How and when to introduce Pocket Money

April 24, 2018

Liam and I are awful with money. Dreadful in fact. So I’ve always wanted to give our children some sort of financial sense. I’ve been in debt to the point where you are using credit cards to pay off other credit cards and I would hate to think of my children having that sort of worry or stress hanging over them. We aren’t exactly well off now and in 14 years together, we still haven’t had a holiday but at least we manage to feed and clothe ourselves and get by. One day we will be much better off than we are now, but having been in debt, and come out the other side, I’m more determined to teach my children the value of money, when to spend it and when to save it.

Dexter will soon be turning 5 years old. He is often with me when I’m buying bread and milk and things and almost always asks for something so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to get him to appreciate having to earn money and that it doesn’t just appear in mummy’s purse. Liam and I have discussed giving him pocket money and we’ve both had ideas of how we would like it to go, but neither of us has had a 5-year-old before and so have never really thought about how we would approach it.

Spend or save?

We don’t just want Dexter to just get money with no real rhyme or reason. That’s not really teaching him anything. We are both in agreement that he should understand that it is something he has earned, in the same way that Mummy and Daddy have to go to work to earn money. We like the idea of separating it so that some can be spent and some can be saved. Some could even be put by for giving to charities or helping others in some way.  We also want to be able to advise him to spend it wisely but without completely controlling what he uses it for. If he wants to buy the odd sweet with it that’s fine, but hopefully, we’ll be able to point out that if he bought something else, he would get far longer to play with it or use it than the minute of pleasure from the sweets.

So after a bit of a chat, we’ve decided to give him perhaps £1 a week which would be based on him doing a few jobs. We haven’t set them in stone just yet and we won’t start until he turns 5 so we have a little while to work out the details but those jobs are likely to include feeding the cats, pairing up socks, and putting his own washing away. He has a money box already so he will be able to save some but we were thinking of perhaps getting him a wallet to keep the bits he can spend in. But, you know when, as a parent, you are about to enter the unknown territory and you wonder if what you’re thinking is the right way to go about something? Yeah, well we wanted to check we were sort of level to what others were thinking. I mean, to a degree, we would just do it our own way anyway but I didn’t want to miss anything so I asked a few bloggers/parents for their opinions. I was curious to see what others did and how they managed it and I got some interesting answers.

Dexters money pot.

Hannah – Budding Smiles said “Toby has been having the odd few pence from age 3.5, when he does helpful things around the house or for someone. It’s not a structured thing and when he gets pennies they go into his piggy bank (he currently says he’s saving for a diamond, previously it was for a holiday!). We don’t withhold money, it’s more that he needs to earn it, and we’ve explained that Mummy and Daddy work to earn money so he’s doing the same”

Lucy – HelloBeautifulBear  said “Lily recently turned 3 years old and we’re looking to start giving her small amounts when she helps around the house but I’m keen to find a balance between showing her the way the world works and her helping without any pocket money too because it’s kind to help others. I wouldn’t ever withhold pocket money as a punishment either as we only do direct consequences and I think if she’s helped as promised then I need to keep up my end of things! I would let her spend it on anything she wants so long and it’s safe and age-appropriate.”

Vi – Dancing in my wellies said My eldest gets £5 a week, he’s 9 and has to do his “jobs” to get the pocket money. He has set jobs which he always does (e.g. let the chickens out in the morning) It’s his money and he’s saving up for a new games console. I try to let him spend it how he wants to but I will intervene to remind him if he spends £5 on a magazine he has nothing left all week and further from his goal. I want him to learn that it’s a nice feeling to save money and buy the thing you want rather than just buy whatever instantly.

Jaymee – The Mum Diaries said “I don’t give my boys pocket money but if there is something they want that costs more than £20 they have to earn it. We come up with a list of jobs and I price them up. Last year the boys wanted something that cost £50, they earned £25 and I paid for the other half.
Anything under £20 then it is purely down to if I have the money and how their general behaviour has been.”

Cathryn – CardifMummySays said  “My children have all had pocket money since they were really young – around age two for my daughter, my eldest, and her brothers were younger than that.
We started giving it to her after a meltdown in the supermarket over buying her a toy. She was so upset when I said no – and it got me thinking that she had no say over being able to have new things unless I was feeling generous. She’s always been bright so we explained the concept of pocket money to her and told her she could have £1 a week. She started saving up and bought the toy she wanted and was so proud handing over all her money at the till.
All three of them are really good at saving up and have made big purchases – Lego, Sylvanian Families, Hot Wheels etc. They have sometimes gone against my advice and bought cheap toys etc that have broken and they’ve been upset. Or then realised it will take them longer to buy the big thing they want. But I want them to make those mistakes now while they are young and to learn those lessons before they are adults. I had a friend when I was in my 20s who was so bad with money and really in debt so it’s been important to me to encourage financial responsibility in my children while they are young.”

 

I think after seeing how other people are doing it, we’re heading down the right track. Having come from a dark money place, it is imperative to me that we give our kids the best understanding we can so that they’re able to start making good financial decisions… Even if those decisions are between wanting a sweet now or waiting a week and having enough for a toy!

Now I’m not saying this is the ultimate ‘parents guide to pocket money‘ but I guess some important tips to remember would be:

  1. Help them understand that pocket money is something that they can earn. If they do jobs, chores or are generally helpful, they earn money. If they don’t, they won’t. In the same way that If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid.

 

2. Encourage saving. Show them that by not spending immediately, they are able to get bigger or better things. or something they really, really want.

 

3. Try not to take it away as punishment. If we went to work, we would expect to get paid. If your child has completed the jobs they are set, still, give them their money. Hold up your side of the deal and find other ways to manage their behaviour.

 

What would you add? Have you started giving pocket money yet? I’d be interested to know how it works in your house.

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