Thursday, October 05, 2006

The new piggy bank

We took Iris to Girl Scout signups last weekend. Each potential recruit was given a gift. We all know what I think of goodie bags.

This gift was particularly annoying. The more I think of it, the scarier it becomes. Of course this new-style "piggy bank" is imported from China. That wasn't the major problem. The design of the bank indicated that it was intended to be opened frequently. That wasn't troubling to me.

Take a look at the four savings goals that one can switch between.
  1. Beauty Emergency
  2. Fashion Fund
  3. Jewelry Fund
  4. For Fast Food
All the reasons to save are for short-term instant gratification. There are no long-term goals like saving for college, retirement or buying a home. Those are the things that would really contribute to the girls' and our nation's well-being. My husband says the bank was clearly intended to be tongue-in-cheek. But I don't think the little girls got the joke.

In fact, I think that many grown women don't get the joke. Think about how many women spend their paychecks chasing the latest fashions before they even pay themselves first by saving for their future. This fantasy of living only for today is going to crash hard.

A savings goal rarely mentioned
On a related matter, I believe that women should save for an additional long-term goal, motherhood. Whether you aspire to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) or a career woman, motherhood is expensive. Don't hold your breathe waiting for the nation to tax itself to provide mothers with childcare subsidies. Start taxing yourself right now (this minute!) by saving up for the horrendously high cost of high quality daycare. Put it in a Roth IRA so that you gain the advantage of tax-free compounding and can tap the principal without penalty.

If you think that you even might want to remain a SAHM, you can use those savings if needed, to help pay the mortgage while your family lives on one income. This money will be expecially important because of the retirement money that you lose by not being in the paid labor force.

In California, the money you save before marriage is yours. It's an extra insurance policy. I hope you don't have to use it for that. I hope you use your savings to make your dream a reality. But saving for a rainy day (even in a place that never rains) will never go out of style.


  1. The stupider aspect of that "bank" is that you can only save for one thing at a time. Hello--diversification?!

  2. That bank is sending a very scary (shallow) message to girls! And I'm with you - I'm in favor of anything associated with people planning ahead for parenthood in every way, including financially! Too many people don't!

  3. Anonymous11:38

    I agree with your DH that it is probably tongue-in-cheek, but that is lost on small girls, and unfortunately many adults as well.

    All in all it seems to encourage this pursuit of the frivolous, and the sense of entitlement that America as a culture seems to have settled into, that we deserve to stay on top and should not have to work or study or do anything difficult to stay there. Saving and plannig seem to be among the things that are deemed to "difficult".

    Not necessarily the values one wants to instill in one's child (or grandchild in my case)


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