These Little Piggies Save at Home

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Every opportunity I get, I try to teach my children some money lessons.

In my household, most requests for toys, video games or trips to a fast-food restaurant are met with two words: College Fund.

You may not realize it, but your children do watch, listen and internalize what you say and do about money. For example, my 8-year-old son was ordering from the kids' menu and couldn't decide between a hamburger and a cheeseburger when we were having brunch one day after church. When I asked him why he was taking so long to decide, he said, "Mommy, the cheeseburger costs 20 cents more than the hamburger, and we need that money for my college fund."

I put my right hand across my heart. I was so proud. I let him have the cheeseburger.

"I think this time we can splurge and your college fund will be okay, honey," I said.

If you don't know how to start teaching your children about money, let me help because April has been designated Financial Literacy Month. So for the Color of Money Book Club, I've selected a number of products and books to help you teach the children in your life about money.

I'll start with piggy banks. The first one I suggest is sold by Moonjar ( or 888-323-0001). Created by Eulalie M. Scandiuzzi, a Seattle native, this is a simple piggy bank, divided into three boxes, that shows children how to share, save and spend their money. The bank costs $6.95 and comes with a cute, little passbook for the child to track his transactions. If you want something more durable, you can get a tin bank for $24.95. Also from Moonjar is "Conversations to Go: The Game that Questions Money" ($12.95). In a box that looks like Chinese takeout, you get 100 small cardboard strips designed to provoke conversations with your kids. Shake the box, and pull out questions such as "Does money buy happiness?" or "What is delayed gratification?"

The ceramic Money Mama Piggy Bank ($29.95) is available at (or call 866-PIGGY4U). This piggy bank -- mama piggy and three piglets -- has four slots in which children are encouraged to divide their money four ways: 10 percent for charity, 10 percent for investing, 10 percent toward savings and 70 percent for everyday expenses. There is a colorful, 48-page companion storybook to go with the bank, "Money Mama & The Three Little Pigs," both created by California native Lori Mackey. The book ($19.95) includes a bonus read-along CD. The book, CD and piggy bank cost $47.90 as a package.

Mackey has an allowance chart in which she recommends you figure out how much you spend each month on the things your child wants, then make them do chores to earn that money. I wouldn't put my kids on a family payroll. However, if you insist your children work for their allowance, this chart provides a fun and interactive way to connect chores to their pay.

New from Susan Beacham, an entrepreneur who promotes financial literacy, is "Money Savvy Kids @ Home." This $29.99 package, designed for children ages 6 to 11, includes:

ยท Money Savvy Pig piggy bank. The bank has four chambers labeled save, spend, donate and invest. Purchased alone, the bank costs $15.99.

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