You could tell by their giggles and shouts of delight. For the children playing the game with their parents, the favorite part was the pig.
From the pig -- a lovable, pink talking piggy bank -- they absorbed important concepts about setting goals and savings that parents could reinforce at home.
I recently visited The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, a 3,800-square-foot, hands-on interactive exhibit at the Epcot theme park at
"Parents might learn a thing or two," said
At the Epcot exhibit, after choosing a dream goal -- from an extreme vacation or ultimate bedroom makeover to a college education or retirement -- guests are given a P.I.G. (Personal Investment Guide) and move on to three other interactive stations.
In the "Save It" area, children and parents work together on a touch screen to move their "savings" buckets to capture coins while trying to keep them away from "spending" buckets that would detract from their goals.
Next, in the "Inflation Race," they move levers to follow currents and capture falling coins before they've been reduced in value by the evil wolf's inflation machine.
Then, in the "Diversify" section, they spread their coins around hiding places, trying to avoid the wolf and learning the value of diversification, or not putting everything in one place.
Along the way, the talking piggy bank reinforces savings lessons to help them collect enough coins to reach their goal.
The "bum part," the P.I.G. says, is that investments sometimes lose money, and you have to watch out for the "inflation dude." Saving for a goal "sometimes is harder than it sounds," with all the temptations to spend the money from allowances and gifts on toys, candy, outfits and MP3 music files -- rather than the chosen goal.
Adults should listen up, too, particularly those who profess to have a savings goal but haven't even tried to figure out how much they need to put away each month for it, or who waste their money on useless "must-have" items. As important as saving wisely, staying ahead of inflation and diversification are, "one thing we found even more important than all of those was goal-setting," and then committing to that goal, Ritter said.
For parents, going through The Great Piggy Bank Adventure at Epcot or playing the online game with their children at home creates a shared experience that allows them to seize "teachable moments" to talk about good money habits -- and practice those habits themselves.
"Our goal was not just to create a great, fun online game for kids and their families, but also to do our best to help motivate conversations about the importance of setting goals and financial planning," said
Well, indeed. Julian, my 6-year-old grandson, played the online game and started talking about inflation, or how things tend to go up in price. Julian, watch out for the wolf!
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(c) 2010 Humberto Cruz