Apr 29: A closer link at the most common savings vehicle – the piggy bank

April 29, 2024

We all have one or more of them, lying around the house, holding little caches of change. But how did the tradition of piggy banks come about?

Save with SPP decided to do a little digging about our porcine cash-saving pals.

Wikipedia defines the piggy bank as “the traditional name of a coin container normally used by children,” noting they are traditionally made of ceramic or porcelain.

“They are generally painted and serve as a pedagogical device to teach the rudiments of thrift and saving to children,” the article continues.

OK, but why are they shaped like pigs? “The earliest known pig-shaped money containers date to the 12th century on the island of Java. The Javanese term cèlèngan (literally `likeness of a wild boar, but used to mean both `savings’ and `piggy bank,’) is also in the modern Indonesian language,” the article notes.

In fact, Wikipedia adds, “a large number of boar-shaped piggy banks were discovered at the large archaeological site surrounding Trowulan, a village in the Indonesian province of East Java and a possible site of the capital of the Majapahit Empire.”

While most of these change-hoarding wild boar statuettes are small, the folks at Guinness World Records tell us that the largest piggy bank ever recorded was “achieved by Kreissparkasse Ludwigsburg (Germany)… on 18 May, 2015.” This monster piggy bank, Guinness reports, was 8.03 meters long and 5.54 meters wide.

“Money was inserted into the piggy bank using a small crane, carrying each coin to the slot one by one after inserting it into a smaller piggy bank at the bottom of the crane,” Guinness reports.

The only other piggy bank record that comes up is that of Leo, a cocker spaniel owned by Emily Anderson of Aberdeen, Scotland, who holds the record of being able to put 23 coins in a piggy bank in under one minute.

OK, they can be small, big, have origins in Java, and a canine deposit connection. We wondered what people do with their piggy banks, and the money in them?

A few years ago, ABC News reported on the delightful story of Aryana Chopra, then five, who used money she saved in her piggy bank to buy residents of a nearby nursing home “a New Year’s cake as well as a decorative Santa Claus and a vase.” She also gave each of the 200 residents a handmade card, the article reports.

Many people collect piggy banks, reports the Vintage Virtue blog.

Few of the very earliest piggy banks survive, the article notes, because they had to be smashed with a hammer to retrieve the coins within. Once the idea of having a removeable plug in the base of the bank began, banks “were saved from destruction, making them a fun collectible today,” the blog reports.

Collectible banks have been made in Europe and the U.S., and the article suggests you do some online research if considering buying a bank you think has value.

“If you are interested in the traditional `still’ piggy bank, the cast-iron banks manufactured between the 1870s and the early 1930s are considered the most valuable from an investment standpoint. Early cast-iron banks were made by hardware foundries which were often out of business by the turn of the century. Foundries manufactured some later cast-iron banks as a way to diversify their offerings and stay in business during the lean years of the Great Depression, but by the mid-1930s, cast-iron still-bank production had come to an end,” the article notes.

“Through careful selection and research, you can become part of a vibrant global community that seeks to preserve and celebrate the history of these simple yet charming objects. So join the party and get collecting,” advises the blog.

We have two piggy banks on the go here. One, a porcelain armadillo featuring a Texas flag, is where we put our U.S. change. When we go over the bridge to Ogdensburg, N.Y. we run the coins through a change machine and then add the bills to our shopping budget.

Our other one is shaped like a delivery truck, and the coins it carried have mostly been used to bolster our Saskatchewan Pension Plan savings – we convert the change to bills and then deposit them in the bank before making a “bill payment” to our future selves.

If your piggy bank is filled to the brim, why not consider making a contribution to SPP, the made-in-Saskatchewan do-it-yourself pension plan that’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room? Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

What to do on your staycation

August 1, 2013

By Sheryl Smolkin


I am convinced that there are two kinds of people in this world. The first group includes workaholics who never use up all of their paid vacation days. The second group carefully plans how each vacation day will be used and yearns for more.

This dichotomy was recently illustrated in the results of the 2013 Vacation Deprivation Survey which revealed that employed Canadians forfeit an average of two days of vacation per year which could be used to relax or travel. This amounts to 32 million untaken days and $5.1 billion in wages handed back to employers.

Yet many Canadians show a strong desire to take time off, with one in five employed Canadians saying they would take a lower salary for more vacation time (22 per cent). Also, “an extra vacation day” tops the list of perks employees would like to receive as a reward for company loyalty.

In many organizations vacation days cannot be carried over to the next year, so it’s “use it or lose it.” But even if you can’t afford to take expensive trips to exotic locations, there are plenty of good options for taking a staycation close to home.

Wikipedia describes a staycation as “a period in which you or your family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in your own beds at night.” You might make day trips to local tourist sites, swimming venues or engage in activities such as horseback riding, paintball or visiting museums.

The benefits of staycations are that they are far less costly than a vacation involving travel. There are no lodging costs and travel expenses are minimal. However, to make it feel like a vacation, budget for local trips, one or two meals out and tickets to local attractions.

Since 2011 the Government of Saskatchewan has funded the “Saskatchewanderer” project. One creative, energetic and motivated student has been hired each summer to discover everything that makes Saskatchewan great. Their job was to visit, video and blog about special events, little known gems and remote locations in the province.

You can learn from their experience. Andrew’s 2011 Adventure, Jeff’s 2012 Adventure and Caitlin’s 2013 Adventure include lots of terrific ideas about things to do on your staycation regardless of what part of the province you live in. Also check out the The Saskatchewanderer on Facebook.

Already this summer, a few of the places and events Caitlin has visited include Regina’s 46th Annual Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures; the PotashCorp Children’s Festival in Saskatoon; Grasslands National Park; and Hudson Bay, SK.

In contrast, Jonathan Chevreau, the editor of Moneysense and author of Findependence Day has a different take on staycations. In a blog posted on June 17th, he says one type of staycation is where you continue to work, but on your own projects rather than for your employer. You can also tackle various chores or home improvement projects.

If you still have a day job but have reached the point where you have several weeks of paid vacation a year, Chevreau says you may find a working staycation is an excellent trial run for retirement. He wrote the first edition of Findependence Day in the summer of 2008 during paid vacation weeks from his newspaper staff columnist job.

Whether you decide to travel on your vacation or spend the time working on pet projects closer to home, don’t forfeit paid vacation days. In years to come, no one will have fond memories of the extra time you put in at the office. But your children and your grandchildren will remember your quality time together, even if you went no further than the pup tent pitched in the front yard.

Do you have tips for people planning staycations? Share your tips with us at and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

8-Aug Garage sales How to make money on your garage sale
15-Aug Back to school Back to school shopping: A teachable moment
22-Aug College/University Stay at home or go away to school?