He's single, he's an Aries, and he enjoys football, classic movies, ballroom dancing, golf, and ... BBQ?
That's an odd choice for Benjamin Bankes, the "smartly dressed, adult-sized pig" who will be appearing in public service announcements to cajole young adults, ages 25 to 34, to save more money.
The big pig is meant to evoke childhood memories of dropping nickels and dimes into a piggy bank.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ad Council, who are working together in this project, hope the dose of nostalgia will get more young consumers to skip the plasma TV purchases and become young savers.
After all, you may be better off filling an IRA with newfangled stocks like Google
Alas, most young adults aren't making that sensible choice; perhaps they could use some advice from a well-tailored, life-size, and slightly creepy pig. Benjamin Bankes' website (turn the volume on your computer down if you don't want to hear the oinking in the background) paints a bleak picture of his targeted age group:
- Their average credit card debt is $4,088.
- Their average student loan debt is $20,000.
- They spend 24% of their income on debt payments.
- They have the nation's second-highest rate of personal bankruptcy.
A study commissioned by the accountants' group also showed that the proportion of young adults with a simple savings account fell from 61% to 48% from 1985 to 2004. Over the same time period, the median net worth of adults in that age group has fallen dramatically, from $6,788 to $3,746.
This means lots of young adults are missing out on one of the biggest advantages of saving while they're still young -- the advantage of time. Several thousand dollars put away early will grow exponentially greater than several thousand stashed away a decade later. It may feel more painful to save now, but your older and wiser self will appreciate it.
What's the pig's advice? Well, among his ideas, he urges tech-savvy young adults to use their online calendars or PDAs to create savings goals and reminders. His website (he has a MySpace page, too) has some nifty calculators to help you figure out how to pay off credit card debt. One adds up just how much money you can lose by procrastinating about saving.
Some of his advice is decidedly old-school, like urging young hipsters to familiarize themselves with dinner leftovers and library cards. And some sounds like advice your parents probably give you -- stop smoking and make your morning coffee at home.
Pig out on further Foolishness:
Take charge of your financial future with expert help from Fools Dayana Yochim and Shannon Zimmerman. Our new Motley Fool GreenLight service provides personal finance advice tailored for every age group, from recent grads to retirees. Try it free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple senses her cool-o-meter rating slipping when a big pig has a MySpace page and she doesn't. She doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned and welcomes your feedback.