Pocket money can be the cause of many arguments; as children list the names of friends that get more than they do or look for ways to earn more. We spoke to parents to ask how they set pocket money, and if or how they monitor what their child buys…Chores: Some parents allow their children to earn extra pocket money by doing chores, especially if they are saving up for something special. However, do make sure you are not paying for chores you would expect them to do anyway – any chores they get more pocket money for should be above and beyond what they are usually expected to do around the house. Remember to set a limit of how much extra they can earn or make it a one-off opportunity – clear boundaries will ensure you remain in control of what you give them.
Try not to overcompensate for a recent separation, or bereavement with more pocket money. Non-resident parents say it is a trap they were aware of as they deal with the guilt and sadness of not seeing their children every day, or of not knowing how to entertain the kids when they do see them. Keep reminding yourself that your children love you, and that the time you spend with them is worth more than the money you give them.
If you have a separated or extended family make sure you are all on the same page. Grandparents may well feel they have a right to spoil their grandchildren but make sure this doesn’t undermine your decision if you have said no. Warn relatives if you are dealing with pester power at the moment and explain how you are helping your child to learn the value of long term financial planning.
You may want to monitor what your children spend their pocket money on. For example, if you’re managing a healthy diet for the family, you may want to encourage your children to buy things like magazines, CDs, DVDs or toys instead of chocolate and sweets.
Within these boundaries, however, it’s important to let your children have a degree of control in how they choose to spend or save their money, so that they can begin to learn its value.
“My kids never really valued how much toys cost and just thought my credit card was endless. Now that they manage their own pocket money they think twice before they buy something and often reject something because they don’t think it’s worth the money. It has cut down the pester power in my house!”
If your child wants extra money to buy something special, you may choose to allow them to borrow from next week/month’s pocket money.. This can be a viable idea if the item is likely to be unavailable by the time they have saved for it, but try not to let it become a regular habit.
“If my children do their homework without a fuss and don’t get into trouble they know they will get a treat at the end of the week – a trip to the cinema or a pizza night.”
It’s worth thinking about special events such as holidays or days out. Encourage your children to save a little each week if you are planning a holiday so they have money to spend, and don’t have to pester you for more.
“We extend pocket money if we go away on holiday. We tell the kids how much they have before we go so they choose what to spend their money on. It also means we don’t get pestered every time we pass a souvenir or trinket shop.”
If your children give you the old ‘so and so gets more money than me’ line, don’t feel under pressure. Every family does things differently and, while talking to other parents may give you an idea of how much other children are getting, it doesn’t mean you have to match it. Your children may get less pocket money but it balances out with other things you provide for them. Stick to your own boundaries and only give them what you can afford, and what they need.