Life Musings

The money-box inspired my passion for finance

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The money-box I had as a child is a memory that has inspired my love for finance which has continued to broaden as I get older.

My post today is for financial literacy awareness hosted by The Heavy Purse blog.

I’m participating with many other bloggers around the world sharing their Ah ha moment when it came to money at some point in their life.

I was asked to remember my first Ah ha moment in my life when financial sense struck me. For me the money-box was key.

Growing up in the UK for most of my life may differ from life in North America but saving money is universal.

After looking back and remembering things from an early age, I can say without doubt that I’ve been careful with my money for a long time.

The money-box

Even as a young child of roughly six, we got given pocket-money and mine went in the money-box I had. It was nothing special, just a standard looking cube with a coin slit in the top and a stopper in the bottom to get the money out.

I was never happy spending it on things at the drop of a hat. I had to save it, although I have absolutely no idea what I was saving for. We weren’t rich by any means. My mother was a stay at home mum and my father worked all week as a contractor.

Back in the 1980’s life never seemed to run at the same pace it does these days and there just wasn’t the sheer diversity of children’s toys as there is today. It was harder to spend your money on rubbish in those days. Most of our fun was made up with the other kids on our street.
As I grew up it didn’t take long to realise that if I did jobs for people like washing cars and mowing lawns that I could save even more. I never had much desire to have the latest toys either so most of my cash sat in the money-box.

Piggy banks


Pigs piggy banks
One day while walking through town with my mother I was drawn towards a window advertisement in the local Natwest (National Westminster) Bank. There was a young savers account that allowed the account holder to be rewarded for every milestone they reached.
The incentives were a collection of Natwest Piggy Banks which were a variation on the money-box where every £25 saved got you the next Pig in the family.

You opened the account with a minimum balance and got the first (baby) pig and then it was up to you to keep saving for the rest.

I realized with my first Ah ha moment that saving is rewarding. It wasn’t long before I hit the £100 mark and had received the entire family of pigs.
Much to my amazement, when the scheme came to an end, the value of the complete family shot up. Years later I sold my pig collection for more than double what I had saved for.
I don’t remember any other bank running a children’s bank account anything remotely like this since.

That’s a shame, but it seems that the money-box idea has come full circle. Natwest have now decided to re-issue the young savers account but with “Pigby” to encourage a new generation of money savvy youngsters.
The money that I had put away to collect the pigs was eventually moved to a Post Office account at around the age of eleven where I got 10% interest in those days. I would pay in birthday money along with what I had earned.

The interest

Watching the money going up without actually putting more in amazed me. This is probably my second Ah ha moment. Interest was interesting. After asking my parents multiple questions on the basics of money I had worked out that my money needed to be moved and soon.
Moving my money to another account gave me full access and control over my finances. Looking back now it was a very small amount, but it seemed like a lot then.
The account was held with Halifax Building Society which was different from a standard bank but for reasons that currently elude me. The best of it was, when Halifax converted to a standard bank years after, I received a payout from holding money with them over that period.
All the experiences I had from a young age all centered around saving your money and watching it grow. From the lessons learned and the questions I asked I have kept the same principles running till this very day.

It was all of these money lessons starting with the money-box that allowed me to purchase my first home at age 21 and my second just a few years later.


Debt-free under 40


Now I’m married and we are both under the age of 40, debt free including the mortgage. My wife has grown to love finance as much as I have since she was young which helped us to get ahead all these years.

Money isn’t everything that is correct but you need money to live so saving money and spending it where it needed to get spent helped us get from money-box to the Canadian Budget Binder budget spreadsheet. Without our budget we can easily say that we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Saving and waiting to buy something you really wanted has been replaced by buy now and pay later. The anticipation from waiting was all part of the run up to buying it. Once you had bought it, you looked after it.

I’m not even what you would consider old but I still have values that are old school which I don’t think is a bad thing these days. One day when we have a child I’ll teach him/her about finance and maybe a money-box will be the beginning of the financial journey to debt freedom like it has been for us.

What can you say was your Ah ha moment when it comes to finance?


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  1. I love this story Mr. CBB! I had a savings account as a kid that the local bank sponsored in the school. Each week we brought our money in a special envelope to school on a certain day to deposit it in the bank. My parents made us put half of our small allowance in the savings account. We were not allowed to take money out until high school and then for a “good reason.” The good reason turned out to be money to go to camp one summer and a dress for prom another year. I made money babysitting and even selling our apples door to door some years. Once i turned 16 I could work at a real job. No matter the source, half of all income went into the account. When I started college, I was able to draw it all out for spending money at college. I can’t say I loved this system as much as you did, but it worked well. And we had to give 10% to the church, so we ended up being able to spend just 40% of what we earned. i wish I could say I spent it wisely, but girls do like to buy clothes now and then! Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  2. That was some wicked amazing interest back in the day! The lessons of saving an interest are great ones to learn at an early age. Our daughter already has a Roth IRA and college savings plan and I hope to show her the power of time and compound interest, although it’s all over her head at the moment. She does still have a piggy bank and is a great saver for age 7, much better than I ever was at that age.

  3. Loved this!!!!! When the kids were quite young they had bank accounts but my name was on the accounts too and they needed my signature to take anything out for the first while. Once they were older that requirement was removed. The older boy tends to be impulsive so it worked really well with him. Our daughter and younger boy didn’t really need my oversight so much but got it and lived with it. Once they were working the money was theirs. The older boy is still impulsive but the other two do better. The younger boy doesn’t part with his easily….Lol!!!

