Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the “Feeding Piggy” Game

“The importance of money flows from it being a link between the present and the future.” –John Maynard Keynes

Over time, I’ll tell you about the many things we are doing to save money for our travels, but I don’t think any of our methods will be nearly as much fun as the game the bipeds have been playing for years now.

Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the "Feeding Piggy" Game!

It All Adds Up!

You ready? The game is “Feeding Piggy” and here are the rules!

  1. Pay for things in cash all day. Use your bills, bank card (Interact) or credit cards.
  2. Once home, put ALL of your change from the day into your piggy bank.
  3. That’s it. That’s the game. It’s that simple.

What? You don’t think it’s fun. Oh you really don’t get it, do you?! Let me see if I can explain further the craziness of this.

The concept is related to the new buzz word in the world of saving money.” The word is “gamification.”  The theory is, if you want to take positive action, you need to harness the same mechanics that make games fun and addictive.

Addictive. Sounds evil, doesn’t it? I have a sudden urge to do a Count Dracula laugh right now. (Clears throat.) Mwahahahaaa… ahmmm. Sorry. Where was I?

Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the "Feeding Piggy" Game!

Sort and Count!

Fun and Games.

Oddly, “feeding piggy” didn’t actually start as a savings strategy. Rather, Dad has always dropped his coins in a piggy bank. Like most men, Dad carries his change in his pockets. It’s annoyingly heavy, especially since here in Canada we have the looney and toonie (large $1 and $2 coins). As Dad routinely emptied his heavy pockets, he’d put all of the small change into his piggy bank and keep the larger coins out. When our cleaning lady found loose change in pockets (or under the sofa!), she knew where to put it. She’s so honest; bless her!

Anyway, then we made the big decision to take longer trips. And longer trips mean more expensive, which meant we needed to begin some serious saving! We started by emptying Piggy and counting up the change.

We collected $225.77 over the first two years. Without even trying. Without feeling any difference. So the bipeds began to wonder what would happen if they started putting all of their change into Piggy, not just the small stuff. And – get this! – Mom purchased her own Piggy and now, the game is on: who can collect the most change!

  • Instead of just the small change, the  bipeds put all of their coins into their respective Piggies. This includes our $1 and $2 coins. (If you want to do this and you live in a country without dollar coins – the United States, for example – you might want to amend the rules so that $1 bills count as change.)
  • The bipeds make fewer transactions with debit or credit. Instead, almost everything is done with cash, which leaves left over change to feed the Piggies. It’s gotten to the point where the bipeds feel disappointed whey they have to make a purchase with a dedit card (Note: Using cash only also tends to make people spend less).
  • The bipeds have also adjusted some of their routine purchases in order to generate more change. For example, Mom’s daily Matcha tea (made with coconut milk) order at work came to $4.15 for a large.  She downsized to a medium.  As a result, she not only saves money but also, because she still has to break a $5 bill to pay, she has more change for her Piggy.
Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the "Feeding Piggy" Game!

We love to mess with our 25 cent coin. The “normal” one is in the centre.

The bipeds’ competition hasn’t yet got to the point where they’re stuffing $5 bills into change machines just to have more coins to put in their Piggies. But I don’t know if that’s because they are just not that crazy or if it’s  just a matter of time.

So here we are, a crazy bunch of change collecting maniacs! Our strategy shows that, no matter your goal, saving will work better if you can find a way to make it a game. I’ve noticed humans do chores because they have to, but they play games because they want to. And humans always do better with things they want to do.

Feeding Piggy  has all the components that “gamification” needs to have.  Think of a good video game to better understand the components.

Putting coins into the piggy bank is like acquiring points in a video game, complete with the validating “chink-a-chink” sound-effect to let you know you scored. Just like any video game, watching the points rise offers a sense of achievement.

But, if we are honest, it’s the sense of competition between the bipeds that really has Feeding Piggy firing up into a fun game.

The addictive component of gamification enters the game because there is “variability.” Some days, there are more opportunities to collect change than on other days. Where the fun lies is in the bipeds’ ability to influence that variability. The fact that they can change their behavior (exchange the coffee order) to “rack up more points” is what makes this really feel like a game. The bipeds want to “game up” or take it to the “next level”! They are getting rather creative, I must say!

Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the "Feeding Piggy" Game!

Game ON!

