I just returned from Las Vegas where I attended the AICPA personal financial planning conference and where I also made an opening day presentation to a packed house awarding the Institute the Special Award of Excellence from CPA Wealth Provider. In 2006, the AICPA launched a nationwide effort to encourage Americans ages 25 to 34 to “feed the pig” as a key step toward building a solid financial future for themselves and their families.Actually, Feed the Pig is a national multi-media public-service announcement campaign sponsored by the Institute and the Ad Council. Featuring Benjamin Bankes, a smartly dressed, adult-size pig who evokes memories of the piggy bank, the campaign delivers a strong message about the importance and benefits of savings.  It is a noteworthy effort and I decided to put it to the test not for 25-to-34-year -olds but rather for the 6-to-11 mob, my grandchildren.

So, I set up the piggy bank (it’s quite attractive and if you are looking for one, you might contact the AICPA), where I encouraged the kids to drop loose change in the slot. Of course, did you ever know a 6-year-old  to have any change? Naturally, they were reluctant to do so until I started fishing coins out of my own pockets and then they were more than happy to start putting coins in the slot. In fact, they lined up taking turns to feed the pig.

Now, my objective was to start them saving. The four of them, Daniel, Matthew, Jessica, and Jamie, already have similar banks of one kind or other. Matthew has a huge coke bottle or is it a football, I forget which, but they did certainly look to save something although Jamie could easily spend her money on shoes … and she’s only 6.

In any event, the deal was a simple one. When the bank is full and we can’t get anything more into it, and then we will open it up, count the cash, and divide by four. Each of the kids would get their equal share but of that share, half of it would go to open a savings account at a nearby bank while the other half was theirs to keep and use (meaning, spend) in any way they want.

Success? Absolutely?  So, I now tell my good friend, Joel Allegretti, the superb director of media relations at the AICPA, that he can now expand the audience starting at six years of age.

Incidentally, a dedicated Web site, www.feedthepig.org, provides free financial information and tools to help young “career builders” take control of their finances and build long-term financial security. As David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, has said, “All Americans need to do a better job of planning, saving and investing for retirement, and the younger you are when you start, the better off you’ll be. I hope the Feed the Pig campaign encourages all Americans, especially young people, to take control of their own finances.”

It certainly works in my household.

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