20 worthless pieces of junk: #5 -- The piggy bank

Not all piggy banks are bad, but the old-fashioned kind with one slot for putting in coins have had their day. "Think about it – what does a one-slot piggy bank ask a child to do? Save? I don't think so," says Susan Beacham, founder and CEO of Money Savvy Generation, a company set up to teach financial education to children. "Nowhere on a one-slot bank is the word 'save'. Ah, you say, it is implied. Really? Ask a child the next time he or she places a newly acquired coin in the slot why they are making that deposit. Get ready for a blank stare."

Give a kid a one-slot piggy bank and they may actually save when you ask, but Beacham's theory is that they aren't actually aware of what they are doing when they are putting money into that slot. And they have no concept why they are doing it or what they are saving for. The money goes in the slot and you get a blank stare.

"Truth is, most kids don't have the slightest idea of what they are doing when they are placing coins in the one-slot of a traditional piggy bank," says Beacham. "Money is generally too abstract a concept for most kids. To help kids learn about money, you have to make the abstract concrete. And while a one-slot piggy bank is a good start – it is just not enough to really teach a child about the choices they have for money."

She continues, "Kids need to be reminded that there is more to do with money than just spend. Literally reminded each and every time they have money that they can save some, spend some, donate some and invest some. For that, you need a whole new kind of piggy bank."

So what should you get kids to better teach them to prioritize their spending and saving? One suggestion is the Money Savvy Pig, a four-chambered piggy-bank with four slots and four tummies each labeled with a choice the child has for money, reminds a child, in a very concrete way, that there is more to do with money than just "spend".

"So, move over traditional icon, your one-slot option is so yesterday," says Beacham.

Susan Beacham is the chief executive and founder of Money Savvy Generation, a financial education company that provides innovative products and services to help parents and educators teach children the basic skills of personal finance, MoneySavvyGeneration.com. See her blog at www.susanbeacham.com
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