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When I Was Your Age
  • Real parents share their childhood memories of jobs, money, and lessons

The Penny Saver

Childhood lessons can contribute to adult-sized savings
Wendy M., Age 39
Silver Spring, MD

When I was a little girl I used to read the "KidsPost," a regular part of the Washington Post newspaper. It was something I looked forward to every Sunday and couldn't wait to read. The KidsPost featured stories, tips, and ideas for kids.

There was one story in that paper that I will always remember. It was about a 16-year-old girl who got her first car because her father had saved up pennies over the years from the time she was born. When the girl reached age 16, her father purchased a car from the pennies he had saved. The moral of the story was that a little can really add up if you continue to save regularly.

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This memory stayed with me over the years, reminding me to recognize the value of money, regardless of how small the amount. That's why I have always saved my pennies. I remember rolling pennies and placing them in wrappers with my grandmother when I was small. I knew my pennies were adding up and that if I continued, I could use my savings to buy something I really wanted.

I don't know how much I have accumulated over the years, but my goal is to continue saving pennies and to pass this tradition along to my kids.

Fast forward to my early adulthood and the time I started my first real job. My dad strongly encouraged me to open an IRA and contribute $25 each month. I thought, "Why should I start saving for retirement now?" I wasn't making a lot of money and retirement was a long way off. But, just like the pennies, I am so glad my dad pushed me to save small amounts of money regularly.

I have continued to save for retirement since then and am glad because time flies and I have made real progress toward my retirement savings goals. As my salary has increased, I've kept up these good savings habits and allocated more for retirement each month.

I think it is important to teach your children about saving and the value of money like my parents did. Oftentimes, lessons learned when we are children will stay with us into adulthood and then will be passed on to our children and to future generations. I will definitely encourage my children to embrace this savings tradition.

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