumulate change very fast.

And even when we do have a pile of change, we don't cash it in very often. See, a common extended-family activity is nickel-dime-quarter poker games. So yes, I save my change for gambling. But if I lose, the money goes to family. And I've never lost more than $5 in one night. Believe me, the evening's entertainment value is well worth $5. More often the game converts my loose change into paper money winnings, which then just go into my wallet.

The pennies sure are piling up though.

Guest's picture
Bill M

my daughter has a piggy bank that she uses to collect all the change around the house. it is very fun, it has accumulated over $500 in the past two years.

Guest's picture
Dez

In Canada, we no longer have one and two dollar bills- we have coins called loonies and two-nies. So spare change adds up to some serious cash up here. I try to stash all my coin and have sometimes taken up to $400 in coin in at once.

Guest's picture
Guest

Helpful post. Now, I have an idea for my family. We will collect spare change in our personal piggy banks throughout the year, then make a deposit before the new year. Thanks for the post!

Guest's picture
Mercedes

My hubby and I use a 5-gallon water jug to save all our spare change, and it makes a real difference. I've been laid off and the jar just yielded a month's mortgage ($1500). Two years ago, we dumped the jar to contribute to the down payment on a new house; five years before that, we dumped the jar to have the roof replaced on our old home. Saving in the jar is the best thing we ever did because you never feel it; you just break dollar bills and dump the change in the jar at the end of the day. After a while, you won't want to spend the change at all. Good luck and happy saving.

Guest's picture
Guest

When I enter my debit card purchases into my checkbook register, I round up to the nearest dollar in my entries. It makes it a big easier to keep it balanced, and sometimes I retain 40 dollars a month or more...saved my butt on gas to get to work and a pizza for lunch for a couple of days more than a few times.

Guest's picture

What you can do further with these spare change in your piggy bank is to have another bank account for it. Bank in all the money everytime your piggy bank fills up instead of spending it. When the money grows into a sizeable amount, use it to invest.

Guest's picture

What you can do further with these spare change in your piggy bank is to have another bank account for it. Bank in all the money everytime your piggy bank fills up instead of spending it. When the money grows into a sizeable amount, use it to invest.

Guest's picture
Barbara

my dad and I used to roll his spare change together when I was a kid. It was so great because it's one of my memories of something that was "our" activity together.

Today it's kind of a pain, but it beats losing almost 10% of it to CoinStar. I've heard that some banks will roll or count it for you, but I can't seem to find one in my area. So not long ago I convinced my boyfriend to sit down and help me roll them. He ended up having fun, and was surprised at how much change I had collected that he's started his own change jar now too!

Guest's picture
Olivia

Commerce Bank has Coinstar machines that do the adding for you. You don't have to have an account with them. It prints out a paper receipt that you take to a teller. We happen to bank with them so they just deposit it into our account, but I've seen others opt for paper money in hand.

Guest's picture
Amy

When I moved into on-campus apartments at MSU, they had a ton of free coin jars with a plastic lid that had a slot in it for change. I should have grabbed more than one (they were really trying to give them away).

I originally used it for quarters only, the jar had a nice handle which made it easy to grab and take to the laundry. I gradually started to add loose coins that I'd find in my pants pockets while doing laundry.

Eventually, I no longer needed quarters so it has become an all purpose coin jar. I hate carrying lots of change in my wallet, so once in a while I'll move some into the jar. An added bonus is that now my fiance puts his change in the jar instead of on my table :)

Once it gets full I will take it to the bank and start over. A few extra dollars can mean a few extra cents in interest and padding for our emergency fund.

Guest's picture
Kirsten

I recently purchased a coin counting jar (on sale at CVS). Its amazing how obsessed I've become at emptying my pockets and purse at the end of the day. Seeing the coins add up is much more engaging than just guessing how much might be in the coin jar.

I've also read that its a good idea to take the smallest bills out of your wallet at the end of each day and stash them as well. Not so much as a way to pad your piggy bank, but as a preventative method to hitting the ATM everytime you need a dollar or two (in my case to pay for parking). If I take out $20 I'll spend the whole $20, so keeping extra singles around the house helps me stay on budget.

Guest's picture
elisabeth

at our house we keep separate jars, and have a friendly competition to see who has more when we turn it in on New Year's Eve day (our banks are quite happy to count change for a deposit). I also keep a separate bank full of just "street money," that is the change I find when walking around. In the last few years it has ranged from a low of just under $2.00 to over $7.00. That's not much compared to folks who live in real cities -- I've read about a guy in new york who found hundreds each year, which he always donated to charity.

Guest's picture
Bettie

Hubby and I have been doing this since we bought our home 18 years ago. Prior to that we were in an apt. so most went towards laundry. We have an old mason jar that when full holds $200. We usually fill this at least 4 times a year. I know we should put it in the bank, but this is our do what we want with money. I have my jar every August for our State Fair, he has a Canandian fishing trip him and his buds take every June. We can spoil ourselves and not feel guilty. Actually used the last 1.5 jars for a new snowblower this winter.Doesnt hurt the checkbook.

