Saving to Give
Savings jars have been around since ancient times, and even though e-transfers and banking apps might be more convenient, families all over the world still use them to teach children about money. Abundance Canada client Henry Friesen will never forget the lessons he learned from the savings jar that sat in his family’s kitchen cupboard.
Henry explains, “We sold eggs on our farm growing up, and the money went into a jar in the kitchen cupboard that was easily accessible to everyone.” The household rule was that any family member could help themselves to the ‘egg jar money’ without asking for permission. However, Henry clarifies, “It was understood that whatever we spent it on should be necessary by my dad’s standards.”
Saving Up for Generosity
One evening, young Henry overheard his parents discussing a debt they were working to pay off. The timbre of his mother’s voice communicated a level of worry he was unaccustomed to hearing, and he and his sister soon hatched a plan to help.
“From that point on, my sister and I took turns sneaking bills out of the egg jar, and hiding them away,” remembers Henry. They weren’t breaking the rules – surely helping pay off this worrisome debt qualified as an acceptable ‘egg jar’ expense. As their stash grew, the children secretly counted the bills. In one month, they managed to extract $400. “That was quite a lot of money for rural Manitoba in 1966 – more than $3,000 today!” laughs Henry.
A Most Generous Donation
When Henry and his sister once again heard their parents discussing repaying the debt they owed, the children decided their moment had arrived. “My father was trying to reassure my mother that we would be able to repay it eventually,” remembers Henry. He and his sister retrieved the money from their secret hiding place and burst into the dining room. Proudly, they dumped all the money on the table in front of their unsuspecting parents and expectantly asked, ‘Would this help?’
“We were so pleased with ourselves,” chuckles Henry. “It never occurred to us that our generous donation came right out of our parents’ pockets.”
Henry’s father looked at his children’s gift and after a moment quietly said, “I wondered a couple of times if money had gone missing”. He masked his shock as he quickly determined that his children’s intentions had been honourable. Gathering the bills, he quietly put them back in the egg jar. Henry says, “He didn’t complain. He didn’t even tell us we shouldn’t have done it. The generosity and concern we showed was worth more to him than the dollars and cents.”Henry Friesen learned a valuable lesson in generosity when he and his sister turned the family savings jar into a tool for giving.
Contributed by Harold Penner
Gift Planning Consultant