This is a really great project to teach your kids about money, to collaborate as a family, and to enjoy a wonderful reward at the end of the year.

The Family Piggy Bank Project

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the family piggy bankLast year, I wrote about a special project our family started working on at Christmas: The Family Piggy Bank. I bought a piggy bank, wrapped it up, and set it under the Christmas tree, with a label that read, To: Our Family  Merry Christmas! From: All of us!

My daughter was really intrigued by this, and I was excited to explain that this would be the best gift we would receive this year, by far.

This is how it works.

All year long, we will all be putting money into our communal piggy bank. We will be creative with ways to make more money available for savings, and plunk in there as much as we can. Each month, we’ll open it, count it up, and record the amount. We’ll put it in a larger jar somewhere we can see it, and see if we can match or exceed that amount in the next month. At the end of the year, this is our special gift to ourselves– a big chunk of cash to use for TRAVEL.

And this is what we did, all year. At first, we were super-motivated, and in the first month we managed to put almost £100 in. We gave up our winter Friday pub nights and put the £10 in the family piggy bank, and played games around the fire at home. Things waxed and waned through the year, and the summertime was particularly expensive.

I put some money I earned through freelance work into the family piggy bank, and Amelia added some lemonade stand earnings. Jeff had some vacation time he didn’t use this year, and put the cash-out money into the family piggy bank.

All year, we put change, an extra bill here or there, etc. into the bank. I tried to be extra-diligent with our grocery money, and managed to squirrel away a few £10 notes most months.

We made some sacrifices. After our spendy summer, with very little going into the bank, we didn’t eat out at all (this is not something we do often anyway, but we have a tradition of having breakfast out on Saturday mornings.)  Each week, we put the money we would have spent on those luxuries into the family piggy bank. Most of our entertainment was completely free– walks in the woods, trips to the beach, and picnics at the park.

In terms of saving, some months were not much to be proud of– but we worked to make it up in others. I think this was a really great experience for Amelia. We had a lot of conversations about how money works, and there were lots of opportunities to defer our enjoyment for the sake of something bigger– to collaborate and build something together as a family.

And I am happy to report that we did save an amount that, for us, is pretty significant!

We have come close to £1000. And the last few weeks have found us dreaming quite a bit… We have never had a week-long vacation/ holiday before. We are not the sort– or haven’t been the sort– of family that gets to do that kind of thing.  We are thinking of visiting the Canary Islands in February… Or we could wait a bit longer and go to Greece! We also have the option of doing two smaller trips, instead of one big one… This feeling of possibility is so exciting for us, and in this context– NEW! We all worked hard this year to make this possible, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

There is something else that makes this significant for us. Jeff’s job contract recently changed, and we are adjusting to a drastic pay cut. We know that we are very fortunate and taken care of in the grand scheme of things. But this is still hard. Especially at this time of year. Yet what an incredible gift– we had no idea that this cut was coming down the pike, but here we are, having saved all year for something wonderful (and otherwise completely unthinkable on such a tight budget) for our family.

On Christmas morning this year, we will sit down for a final money-counting session, and then we will plan how to use it together. I cannot wait. This has been such a great experience for our family, and we haven’t even used the money yet.

Will your family be saving up for something this year?

Update:  We were able to take a trip to Tenerife, and stayed in a really nice little cottage there for a week! It was a total dream come true, and it felt amazing that we made this happen for ourselves. 


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The family piggy bank

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15 Responses to The Family Piggy Bank Project

  1. Liene December 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Sorry to hear about Jeff’s contract. It’s an unpredictable world, and it is good to have a savings cushion to fall back on. We’ve never done such a visible savings project, and I think the $ here and $ there doesn’t add up so quickly when you can’t “see” it. Congratulations to you all on a vacation well-earned!

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      Thank you, Liene! Yes, life is really unpredictable, and somehow the expat life feels a lot more so. We’ll come out just fine– but this project put our little wind in our sails when we needed it. I think we’ll go to the Canary Islands!

  2. Joanna December 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    That is a lovely idea. I used to save 20p pieces and when we had enough we would go out for a meal in a wonderful little restaurant, that unfortunately closed down. We won’t be saving anything this year, we need earnings for that 🙂

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

      I love that idea, Joanna, especially with 20ps. Wishing for you some income (or windfall) in 2014. 😉

  3. heidi tijssen December 18, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    What a good idea. Our family tries to save as well. For an home of our own… We’re living in a house which we like, but is very old and in need of repair, and we don’t know how long we can stay here. But having 7 kids, it is not easy to find some extra money. Often anything which we don’t exactly need is already treated as a luxury. Anyway, being all healthy, having enough clean and whole clothing, a full stomach and a cosy house there is a lot to be thankfull for.

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

      Yes Heidi– luxury really is relative to what is going on at the moment. For most of our life, we haven’t been able to fathom anything like this. We had never even taken a weekend vacation together until my daughter was 5. Life is good even without the cherry on top– but it never hurts, either! Wishing your a year of deep provision and satisfaction in 2014.

  4. Jenny December 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    I love this idea. I think we’ll start it on New Year’s!

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

      So glad to hear it, Jenny!

  5. carrie January 8, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    I had been thinking of doing something like this for quite a few months…you post clinched it in my mind. I have been wanting something concrete to help me make decisions to forgo something lazy today in order to have more dreams realized tomorrow. Gave you a shout out on a post here


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