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Never too young to start a savings habit

David Hayles, Hinckley & Rugby Building Society, reflects on starting to save at an early age.

When I was a child, the last Saturday of the month always started with a bike ride to the post office. I’d walk in anxiously clutching my savings book, pockets bulging with coins. There’d be pocket-money residue, rewards for chores, and the proceeds of a gruelling 6am newspaper round. Sometimes there’d also be tips from Bob-a-Job Week, or fivers from Christmas or birthday cards.

Then the thrill of seeing the new, bigger number in my savings book. There’s nothing quite like the joy of watching your savings grow line by line on the printed page.

For many children today, pocket-money appears magically on an app. Brilliant though they are for helping kids learn how to manage money, it’s hard not to hark back to the sweet sound made by 75p tinkling coin by coin into my eager outstretched hand.

For my grandson, the floppy post office savings book of my youth has been replaced by a robust Hinckley & Rugby one. He may get his pocket money digitally, but chores are always rewarded in cash. As I once did, he hops onto his bike once a month and heads off to town. I met him there one Saturday morning a few months ago. It was heartening to see the same gleam in his eye when, with a beaming smile, one of the lovely team at his local branch handed back his passbook, and he stared at the new, bigger number.

It was his idea to save the cash from his chores. He got the idea from a book that I had surreptitiously left on his bed one day. The book is called How Roommates Became Savers – a rhyming children’s picture book created to teach the value of saving. It tells the delightful story of woodland animals who learn to save for their own forest home; a charming adaptation of the Society’s own origin story.

Having taken the book to school to show his friends, he soon found himself no longer cycling alone to his local branch on those Saturday mornings. They descend as a pack, superhero backpacks jangling with chore-money, keenly jostling for the counter with its sea of smiling faces, eager for that new, bigger number. They have their own copies of the book now, of course, free when they opened their Hinckley & Rugby Young Saver accounts.

Now, four months after the free book was launched during UK Savings Week, my youngest grandson has his own copy. He loves the story with its colourful pictures and rhyming lines, but aged just three he is perhaps a little young to understand it. Or is he? Perhaps the bag of sweets equally divided between his lap and his own little piggy bank tells its own story.