Make pocket money work

Published: Saturday 25th April 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (3)

There are many reasons for giving or withholding pocket money – but if you do choose to dole it out, do it wisely.

Give it as a treat, withhold it as a punishment, use it as a learning tool, reward with it for completed chores.

Reasons for giving pocket money vary widely – and many parents don’t give it at all.

While one recent study suggested that only half of British parents pay their children pocket money, new research has found that although just one in three preschool children get a small allowance, by the age of seven the majority of kids (87%) are receiving pocket money.

The research, by the thinkmoney banking service, discovered that seven-year-olds receive, on average, £3.71 a week, or £193 a year. Allowances increase when a child goes to high school, and the average 13-year-old receives £8.13 a week. By the time they reach 16, children typically receive more than £10 a week, or £534 a year.

“Pocket money is a good way for children to understand the value of money and to get the budgeting habit early,” says thinkmoney spokesman Ian Williams.

“Parents can use pocket money as a reward for their child helping around the home or for great behaviour. And of course, parents should lead by example and only give what they can comfortably afford.”

Indeed, separate research by the money-saving brand found that 46% of parents don’t give pocket money to their children, with nearly half of them saying it was because they couldn’t afford it.

In addition, 42% of those who didn’t give their kids an allowance said they preferred to control their child’s spending.

Some mums and dads felt financial matters should be left to the kids themselves, with 20% saying they wanted their children to earn their own money, and another 13% insisting pocket money was unnecessary.

However, three quarters (76%) of the parents who didn’t pay pocket money admitted their children complained about it.

Agony aunt Suzie Hayman, a trustee of the parenting charity Family Lives, explains that parents will usually either look at pocket money as cash for kids to spend how they like, or as part of the budget that children are responsible for.

“I would very strongly advise that even from a very young age when you’re giving children money for treats, you still say that some should be put aside for things like buying presents at Christmas, or saving up for things they really want,” she says.

“As soon as you start handing over money, you should be handing over responsibility and the ability to start thinking about choices and priorities. Use it as a learning experience.”

She says that while this parental attitude should start when children are very young, certainly by the time children are at secondary school, parents should make it clear that pocket money is to pay for certain things, having discussed these responsibilities with the child.

The alternative, says Hayman, is the parents who want to use money to have more control over their child, by making them ask for whatever they want.

“What that leads to,” she warns, “is arguments between parents and children.

“I wonder whether this is part of a move towards parents micromanaging their children’s lives. But it’s not helpful in all the other areas they do it in, and it’s not helpful in this area either.”

As well as causing conflicts, this approach means children aren’t learning to make decisions.

As for doing chores to receive pocket money, Hayman says there are certain things children should do in the house because they live there, such as keeping their room tidy, doing the dishes etc. But there may be extra jobs, like washing the car or mowing the lawn, that parents might want to negotiate payments for.

Overall, Hayman stresses that it’s important for children to understand their parents have a budget, with money coming in and money going out, and it’s only what’s left – if anything – that’s available for what the family wants, rather than needs.

She adds: “Think about what you’re saying by giving your child money, and what you want them to do with it. Is it just for treats, or do you think you should be using it as a learning experience, as a way to help them learn to manage in the future, realising they can’t have everything they want and money has to be earned.”

Copyright Press Association 2015

Published: Saturday 25th April 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (3)
  • As a child I did not know what pocket money was, when I was born around 1945 money was not a commodity that was common to anyone.

    Yes thing then were much less costly, like going to the pictures on a Saturday morning, but that did not mean that I got cinema money easily, even so money was earned in meagre wages anyway.

    I earned every penny given because I had without choice to do the washing-up and occasionally the vacuuming along with many other household tasks.
    I am absolutely certain that those chores set me up in later life to enable me to fend for myself, I cooked at the age of eleven years old and regularly cooked my dad and mum their Sunday breakfast.
    All kids should have responsibilty about the home, they should be taught to help and support their parents and any other siblings, sharing the small tasks as a matter of routine and not to feel as if they are being used in any way.
    Start including them in the general run of the home from a time when what you ask them to do is safe for them to do, and they will get used to the upkeep of the home, perhaps even appreciating that keeping things clean and tidy helps them too.
    A serious mistake is to give too much to youngsters were they don’t ever realise how money has to be earned, that takes away the idea of values and makes them unaware of the importance of buying what is needed rather than what is wanted.
    Another thing it will teach is value for money and not having too much will mean that they seek out bargains and become very much more price aware.

    • Dell English

      I so agree with you I was born 1945 too,my children all was bought up same as myself they could you all cook as well,i was told I shouldn’t let them do all these things,there came a time I was ill and on my own with my children and the eldest took over looking after the others till I was well,i had a friend popping they all have their own families,,and know the value of money

      • People in general seem to have lost those old values and practices, but those ways did set the younger generations up for life, giving independence and satisfaction because they were able to do thing for themselves.
        In turn younger people did have a greater idea of what it took to look after and keep a home, when they have families of their own they could simply move to that new circumstance seamlessly.
        It was never heard of where new parents had a need for classes and lessons to educate them in the ways of domestic and child welfare practices.
        It is clear to me and I believe to many that present day education is simply not enough, that education should also be extended to the home and that a parent/s should should play a greater part than they seem to do at the moment.

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