A long, long time ago, I had an aged aunt who used to walk us to the local post office every week.
Every week we would use some of our less-than-hard-earned pocket money to purchase 5p savings stamps which would be proudly placed in little green books.
My aunt was trying to instil in us an appreciation for the virtues of savings. Put some money away and get awarded with interest.
Pity today's parents.
Apart from the very obvious point that putting money in a financial institution is safer than under the mattress, there is little reward for savers.
The average interest rate in Irish banks for new household deposits is 0.04%, according to the Central Bank.
So, if I left €100 on deposit for a year, I would be rewarded with the princely sum of 4 cent. Oh, and that’s before Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).
Try explaining that to the average eight-year-old flush with Holy Communion cash.
And today’s announcement from ECB President Mario Draghi leaves little hope on the horizon. We are living in strange monetary times.
The ECB’s job is to protect the financial system of the eurozone and to ensure that inflation stays around 2%. It’s currently languishing around 1%.
Think of inflation like a thermometer for the economy. When it’s high, there’s probably too much spending going on and things are getting out of control.
When it’s too low, it’s a sign that people aren’t spending very much at all. Worse, it might discourage companies from building new factories or developing new products because the future doesn’t look great.
So the ECB has tried to get money moving around the economy again. It does this through the banking system.
It has maintained its main lending rates at 0% and today it has decided to charge banks more for keeping deposits with the ECB. All of this is aimed at getting money out of banks and into the hands of consumers - through lending - who will hopefully start buying things.
If only it were that were simple.
Sometimes people can’t afford to borrow. Sometimes the thing they want to buy - like a house - is too expensive.
So sometimes, everything that can possibly be done to make money available is done but nothing happens. And what happens then?
Mario Draghi at several points today reiterated a key message. He said he was concerned and worried about the "side effects" of the ECB’s monetary policy on savers and pensioners. He said it was time for the governments who could, to spend more.
Today in the bond markets, a small milestone was reached.
The National Treasury Management Agency raised a new ten-year bond of €1 billion on behalf of the State at a negative rate for the first time. That means investors are paying the Irish Exchequer to loan us money.
Things were much simpler when we had savings stamps.