The Power of Small Change(s)


In “Can You Buy a Memory?” I recounted the story of one of my favorite childhood memories. As a child, I recalled buying a glass piggy bank with my allowance. This became a treasured item I used for years. At some point during my growing-up years, I gave it away.  Four years ago I was at a flea market and saw a piggy bank exactly like the one I had as a child. I brought it because it was a physical reminder of a happy memory. I  started putting “found” coins in it; that is, coins I found in the washing machine or dryer, on the ground, or anywhere they didn’t belong.  The point of that story was, yes, we can buy a memory, or at least we can buy something that reminds us of a happy memory, which is sort of the same thing.

When my piggy bank was full, I wanted to emphasize a secondary point: small change adds up. Consider the experience of putting coins in a jar or bank—later, we’re often surprised by the total value. But more importantly, extrapolating that truth to life, even seemingly unimportant small actions can add up significantly, both for ourselves and others.

Today I put the final coin in my bank, filling it to its maximum capacity, and perhaps a little beyond.



Next came the fun part: I emptied my bank and discovered the total monetary value of my small actions was $15.62.

It’s remarkable how seemingly small actions can accumulate into something significant. For example, $15.62 could buy me:

  • 6 Poppi Sodas: A refreshing treat for a week!
  • Hamburger and French Fries: A satisfying meal at the local take-out.
  • Two 5-pound bags of apples: A healthy snack option.
  • 4 gallons of milk: Essential for daily use.

The point is that “much” can come from “little.”

But this principle extends beyond coins in a piggy bank. Small acts of kindness, a friendly smile,  a heartfelt greeting card or a thoughtful phone call, can brighten someone’s day and make a difference.

“If you think you’re too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. – Bette Reese”

What will you do today to make a difference in your life or that of someone else?




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Comments (6)

  1. Donna Williams

    Karen, I recently shared a story with my son about an identical piggy bank. I was 12 years old and we lived just 4 blocks away from a departments store in downtown Fort Worth that sold the same piggy bank. My allowance at the time was 25 cents a week. I saw this piggy bank for 5 cents and knew I just had to have it. So I handed over the money and headed back toward home. Someone on the street bumped into me and my bag fell to the ground, shattering the bank into many pieces. It took only a few seconds of gathering up the shards and disposing of them to realize that I still wanted the bank, so I returned to the store and bought second one. This time, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, skinning my knee and breaking the second bank. Still not deterred (I am a Taurus and we ARE stubborn), I returned to the store and handed over another nickel for the third bank. I am sure it was a puzzlement for the clerk at the store. I managed to get this one home safely and for many years I used it, emptying it out just before it became too full to empty safely, usually to buy a new book. It became lost on one of our many moves and I have searched for many years for another one. I think a lot must have gotten broken since there was no home in the tummy to empty them. I am still searching and I hope you are able to enjoy yours for many years to come.

    June 14, 2024 at 3:59 pm
    • Donna, Thanks for sharing your story. I can just envision you turning around and going back to the store to replace the broken piggy bank. I’m a Taurus too. I think we are determined and perservere. 🙂 To tell the truth, the bank was so full it was really REALLY hard to get the coins out of the bank. I had no idea it would be difficult. I guess I never let my bank get full enough to have that problem. But… I was determined. With the help of a letter opener to guide the coins, I did get them out. But it took me 1.5 hours. 🙂 Yes, determined! Another truth, about 30 minutes in to the task, I did think about just breaking the little bank. I looked on Ebay to see if there were any there. They were some available, anywhere from $15 – 20. I decided I would just keep working on my $1 Flea Market Piggy Bank. But since you don’t have one, you might be willing to part with the money to buy that memory. Just type in “glass piggy bank” and you’ll see several there. 🙂 Let me know if you get one!

      June 14, 2024 at 4:10 pm
  2. Jay Pechman

    I remember these banks but I never wanted one because you had to break the bank to get the money out. That would have made me sad as a child because the piggy would have died. You know, I think I’m still that way. Now I would buy him as a knick knack and put him on a shelf as decor. Ha!

    June 15, 2024 at 2:04 am
    • If you didn’t fill the bank to overflowing, it was easy to get the coins out by just turning the bank upside down and shaking it. But having one of those plugs at the bottom that you could remove and let the coins fall out through a hole definitely would have been easier if you filled your bank too full. My bank is on a shelf in my bedroom, where I can see him and smile.

      June 15, 2024 at 6:22 am
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