Aug 3, 2009

Saving Money - Just for the Fun of It

When I was about 7 years old, my Mom bought a yellow piggy bank to save spare coins in. There was no way to get inside the little piggy except to break it open.

I was intrigued when I would watch my Mom put coins - similar coins we would earn when doing random chores around the house - into the little piggy.

Somehow, it just seemed... I don't know, fun... yeah fun.

So I asked one day if I could start putting my coins into the yellow piggy bank. HER piggy bank. She reminded me each time that the bank wasn't mine, and that anything I put into it belonged to the little piggy - not me. I would have no say-so in where or how or if the money would ever be spent.

I agreed to these wonderful terms. I couldn't wait to start earning money so I could watch it go into the little piggy.

Looking back, I have no idea why the idea of putting money in that little yellow piggy bank was so much fun. I didn't own it. I had no control over it. But I enjoyed watching it get heavier and heavier. It represented work, sacrifice, and it somehow meant something to me, even as a small kid.

I believe, for several years when I was a kid, I saved every penny into that little yellow piggy bank. Not a very good investment, to be sure. But I did learn to appreciate work, sacrifice, and saving a bit more.

I enjoyed working on my chores more. I enjoyed hearing the sound of the coins as they piled up inside the bank. I valued those coins. And I would show I appreciated and valued those coins by putting them in a safe, never to be touched place.

I'm happy to see that the national savings rate of the U.S. has gone up a bit in the wake of the most recent financial crisis. But while it lingers around 1-3%, in any given quarter, I'm still in awe at how much other nations value their work, their earnings, and their money.

The average Chinese citizen saves about 50% of their income. 50 percent! And we wonder why the U.S. is scheduled to loose its 150 year domination as the world power to China.

America's solution? Encourage the Chinese to spend more money. Ha.

Imagine that. Our solution is to encourage a nation that holds one-fifth the world's population to consume more - in a world of limited resources like oil. Not the right solution people.

Better solution - learn from the Chinese, and begin saving.

The little yellow piggy bank can help each of us learn to appreciate what we have more, rather than always looking for the next best thing.

Saving, not for a rainy day, nor to spend it on some big item later on, can actually be fun.

Try it sometime.

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