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Breaking the Piggy Bank

Filed in:Alexandra

Breaking the Piggy Bank

November 16th, 2009  · stk

A classic Norman Rockwell moment, as Alex takes her ceramic piggy bank down to our local credit union "Island Savings" and opens her very first bank account. At age six, our girl is learning how to save her money! She deposited $54.40 in coins.

Alex's Opens Her First Bank Account - Chooses Island Savings Credit Union

 Island Savings Credit Union Logo

It was classic Norman Rockwell. A six-year-old girl holding a ceramic piggy bank, sitting in the lobby of a bank, waiting to open her very first bank account. The girl was none other than our Alex and the bank was the small branch of a local credit union.

Earlier that morning, Alex asked, "Can I get a bank account?" (Since Dad is keen on personal finance - having retired at age 39 and opened his first business when he was 12 - his ears perked up).

Several questions later, it became clear to him that Alex understood the concept of banks (even though she couldn't name all the denominations of coins in her piggy bank).

Alex has a very special piggy bank, one given to her by her God-mother - a beautifully decorated and glazed ceramic pig, complete with Alex's tiny hand-print on it (Alex was two-years-old at the time "Wilber" was made).

That afternoon, Dad drove his 6-year-old daughter to the credit union in Cedar. It was a long visit. She signed multiple forms and it took time to count out her "life-savings".

It was a very big day for Alex and a proud one for her Dad (who was busy taking pictures of the event). The visit brought smiles to the banking staff, whe were very patient with Alex and treated her like a 'big girl' customer. Not every new account holder meets one of the Credit Union Board of Directors, but Alex did! She also learned the difference between tokens, coins and foreign money (as she had a few Pence and U.S. coins).

To learn more about Alex's first account, read on ...

Alex Signs on the Dotted Line

Alex's piggy bank was getting pretty full of coins. Most were gleaned from change left around the house. We'd say, "Here's a bit of change, put this in your piggy bank."

We've not yet given Alex an allowance, for a couple of reasons. First is that she's not really had much "need" for money. It's a rare event that she buys anything at the store, though we have let her buy things on occassion, at the local dollar store (she bought Mother's Day presents there this year). Secondly, we don't want to associate money with chores, because we want Alex to understand that helping out around the house is a family responsibility - not a work-for-pay program. (Presently, it's Alex's responsibility to feed the fish and the cat, daily, and occassionally help with other chores like drying dishes, cleaning, sorting laundry and tending to the chickens).

Even without an allowance, the piggy bank has gotten heavier over the years and Alex has relished "counting" the coins she's saved (with Mom or Dad's help, of course). The pig was getting heavy enough to consider consolidating the coins into paper money - or - as Alex suggested, putting it into a bank account.

We live in a rural area and fortunately, there is a Credit Union branch across from the local grocery store. (The Lieutenant at the fire hall is dating one of the girls that works there, so we figured we'd be in good hands. I did say it was a small town, right?)

The branch was pretty busy when we arrived and we had to wait for a half an hour, till someone could help us. Alex was getting a tad fidgety, but she was determined to open her bank account! Finally, it was our turn.

Like a lot of banks and credit unions, Island Savings has a kid's savings program. Such accounts encourage savings by adding kid-appropriate features. In the case of Island Savings, this means: rebated initial share purchase (a $5 value), a bonus 0.5% interest rate, monthly statements in the mail, no monthly fees, online access and a member card. (All stuff Alex - and her Dad - appreciate!)

Island Savings even has a mascot - "Penny" the (Wise) Owl! (The mascot represents the Credit Union at parades, festivals and other events). There's even cartoon drawings of Penny that can be downloaded off their website, for kids to color. (Now that's something to which Alex can relate!)

So it's finally Alex's turn and Dad sets her in the big chair and lets her interact one-on-one. Dad really wanted Alex's account to be "hers", so opts for an individual account (rather than a joint account with one or the other parent. This might cause some problems down the road, as they won't let Alex access her account online, till she's a bit older). For now, however, it's Alex's show, as she has to sign several documents. (Of course, Alex doesn't have a "signature" yet and can't even spell her last name ... but she dutifully pens in A - L - E - X into each official document (about eight or ten different places).

Then comes the fun part: Breaking the Piggy Bank!

Fortunately, there's a rubber plug in the pig's tummy, so we don't have to ruin Alex's lovely ceramic pig, on order to get at the change. We unplug the thing and dump the contents onto the desk ... after chasing down a couple of errant coins.

It makes quite the pile and the three of us begin to count it ... Toonies, Loonies, quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies. Alex helps the best she can, but mostly, the two adults put coins into rolls and keeps a running tally on a pad of paper. (Alex has several foreign coins, mostly from the United States, but a 10P from England and also a coin "token" from a local kid's arcade. We try to explain to Alex why we can't add those to the total).

After about twenty minutes or so of counting, we finally have a grand total, which is entered into the computer and Alex officially makes her first deposit - $54.40!...

... into her very own bank account!

As an aside, Alex didn't just open up her first bank account, she also got to rub elbows with "big wigs"! One of the Board of Directors! Richard Hill, owner of the Yellow Point Lodge, just happened to be in the branch. He pleasantly chatted to us while we were waiting to open Alex's account and then took an interest as she was signing papers and counting out her money. He came over and pointed out to Alex that, in addition to depositing money into her very first account, she was also becoming a part-owner of the bank! (She thought that was pretty cool!)

So you see, we really do live in a small town.

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Updated: 25-Nov-2009
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1.flag Ann Sutthery Comment
Left handed eh!
2.flag stk Comment
Sinister, isn't it? :p
3.flag Gran Pilley Comment
Way to go Alex. Keep saving and let's hope your money will grow!
4.flag Richard Hill Comment
That was a nice day at the credit union with you and Alex. (it was 'credit union day' hence the half hour wait.) I really appreciated the time you took to post the story of Alex's start down the road to financial responsability and especially your kind comments. Say 'hi' to Alex for me and come and visit us at the lodge sometime. Cheers.

Richard Hill
5.flag stk Comment
Gran - She's already got more than me! :p

Richard - Yes, I was proud as punch to take my little girl down with her piggy bank. She's a great kid (most of the time) and loves people - sometimes almost to the point of embarrassment!

We'll have to make the trek down to see your lodge sometime (we've kayaked around the point from Blue Heron park), but not been down the road for a visit (don't want to "intrude", I guess).

Funny too, considering we're not that far away.

Look forward to meeting you more formally, some day!
6.flag Gary Comment
Nice work Alex, glad you managed to save some money and you are a big grown up girl now.

$54.40 that's a tidy sum to open a bank account with!

Great story, Gary

Webmaster comment: Gary, WTF is this URL? "http://I got no web site at the mo :-(" You do realize that's an invalid URL that breaks validation, right? (Straight to Jail for you, do not pass GO!) :p
7.flag stk Comment
Thanks Gary! Yes, it was a fun "Oop & Dad" outing.

Next ... removing Alex's first loose tooth!
8.flag Terrie Edgar Comment
How fast they grow!
LaForge pointed me here; glad to see you're enjoying life :)