Our nephew got married last year. Told them about the change jar now that they dont have to use change for laundry. In Nov. their dryer died. Hit the change jar and didnt even have to touch their checkbook. They were so shocked. They have an awesome one year old baby boy who hubby and I are Grandparents to, so we got him a piggy bank, course we had to fill it up some!!! They are going to start him with this concept, any change left from a dollar bill goes in the piggy bank. It has to be the most painless way to save!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest's picture
Meg

I got a really neat bronze shiny metallic piggy bank from Urban Outfitters last year. It has recently filled up, and I counted out over $50 in there. I love the piggy bank - what else am I going to do with all my change? I also saw a couple of cute ones at Target recently...

Maggie Wells's picture

And right before trips to the city we bust it open and use that often $30-50 in quarters to pay for bridge tolls, parking, and coffee....makes those type of travel expenses painless. If there's anything left we return it to the kitty bank when we get back for the next trip. My kids have tiny piggybanks that they use for their 'ice cream ' funding.

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
KelR1

I actually have several. I guess I'm a sort of amateur "collector" of them. I use one for all my found money, like someone else said above. Any time I find any change or bills on the ground it goes into the piggy bank. Last year I ended up with $167.19! I love bringing in all that change to the bank on January 1 and seeing how much I've found all year. Then I deposit it into a savings account and start all over.

Guest's picture
Guest

Great article! Our credit union gives out small piggy banks when you open a savings account for your child. They also have a coin counting machine in the lobby, and if you belong to the credit union, it counts your money for free. If you don't, it takes 5 percent of the money. I just emptied the pig and after 4 months of change it yielded $65. The $ went in the savings account and now we start again!

Guest's picture
Amy

ScotiaBank (here in Canada) as a program available for their debit users called "Bank the Rest". You set up a chequing and savings account with them, tell them what dollar amount to round up to, $1 or $5 (or something like that) and each time you use your debit card, they automatically move the rounded amount to your savings account.

Example: You have yours setup to round to the nearest $5. You spend $6.06 getting your lunch, and $3.96 goes into your savings. If you had it set to round to the nearest dollar, $0.96 would go into your savings.

It's like dumping the 'coins' at the end of the day but with interest.

Makes me almost want to switch back to them :D

Guest's picture
Guest

haha, when i read this title i thought it was going to be about saving your change. But great article couldnt agree more
Finance Trail

Guest's picture

Every year, my kids and I count the change in our banks and jars on New Years day. We wrap it for deposit and it can take a good portion of the day when you are doing three banks. It is a fun way to spend the day!

Guest's picture
Paula Hoevenaar

My family has the same concept but it is an old plastic cup we purchased a drink from when we were in Florida. My husband is the biggest contributor, he empties his pockets on the dresser and I put this in the change cup. I put the loose change from my purse and now that that we have a college student still living at home and an eleven year old, they to contribute to the cup even if they don't always realize it. All in all when the cup fills up there is always at least $40 to $50 dollars depending on the amount of quarters. It is a simple pleasure for me to "cash it in" and report the amount. We have spent the cash on extras and there have been times when it has been used for an unexpected cost of just living. Its a game for us because we bet on the amount each time.

Guest's picture
Pierre Lourens

About a year ago, I decided to wash out the salsa jar when we were finished with it. Instead of stuffing it into the recycling bin, where it may or may not be correctly recycled, I washed it out and let it dry. After peeling off the labels, I had the perfect change jar.

Earlier this month, I decided to empty and count it. I had a total of around $60! Not bad for just emptying my pockets throughout one year!!

Guest's picture

We bankrolled our Christmas spending from our change drawer this year. In past years, when money hasn't been so tight, I've collected coins in a tin bank (the kind that originally came as a candy gift) and donated it at the end of the year. It teaches the kids not to leave change lying around, and it teaches them to give back.

Guest's picture
TC

When I empty my purse every week (or so) of the accumulated change, I put half of it into my piggy bank (which is actually an old pickle jar with a crocheted 'hat' on top) and the other hald into our tzedakah box. (Tzedakah is a Hebrew word that roughly translates to charity.) I use the piggy-bank money to buy grocery 'luxury' items I wouldn't otherwise buy (like a really good bottle of EVOO), and the tzedakah money gets donated once a year at our synagogue's Mitzvah Day. Times are tough around here, but in this way, I'm able to make a pretty generous donation to charity at least once a year, with (relatively) no skin off my nose!

Guest's picture
guill

My wife is the ultimate piggy bank feeder, I mean we have pigs, cows, frogs, nekko cats, huge glass jars about 2 feet high a foot wide full of coins. She puts coins in anything that has a cover.
She saved so much we had enough for a down payment on our first home in Hawaii. So that is why I'm proud to say she is the piggy bank concept saving queen.

Guest's picture
Guest CECELIA

I HAVE ALWAYS KEPT A PIGGY BANK FOR SPARE CHANGE AND IT IS AMAZING HOW SOON IT FILLS UP IN OUR HOUSE. WHEN WE NEED A EXTRA 10 OR 20 ITS TIME TO RAID THE PIGGY BANK. I WILL BE GIVING PIGGY BANKS TO TWO LADIES WHO I WORK WITH AT THEIR BABY SHOWER.