Unbreakable piggy banks help Calgary family save thousands

For the past decade, Trisha Skinner has been on a self-imposed saving regimen. 

It’s not complicated, but it gets the job done.

The Calgary mom has used a steel piggy bank that can only be opened by a welder to save thousands of dollars over the years. 

Now, Skinner’s kids are learning the same trick with piggy banks of their own, and learning something about the value of a penny saved.

Once the money goes in, there’s no way of getting it out, Skinner told the Calgary Eyeopener.

“You can be desperate for coffee and try to run that sucker over with your car, and you will not be able to get a toonie back,” she said.

Every time we fill one of the cans, it ranges from about $1,000 to $2,000 every time, depending on how many bills you put in, how many coins you put in,” she said, adding it takes about three years to fill the can.

“You can give the can a shake and kind of gauge how full it is, and if you can’t pick it up you know it’s time to get it open,” she said.

These unbreakable steel piggy banks were custom made by welder Landon Oostlander for family members. Oostlander grinds off the lids when the owner is ready to cash in their savings. (Trisha Skinner)

It all started years ago, when Skinner’s brother Landon Oostlander, a welder, made a sealed piggy bank for another sister to save her waitressing tips. It was a hit, and the welder started making unbreakable piggy banks as family gifts.

Skinner’s two children both have personalized vaults. 

Last week, Skinner’s seven-year old son Merrick took his bank to his uncle Landon to grind off the lid.

Inside, he had saved more than $1,000.

Merrick Skinner, 7, waits as his uncle grinds the lid off his steel vault to reveal a few years’ worth of savings. (Trisha Skinner)

For Skinner, it’s an important lesson in the value of saving, somehow more tangible than a bank balance.

“He was overwhelmed, because he didn’t understand the concept — when you put the money in the bank you never see it, it disappears and they forget about it,” she said.

“So watching him pour this can of money out, he was overwhelmed.”

After he got past the shock, Merrick bought himself a skateboard and some new winter boots.

Merrik Skinner saved more than $1,000 in his steel piggy bank. (Trisha Skinner)

Skinner says it’s a real life lesson that she plans to keep up with her children.

“I think they actually need to see money, they actually need to trade it for goods and services to understand how it works,” she said.

  • Listen to the full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener here:

With files from the the Calgary Eyeopener.

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