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Teaching kids the power of the piggy bank

It's a good idea to help kids develop saving habits early on, the American Bankers Association says. Philip Brewer/Flickr

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Today is “Teach Children to Save Day,” an unofficial holiday sponsored by, yes, the American Bankers Association. With interest rates so low for so long, savings haven’t been a big priority. The personal savings rate has been hovering around 5 percent for three years. So it seems hard for any of us, kids or adults, to save.  

Some consumers are like sharks, constantly circling banks on the hunt for an interest-bearing account that offers an extra fraction of a percent. 

“I have more than one,” said Abby Lamb, a fourth-grader from New Jersey.  Lamb isn’t talking about a big bank. She’s talking about her piggy banks. At age 10, she pulls her savings from her allowance. 

Even on her low income, she gets that saving is important. 

“Because if you use all your money now, then you won’t have anything to use in the future and that might be when you’re in your deepest need.”

One reason adults don’t save enough is that they underestimate the value of compound interest, said Gopi Shah Goda, a researcher with the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Another, she said, is a phenomenon called present bias. Also known as procrastinating.

Then there’s impatience. 

“Sometimes we’re so anxious to get things right away, that some people might not think about the balance of their bank account or anything like that,” said 10-year-old fifth-grader Eliot Firch, who broke away from a busy day at summer camp to field a call from a reporter. 


“There is a lot of debate about whether people are saving adequately or not,” Goda said. 

Abby Lamb has no idea whether Americans are stashing enough away. “I don’t really know,” she said. But she will be prepared for the future —  as long as she keeps taking out the recycling and does all her chores.    

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