Doin’ It Old School With A Pig: A Lesson On Finances From An 8 Year Old


I was walking through a barrio here in Costa Rica the other day and came across this guy (above). Suddenly I had a flashback of when I was 8 years old and had a piggy bank that I was determined to fill. Recently my mom told me that when I was younger I never spent my allowance, but instead had her open a bank account where I could put all of my earnings. I remember being 13 years old with over $1,000 in the bank and feeling like a millionaire!

I wish I had stuck with that mentality.

Instead, about 8 years ago I opened up my first credit card (I stayed away as long as I could), started a business (took out a bunch of loans), went to a ton of seminars and workshops (spent a grip of money that I didn’t have), got my MBA (yay for student loans!), oh yeah, and bought a car that I didn’t need (but it was good on gas – that’s how I convinced myself that I needed it).

I accumulated over $100,000 in debt.


One morning I woke up and realized that I must have been living on some other planet, and in some other reality for the past few years. I honestly have no idea how I accumulated so much debt in such a short amount of time without recognizing the signs. Obviously it’s easy to look back and see the plethora of signs, but it’s a different story when you’re right smack in the middle of a train wreck. Know what I mean?

I had to make a change, and I did. I cut up the credit cards and built a system to slowly, but successfully, start to pull myself out of that hole. I’m about 70% of the way out at this point, but that’s not what this post is about.

Full circle back to the oinker up there: I’m starting anew.

I’m going to literally put all of my extra earnings (after bills and all of that necessary stuff) into that little piggy bank. At the end of each day, I’m going to put all loose change and small bills into that pig. If there’s leftover money at the end of each week (I allot myself a certain amount of money each week for groceries, etc.) it’s going to make it’s way into that colorful little guy.

The key ingredient to this pig, and one of the main reason I bought it, is that if I want to get the money from inside – I literally have to break the bank. I have to take a hammer and bust it open. This means that I’m not going to be able to make little excuses about needing a “little bit of money” for something, and sneaking into the bank to pull out some change. No way Jose, it’s excuse-proof.

We all experience lapses in our lives, from (seemingly) insignificant lapses to enormous ones. Sometimes it even happens more than once. What we need to realize, though, is that lapses allow us to start over. They allow us to learn. They allow us to change patterns that aren’t working for our lives. Ultimately, they allow us to grow.

If you’re having a difficult time finding extra money at the end of the month, try the method I’m doing. Just put your loose change and small bills (1 dollar bills in the U.S., 1,000 colones in Costa Rica, etc.) in the pig at the end of every day. You won’t miss that money when it’s in small chunks like that, and you will be shocked how much adds up by the end of the month.

What about you? Do you have any tips? Please let us know in the comments section below!

  • Ben Ross

    Interesting, it reminds me of something I learnt recently that I love. Which is to divide up the money you recieve into different accounts or find a way to track it. For example, one for investment, one for play, one for basic needs etc. It’s something i’m going to take on and see how it goes.

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