Paper Mache Piggy Bank

In the last post I told you about some of the ways you can scrape up some extra money to get you started saving. I also mentioned that the coins and extra cash you manage to gather should be collected in a piggy bank (one that has to be broken to open!)

I want to take a minute now and explain why I feel a paper mache piggy bank is the best option.

COST. This is probably the first reason I would choose a paper mache piggy bank. It's cheap to make. If your goal is to save money (and it should be!) then to spend money to buy a piggy bank that will be broke in the end seems counterproductive.

EASE & FLEXIBILITY. It's easy and you can make your piggy bank into whatever shape you choose, that's flexibility.

CHANGEABILITY. Is that even a word? My thinking here is that if you change the color or style of your bedroom (where I presume you will be keeping your piggy bank) you can change the color of your piggy bank to match.

So there your have it - the 'why's' of building a paper mache piggy bank.

Now for the 'how's'.

STEP 1 : CONSTRUCT YOUR SHAPE
Give some thought to the finished shape of your piggy bank. Do you want a traditional pig? A star? Ball? Face? Remember you will have to break your piggy bank open to get at the money so simple is usually better - unless you have lots of time on your hands.

A balloon makes an excellent body. Blow it up to the size you want. Now using other materials (such as cardboard, paper cups, etc.) construct the features (legs, head, etc.) and tape them to your balloon. At this point it's not going to look like much, just get the general framework done.

STEP 2 : MAKE YOUR PAPER MACHE PASTE
Mix equal amounts of warm water and white flour together with a whisk until you have a very smooth batter (similar to a pancake batter.) Add more water or flour as necessary. **It is important to have a very smooth batter. Set aside.

Cut strips of old newspaper about 1 inch wide by 7 inches long. The actual size really doesn't matter as long as you can work with it easily without it wrinkling or folding over on itself.

STEP 3 : PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
This is the messy part so make sure you have enough room. Take one strip of paper and slide to through your flour mixture. Pull the paper through two fingers to remove some of the batter. Now place the wet paper on your frame. Keep adding wet papers until you have covered your frame evenly no more than two layers deep. Mold the papers so that your piggy bank begins to take on the shape you planned.

Now let your creation dry for at least a day. It's important that it dries thoroughly between applications of paper so that it won't rot.

Every day or so, (depending upon how long it takes to dry) apply another layer or two or paper. The more layers you add, the stronger your bank will be. You may need to add extra layers at stress points (where the legs attach to the body, etc.) so your piggy bank won't break when it gets heavy with coins.

When you feel you have enough layers then you need to add a white paper layer for the final layer. I use white paper because it covers the ink from the newspapers and it is less likely you'll have newspaper showing through your paint covering. The white layer needs to be as smooth as possible to make the finishing steps easier.

STEP 4 : DECORATING & FINISHING TOUCHES
As soon as the white layer is dry you can start decorating your piggy bank. Use whatever you want. Colored crepe paper, glitter, jewels, paint - the sky is the limit. Be creative.

When your decorating is complete all that is left to do is put a hole in the top big enough to drop your coins through. Do this with a sharp knife. Don't put any other holes in the bank (don't put a hole in to get the money out!)

Congratulations! You just made the most important tool in your financial management toolbox. The Piggy Bank.