  4. I love the piggy bank story! So cute! I would have wanted to collect that whole set too. And it’s really cool that piggy banks actually became valuable too. My parents started a savings account for me when I was a toddler and money we received for birthdays and Christmas automatically went into our accounts. The only thing my parents didn’t do was explain how I was earning interest, which is a brilliant idea. I was actually a bit annoyed that my money had to go to the bank. I understand why my parents did it but I wonder if I would have wanted to save more if I saw that I was actually earning money too … for doing nothing! I mean you can’t beat that, right?

  5. Your line about “interest was interesting” is a great line! I’m just starting with investing, and I agree with that notion and at times regret I didn’t invest sooner (though I still have trouble with investing more, so I’ll have to keep that line in mind). I admire your discipline to have always been a saver, especially with being able to have no debt and no mortgage. Thanks for sharing your story Mr. CBB – even if banks don’t implement the piggy bank strategy, I think that’s a good tactic for once we hopefully start to have kids!

  6. “saving is rewarding” — how I wish more and more people realized this. So many people today consider it to be a burden and another hurdle to them spending on whatever they want. Saving IS rewarding and interest IS interesting and in the long run, they actually help you buy the things you truly want and live the life you dream about. Love the piggy bank story and what a fantastic idea to encourage children to save. Unfortunately banks don’t push children’s savings accounts because they are often such small amounts. It’s a shame. And 10% interest on a savings account – sign me up, please! Maybe we will see that again some day. 🙂 Thank you so much for participating, Mr. CBB. I appreciate it!

  7. Great story! Looking back, I find that I was better with money when I was a child as well. You are right about being a kid in the 80’s; we were always out playing with friends and not going to the store all the time and getting enticed by the latest piece of junk. There’s something to be said for that time 🙂

  8. How funny. I sometimes wonder what happened to the humble piggy bank. It’s so simple yet such an easy way to teach kids a little bit of self-denial and a little bit of personal finance. As it happens, I’ve still got a few that I fill up 🙂

  9. Ha! Interesting idea for a bank. My parents opened up a bank account for me when I was quite young and wasn’t allowed to make any withdrawals until I was 18, which had me a little reluctant to put much money there, so most of it went into a little money jar instead. But I wish I had now. Ah, if I only knew then, what I know now, right? Well I know it’ll be a lot different with my kids. But big congrats on paying off the mortgage and becoming completely debt free! That’s amazing!

  10. Yes, we definitely have a very similar story about getting interested in saving while growing up. I didn’t have a money box, more like a money bag…but I did like saving and seeing the interest accumulate in the savings account. I hope more banks have programs to reward kids for saving, it’s a great financial lesson. And I hope the interest rates go up (well from a savings perspective, but not mortgage rates since I’d like to buy a place)…it’s hard for kids to get too excited when there seems to be a disincentive to save with those low rates.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story Mr. CBB! Oh how I wish banks were still paying that well today. 🙂 It was much easier back then to see how your money was making more when put in savings, though that just means you have to be creative. That said, my moment was seeing how I was digging myself a hole that I felt like I couldn’t get out of and action was needed.

  12. I LOVE the piggy bank story, and agree with you, I wish there was more of a focus on children’s savings accounts these days. I plan to start my 8 year old on investing next year with the hopes like you that he will see the growth and be inspired by it.

  13. I don’t remember any ah-ha moment, but I do remember as a teenager in the mid 70’s it took me a year of saving my babysitting money, which I put into a Canada savings Bond, to buy a leather jacket I really wanted. My friend said “You’re the only teenager I know who has a Canada saving Bond”.
    My oldest brother was a huge influence on me. My parents weren’t frugal, but my brother and his wife were. They bought Xmas gifts for themselves after Xmas.
    When I was in elementary school we did have bank accounts through our school. I don’t think that would work now..parents give their kids too much, and small amounts of money don’t have any impact on kids.Kids now are very spoiled.

    1. It paid off to be different didn’t it? We are like your brother where we buy Christmas gifts after the holidays as well. More deals! Small amounts almost never have impact on people BUT those small amounts all ADD up which is where people go wrong because they look at it a a dollar here or a dollar there. You are right Kathryn. Thanks for sharing.

  14. My Dad had “Sunday family meetings”. Part of the purpose of the meetings, right before dinner, was to teach the children how to evaluate and gather information on companies listed on the stock market. We had imaginary money to book imaginary trades with Dad and then we tracked our purchase… deciding when to dollar cost average & buy more and when to take some of the profit off the table and worst of all… to lock in a loss. If we made money, Dad would pay us the profit for our piggy banks. If we lost money, we had to pay up from the piggy bank. I still remember having to pay up $10 out of my piggy on an imaginary trade of Evergreen Resources. 🙁 That loss was a defining moment in my future savings patters… I became a diehard “fixed income” and preferably government/CDIC insured kind of gal. Laddered portfolios became my friend. 🙂

    1. WOW, that’s impressive Mary. Your dad certainly wanted to make sure that you all had money lessons and learned it while you were young. That’s great how he paid you the profit as well. I bet you learned lots from that experience. Thanks for sharing this Mary.

  15. 10% interest in a savings account…Oh how I wish those days were still here! My kids get their bank statements now each quarter and see the pennies they earn. Doesn’t seem like that’s teaching a great lesson about the benefits of saving.

    1. It’s not like it used to be these days Brian.. ah well what can you do. It’s a good money lesson though that’s for sure. What goes up will likely come down lol. Cheers mate

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