Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The "Piggy" In The Piggy Bank

When I was a child, you know back when dinosaurs roamed the earth back in the 1950's, one of the very popular gifts we received as kids was a treasured piggy bank. In fact, I developed a fondness for pigs and make it a point to see them at the County Fair still. Of course with the gift we were reminded how important it was to save and to put as much in that bank as we could. Then there was the ritual of opening a saving account at the local bank and putting money in it now and then. I can remember squirreling away the passbook and pulling it out to see how my savings was growing. We even got interest, if anyone remembers what that is. A few hundred dollars back then was, to me at least, a lot of money. Much of it came from my paper route, a losing proposition except for the kind tips I would get.

Then in high school I had assorted jobs highlighted by being a busboy in a Chinese restaurant, owned by the next door neighbor of my best friend. While what the cooks were eating then is quite normal to me now here in Southern California, back in the early 60's Chinese-American was definitely an apt term for food we ate that no one in China had ever seen before.

We design and are designed by our parents with values that they hope will make us good citizens when we become adults. Saving, being frugal were much admired traits by parents and grandparents who had somehow survived the Great Depression. They knew what it was to wont and while I used to snicker at my Grandmother and Aunt saving every plastic bag, I realized as I got older they often didn't even have that to carry food they bought or could find. Habits die hard.

Where did we go wrong? What brought this up was a comment my wife made when looking for said "piggy bank." In several stores they had to look around, one with no luck, another with one choice. The same for Toys R Us. They had one choice, a meager plastic thing she would never buy. It hit me what a sad commentary this is to modern life. Rather than encouraging our kids to save, everyone encourages them to spend spend spend.

Think about it. Ads to buy pummel us at every turn. Now, even the Internet is finding more and more creative ways to sneak those ads in. In case you didn't know it, and should, every search on Google that you enter, the first four or five listings are PAID ads. Click on those and Google gets money. While it could be as little as a few cents per click, a 100 million clicks adds up to lots of cents. We, and especially our kids, are not being encouraged to save, we are being encouraged to spend.

Watching "Antiques Roadshow" I am amazed and often stunned by the values of items. One of the hottest things going today, and I noticed that a few replicas are starting to be made, is antique piggy banks. Someone had one in nearly pristine condition that was worth around $10,000. Can you imagine? For a piggy bank? I would bet, now this is Southern California and other areas of the country might be more frugal, that many of the households within a 15 mile radius of my house, have no piggy bank.

So, I would guess that "piggy" won out and as a debtor nation, there is nothing left in the bank.

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