Pre-K through 12th Graders Learn To Save with Piggy Bank Pageants

UT Extension Piggy Bank Pageant contestants, like the one pictured above from Cadience in Lauderdale County from 2017, are judged and honored with statewide voting in April. Participants get to enjoy a fun art project while also learning about the importance and financial wisdom of saving. Image courtesy UTIA. 

How do plastic bottles, bits of string, paint, glue and ribbon help Tennessee kids learn about money? These are all materials that hundreds of kids across Tennessee use annually to craft handmade piggy banks to enter in the annual Piggy Bank Pageants conducted by University of Tennessee Extension. The contests, which begin locally, culminate in a statewide contest in April each year. The yearly contest attracts more than 2,000 handmade banks from kids age pre-K through 12th grade statewide.

“It’s always totally amazing to see how youngsters keep coming up with unique entries year after year,” says Dena Wise, UT professor and Extension consumer economics specialist, who coordinates the statewide effort. “Even after several years of these contest and thousands of entries, we still look forward to seeing what students come up with every year.”

Along with encouraging kids to enter hand crafted piggy banks in local competitions, UT Extension agents deliver lessons about the importance of making savings a habit. In 2017 alone, UT Extension agents and volunteers in 29 counties across Tennessee devoted 1,437 hours to teaching youth the importance of saving and financial responsibility through Tennessee Saves youth programs. They generated more than 30,000 educational contacts, with an estimated total increase in youth savings of a half million dollars.

Wise is confident that the programs make a solid impact on the financial knowledge and behavior of young people. After Extension youth programs about the importance of savings, more than 85 percent of evaluation survey respondents reported learning the difference between wants and needs, becoming more aware of the importance of starting to save and invest early in life, and feeling more confident that they could build wealth. After three month follow-up surveys, more than 90 percent reported making a change in a financial behavior as a result of participating in the programs.

“We just can’t underestimate the importance of teaching young people the necessity of saving money,” says Wise. “Young people who make saving a regular habit early in their lives have a real head start on achieving financial security as an adult.”

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service.​.



Dena Wise, UT Extension, 865-974-8198,​