I believe the concept of gamification can be applied to many other things just as it works for saving for our travel. Think of what gamification could do for your plans to exercise, change your eating habits, or reduce the amount of time you spend watching television.

In fact, I know gamification can work for things other than savings. When Mom was in her 20’s, she smoked. (I know! I was shocked too!) Mom quit smoking by putting the money she would have spent on cigarettes and lighters (she was always loosing those) into a change jar. She got a lot of satisfaction out of watching her money pile grow. At the end of the year, she had enough money to take a fabulous skiing trip in Austria with a friend. Gamification worked when she was a young, single, twenty-something year old, and it’s working even better now that she is competing against Dad to bring in the most change over the day. Why?

Because the winner gets to decide how ALL of the money from BOTH

Piggies gets spent on the trip!

For my part, whoever takes me on a walk gets to keep any of the change I find on the sidewalks, in the grass, and under the benches. Oooh, I wonder what happens if I find a bill?!

Gamification … who knew? How do you trick yourself into saving more?

*Updated post from November 2012. 

67 Comments on “Saving for Long Term Travel Introducing the “Feeding Piggy” Game

  1. I am a terrible saver. My pocket change seems to get used for other things than to stuff the piggie. I use my quarters for laundry and my other pocket change for incidental things. You have some great ideas and I plan to put a few into play for me. Thanks, Monte!

    • Maybe if you had a piggy by the front door? Then when you get home, make it an automatic gesture to “feed the piggy”. Could end up being a lot more than you expect! You can spend it all when you come for that visit!

      • …the plan is in place. I have a gallon water jug that will be my “piggy”. Since I already budget laundry money to come out of my account, I can begin to feed the pig. I can save for my next trip in a very painless way.

  2. I have a coin saver and all spare change goes into it. This in turn gets rolled and deposited in an e-savings account.

    All of the bottle return money goes here as well! I always pick up empty bottles when I see them! Sometimes Cody & I have made as much as a dollar on our morning walk!! And you start thinking!! For example, we walk past a ball park and after they’d had their weekend tournament, on Sunday morning, Cody & I did a little extra walking around and came home with a bag full of bottles!! $3.50 worth!!
    To “power-charge” this little e-savings account, I have a modest amount transferred from my chequing account on a weekly basis. I never even miss it!

    • We have a bunch of pretty serious bottle collectors in our neighbourhood. Seriously – they even go in the recycling bins on garbage day and take peoples cans and bottles out. So it is rare that we find a bottle. But I love the idea. It does make us think we should be bringing the cans to the recycle machine and getting that change!

      Mom and Dad have Canada Savings bonds that go towards that “power-charge”. But more on that in another post.

  3. I love this idea! We have 3 piggy banks. One in the bedroom, one in the kitchen and one in the laundry room. They are too small though! I like your big silver piggy banks. And like the competitive game between bipeds. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have a piggy bank, but it’s for loonies and toonies only!!!! It goes up pretty fast. I try to spend my small change since it can get heavy. We also used to have a “penny jar”. We cashed it in last year and had over $260 in there in pennies alone!!! But my best way of saving was with Canada Savings Bonds through work. Didn’t even see the money in the first place, so it was really easy. That’s how I paid for my pool!!!! Alas… have not been working for 2 years now, so no real savings for me right now. :-( But I like the competition you guys have going, will be fun to see who wins!!! Hmmmm… should we be betting on this? :-)

    • OMG’s Roxane what a fun idea … maybe you all should place some bets! LOL!! Mom and Dad also do the Canada Savings Bonds. Those are so great. Hope you are back at work soon. HUGS! (and tail wag to Pepito!) So … who are you betting will win?

      • After reading this… I think mom will win! she sounds very competitive! :-)

  5. Cheers to saving!

    I don’t have much to add to the change discussion, as my tactic has mostly been to get credit cards with rewards systems and use said rewards (mostly for Amazon.com) to save on or get free supplies.

    (I’m currently in the process of saving up rewards for a free camera/video camera, which I expect to have before I take off for Europe again in early 2013.)

    As far as saving for actual travel goes, I mostly just live as frugally as possible, giving up things like cable TV, smart phones, grande coffees (mmm, I miss you grande coffee!), and movie theater excursions in favor of having more moolah when it comes time to attend an Italian opera. :)

    • We hear you Gigi and we will be writing a post on that very subject (frugality) very soon! Something we have not looked into are the reward systems on credit cards because we find we save more when we stay with a “cash only” system. Maybe we just can’t be trusted with credit cards? I don’t know. But we always go over budget when we use credit. We just don’t have the discipline. So kudos to you!

