Life

Kids and Money: Some thoughts on pocket money

Published on October 19, 2015 7:39 am, by

You know when I was young(er) pocket money wasn’t such a big deal.  I was one of 5 kids, and every week we got 50 cents each and 50 cents went in our bank account.  Fast forward 30 years and there is a certain helplessness some parents feel at where and when to start.

For me it’s been about teaching our kids about the value of money.  It can be difficult in the world we live in.  My kids know what to expect but they are surrounded by children who are given lots of money each day to get through their tuck-shop purchases, after school nibbles and a stop at Starbucks.

We’ve always taken our lunch to work and school.  Tuck-shop is a birthday treat.  If the kids want to save their money and spend it on food it’s up to them.  So how do you keep it real for your kids?  What do you say?  And how do you decide what works best for you?

WHEN: We started when the kids began to ask for money to do things.  We figured that’s when we had to teach them that there wasn’t a never-ending supply and just because they want something, it doesn’t mean they should have it given to them.

HOW: We’ve tried a few different methods, my favourite, though somewhat time consuming was to have a green & red chart.  If they did the things in green money got added and if they didn’t do the things in red money was subtracted.

For example –

Green – cook a meal $5, bake for snacks $2, hang out washing $1
Red – make your bed $1, clean your teeth $1, have an untidy room on Saturday morning $2

This worked wonderfully when they were younger, but now they are 15, 12 and 9 we have moved on.

The 15 year old doesn’t get pocket money.  She now babysits and teaches piano.  She still needs to contribute to the family though, so does her own washing and cooks once a week amongst other things.

The 12 year old cooks once or twice a week at $5 a pop.  He’s also expected to clean up the breakfast dishes each morning and hang out the odd load of washing as his contribution to family sanity.

The 9 year old asks for chores in line with what things she thinks she has to have.  For example Anh Do’s latest book Weirdo 5 is in the school book club catalogue for $10.  So if she gets through a list of chores before it’s due she can have it.  Something like this – vacuum the car $2, vacuum the house $2, hang out washing $1, change her bed sheets $1, bake a cake $2.  We give her the money as she goes, it becomes her decision whether she spends it at the tuck-shop or keeps it for the book.

We think it’s important that the kids learn to work in exchange for money or material goods.  We talk about money a lot, and they have some understanding of what contributes to high electricity bills, how much we spend on rent, groceries and other things.  They also know that if we want to go on a holiday we’re probably going to be careful about our money for a while.

So in regards to pocket money, I think do what’s right for you. But most importantly think about the values you want to teach your kids and the lessons that will help them in future when they are earning and spending their own money.

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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