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27Sep 13

Children’s pocket money: Getting it right

The new school year is under way, bringing with it new teachers, new subjects, new extracurricular activities and the yearly pocket money negotiations – yes, I do mean negotiations! I think my children Tom and Mary gang up on me every autumn before we discuss pocket money for the next school year.  They always have plausible reasons why they deserve an increase!

But I am no push-over. I believe that pocket money has to be earned.  So I laid down some guidelines for my children from an early age.

Children's pocket money: Getting it right

Children’s pocket money: Getting it right

The language of pocket money

Children need to learn the language of money as early as possible, and pocket money is a useful starting point for teaching them about it. There are no hard and fast rules on when to introduce pocket money, but I began to give Tom and Mary a small weekly amount when they were 5 years old and starting school.

This money was so they could pay for the school bus with a bit extra included every so often so they could buy a comic or some sweets. Far from spoiling them, this made them realise they needed money to buy things from shops, and also helped them to think about budgeting from an early age. If their money ran out, there was no more until the next payment.

As my kids have grown older – Tom is now 10 and Mary 8 – they still receive weekly pocket money, but gradually I have taught them about the value of money. Both children have specific household chores to do to help me at home, and their pocket money reflects these responsibilities.

How much pocket money?

It is not easy to decide how much pocket money to give your children, but here are a few of my tips:

• Consider your family budget before you decide on an amount. I think it is better to be consistent with payments rather than have to cut back suddenly.

• Make it clear to your kids what you expect them to pay for out of their pocket money.

• If the pocket money is to cover school lunches and transport, it is a good idea to boost the amount once a month so your children can buy something extra.

• Take into account how much pocket money your kids’ friends receive as this gives you a rough indicator of the going rate.

• Negotiate within reason the price for the jobs your children have to do, and make the amount earned relate to the difficulty of the task.

What are your pocket money tips?

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