  6. We find you so amazing and so very wise oh Mighty chi!
    We are in plan mode the plan is saving up and we go to Canada and meet you and your bipedes ,the thing is the opportunity is either we do it when we off to USA in March or later in the year when and if your bipedes have time,however in so far the Irish government is changing things here ,things are ugly so we may not going to USA in March but instead saving a few months more we could do a grand trip for Canada. the Victor is Psyched !! money here is a chimera as Ireland has sank and we are all scared ,though is what cannot be fixed is what is ,so we may as well squander from ourselves and plan a good treat that we sure deserve that is the way I see it.don’t know if Im right but at this point in this country no one knows,so we will meet you next year as we plan with your mom with your lovely Caramel ears and a long overdue kiss I plan to give you xxx

    • AWE!!! You just let us know when and we will be home to welcome you and Victor! We have some small trips planned but nothing is booked for the fall. If you want to be amazed … then October is the time! 2nd week … the leaves will take your breath away! Still warm but not hot. :)

  7. We do something similar, but with a pickle jar. I started tossing extra change into an old, large pickle jar we had. Now, we toss ALL coins, as well as the occasional paper money — $5 here and $10 there — as well. And I paste a picture of whatever we’re currently saving for on the jar for motivation. (Right now, it’s a tiny house in the Bahamas that we’ve just bought and now have to pay for.) Amazing how the money adds up, and you don’t even miss it. I usually cash in the pickle jar at the end of each year, and we have somewhere between $300 and $400 dollars! This year, I’m expecting to have a lot more, because I’ve been tossing in more bills than usual.

    • I LOVE how I keep finding people that are doing this! Adding the picture is BRILLIANT!! love it! I think with two people competing … well who knows how much we will raise. We are hoping to maybe … cover airfare?

  8. Pingback: Saving for Long Term Travel – Frugality and Focus! | Montecristo Travels

  9. That is a great idea I have a jar I throw money into but I haven’t in a while because I’m always using my bank card…Time to start spending cash and cash only! Thank you! :)

    • You are most welcome! It might take a little longer than you would like but at least it will happen! Is Cuba ready for you?

  10. Great post!! I love this idea! I have a separate travel fund where money does NOT come out- ever- unless its for a trip or during a trip. I try and put away as much as possible for travel funds. Because I’ve been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of traveling, that’s enough motivation for me to save for travel! If I can only put away say $25 from a pay check, I remind myself how far $25 can go in some countries!

    I might try getting a Piggy though, because my loose change tends to fall to the bottom of one of my many handbags and I find it months later when I need to change bags lol!

    • try it! I find there is GREAT fun in hearing the Clink Clink Clink of the coins…

  11. What a great idea! We would be “feeding the junk drawer” though as all our loose change goes into a bowl in that drawer. :-) But this is a great way to save!

  12. I LOVE this concept! My husband and have been saving like this for travel for about 5 years now. We took trips cross country and the piggy bank money paid for all our gas – & a few lattes along the way in a good year! However, I really like your idea to save separately and make a contest out of it! We currently pool all our change but I’m sure I save more than he does….. hmmmm.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Oh yeah split it up and winner gets to choose… it can get … well competitive. Last year a certain someone got money at Xmas and put his in th piggy! NOT fair!

  13. Sonja, great post. I remember saving like this when I was a teen and in my twenties. Had a super cute Piggy, too! :-) love making it a game and the sense of adventure and fun between you and “dad” that I feel in your writing. Cathy Armato, thx for sharing this!

  14. Great post! We have a big jug that we keep all of our spare change in, it’s the family jar. One day we hope to take a nice trip with it, dogs and all! :)

  15. It truly is amazing just how much we can save just by emptying our pockets of change, especially here in Canada with our Loonies and Toonies! What a great way to save for something special.

  16. I do the same thing! I pay with bills, toss the coins in my jar. When it’s time for a vacation, I cash in! Great way to save some extra money.

