Did you know that there is a theory that those plucky pink ceramic piggy banks that you threw quarters in as a kid were originally created because of a misinterpretation of the word pygg, the name of a type of clay used in the 15th century to craft earthenware containers?
According to some theorists, potters, who used the pygg clay to build money containers with tiny slits in the top so that coins could be dropped in and not retrieved back out, embraced the misnomer and began crafting their clay pygg banks in the shape of little porkers. And thus, the piggy bank was born.
However, while there is some support for this belief—certain dictionaries do list pygg as an alternative word for pig when referring to earthenware containers—the truth is that it seems no one really knows the origins of the first piggy bank.
As Stacey Sklepinski at Mental Floss notes, pinpointing the origins of piggy banks is difficult because “early piggy banks are hardly ever found—they were shattered in order to retrieve the saved coins—which has made it difficult to study their beginnings.” Yet, there are numerous connections that researchers have drawn between a variety of cultures and the piggy bank. For example, piggy banks have been linked to Germany through a discovery of a 13th century piggy bank, as well as the Qing dynasty in China and 14th century Indonesia.
Many of you may be looking back on younger days, to the humble little pig that gobbled loose change and rested on your mantle, feeling like that ceramic coin box is nothing more than a remnant of an economic time. A time that was much simpler than the digital daze of what is now an economy run through apps and automation. Yet you would be surprised to find that Hambone and Porkchop have not been resting on their laurels!
While the ceramic piggy bank of the 15th century may now be more of a quaint knickknack than a viable money-saving device, the idea of the piggy bank has evolved to fit our 21st century needs.
Piggy bank apps for the young
There are two new money-saving toys for kids that can help them learn the value of saving without the hassle of smashing open that poor little piggy when it’s time to make a purchase.
The first modern piggy bank is call Ernit. This app/peripheral combination stays true to the original piggy bank theme, providing kids with an adorable, albeit updated, pig to adorn their desk or dresser.
But, this little pig doesn’t take in nickels and dimes, it instead works with a companion app that allows anyone with access the ability to deposit money into the child’s account through a simple interface. When the money is deposited, the bank gives a notification, letting the child know that they have earned some cash.
The ultimate goal of the app’s creators is for children to learn the value of money, and through the app, create goals to work toward earning it. The app is currently only available for pre-order, and will be released in early 2017.
Another contemporary piggy bank is the Piggybot by BancVue. This entirely digital piggy bank works like the old-school physical bank, but with an added element of earnings visualization that helps kids to better see the money they are earning and saving.
The app allows parents to create an account for their child, and to deposit money into the account when desired. Once the money is deposited, the child has the ability to manipulate where the money goes, placing it in a spending, saving or sharing account for use.
When the child wants to purchase an item, he or she can provide a notification to the parent and the money will be transferred back into the parent’s account for purchase. Using colorful visuals and pictures to help children literally see the money they earn and the items they want to purchase, Piggybot is intended to help kids develop an understanding of the value of money. Additionally, the added “share” option means that parents can take their child’s spending education a step further by showing how to contribute to household expenses.
Piggy bank apps for the young at heart
Digit, a money saving app that serves to innocuously siphon money from your checking account into a separate savings account, works on an earning and spending algorithm based on your actual transaction history.
The app links to your checking account, and begins to move money from that account into a savings account based on daily transactions. The amount of money moved is continuously alternating based on account activity, and ranges from $5-50. And while it may seem a bit uncomfortable to have money withdrawn from your account without your permission, the app guarantees frequent text alerts notifying you of withdrawals, 128-bit bank-level security and the ability take money from the account at any time. The app developers also guarantee that your account will never overdraft because of Digit.
Acorns is an app that saves you money by rounding purchases up to the nearest dollar amount and depositing the change into a basic investment portfolio. By linking the app to a debit or credit card, consumers can begin accruing a bit of stock savings without having to dabble in any day trading. The app also allows users to diversify their savings through a variety of risk options, allowing a bit more control over where the money is going once it leaves your account. Through a simple iOS interface, the app lets users dial up or dial down their investing.
This just goes to show that while smartphones and apps are changing the way we spend and save, there is always room for the old money-saving tools to help us sock away some dough for the future!