  17. I have a blue piggy bank that makes the sound of money LOL when I deposit and I empty my wallet at the end of each day in there, great way to save plus I do not use credit cards at all, only Debit which helps me stay out of debt:)

    So this is a brilliant idea and my piggy is emptied in the summer when I am not teaching that much so that I have that extra cash for fun things with Layla

    • It’s all about what you want your fun to be! We only have one credit card used ONLY when we travel – especially overseas.

  18. It’s a great idea and incredible how quickly the money adds up. I used to decide on a coin amount (loonies or twoonies when I lived in Toronto), and at the end of each day I would take all out of my wallet and put them in a jar. Easy and lucrative!

  19. I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone! I do the EXACT same thing to set money aside for our travel plans. Additionally, I have a tag sale each fall and spring where all of the money made is added to our travel fund. It helps us to declutter and to make some money.

    We sell refreshments at our tag sale, coordinate with neighbors, have contests for who can make the brightest signs for the town, and even accept credit card so folks don’t have to say “I would buy this but I don’t have cash.” The dogs have a kissing booth where visitors can pay a dollar for a smooch of the pooch! That money gets donated to our local shelter.

    Thanks for sharing this and I hope you have amazing new adventures on all of your future travels!

    • Is a tag sale like … a garage sale? We sell stuff online (we have Kijjiji here – kinda like Craigs list in the US). There are so many ways. What makes this fun is the competitive element you know?

  20. Great ideas. I like to use average size mason jars that fill a little bit easier and then empty them into a much bigger container that I can’t see the money in. I was shocked when I had $200 and never felt like I was withholding. Glad your mom quit smoking, furry one.

  21. My husband’s pay goes into our checking account and my pay goes into our savings account. The latter pays for dreams. We’re not allowed to touch what goes into savings except for emergencies and dreams. :-)

  22. We have a change jar but it mostly gets used for incidentals. And I don’t use cash very much so it’s mostly the boyfriend’s change. We’ll have to think about doing a piggy bank!

  23. This is a great idea, but honestly I’m so obsessive I always have to count out exact change in a store when I have it so I don’t come home with a lot of change. Any extra toonies get spent on lotto tickets – yup.
    However, I have been writing down everything I buy each week to try to keep to a budget and turns out that really helps curtail impulse spending.
    And my favourite first world problem: I too signed up for the Canada Savings Bond dedication at work but didn’t know it (or forgot or something) and just got a letter in the mail that I have $1200 saved I didn’t know about. BlogPaws Conference here I come!

  24. Love this game – and you are right, it’s simple fun! We take for granted how much money we spend and without thinking dispose of it. But, once you really make things fun or even a challenge, it’s startling how much money you can save. I’ve been playing this piggy game at work since 2009, just pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Each time my piggy gets full I put it in a bigger container at home. I took it to the bank to deposit and was shocked how much money was in it – score! Great ‘travel funding’ idea!

  25. What a great idea! I love that photo of you and piggy banks! So, which biped won the first year, and what destination was chosen?

    We have a container for change, but we mostly used our debit cards, so it isn’t filling that quickly.

    One of my friends always pays with cash because she says it makes spending feel real. I might have to give it a try.

    You are right about everything being easier if you make a game of it. We used to do that with our kids and their chores. Of course, I learned it from the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series when I was a kid.

  26. Love the gamification concept! How true, if it is fun, we tend to want to do it! We have a large water cooler jug we use, however, it has somehow wound up in the laundry room (and although there is still a lot of copper layers of pennies, I know it has been robbed!) and not used for saving any more. I like the idea Montecristo above wrote about putting it near the front door. Now that just might work! What I do do is in my vehicle, I have a large purse in my glove box. Each time I go through a take out or stop in a store and purchase something with case, the change goes into the purse and stays in the car so one day, if we need coffee or lunch money, we have it! Great post! Pinning to $hare!

  27. This is a great idea – it does all add up! We have little stashes of change all around the house. My husband comes home and empties his pockets here, there, and everywhere! I will have to buy myself a piggy!

  28. Super idea. I take all my change every time I have it and put it into a big container. After one year, I had over $500. I was thrilled.

  29. I did this when I was saving to move to Nyc.
    I saved over £2000 from change.
    I also had a piggy bank which had to be smashed in order to get the money out otherwise I would have spent it lol

  30. I always loved to ‘feed the piggy’ when I was a kid, except it was an elephant the symbol of the local savings bank. I like the rules you’ve added though to make saving a bit more fun.

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