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My children are starting to get to that age now where they often want to buy things or ask for money, and we’ve been thinking about when it’s appropriate to start giving pocket money. There are so many things to think about though! What age should I give my child pocket money? How much pocket money should they get?
Do we just give it freely or should it be linked to doing chores or have other limitations? It’s a minefield!
What is pocket money?
There are two main dictionary definitions for what is pocket money. The first is:
‘Pocket money is money which children are given by their parents, usually every week.’
The second says:
‘Pocket money is a small amount of money which you earn, and which you can use for buying things that you want.’
So according to its very definition pocket money can either be given, or earned.
The benefits of giving pocket money
- The main benefit of giving pocket money, is that it introduces children to the value of money.
- It teaches them about saving, and managing their money.
- Having a budget of their own can help them learn to prioritise and have more appreciation for the things they’ve saved for. It also encourages children to be more independent.
The potential downsides
- Children may start to think that being given money is a right
- It could be potential cause of conflict between children and parents
- They may associate good behaviour or helping with chores with monetary reward, and come to expect it.
With so many questions, and conflicting ideas, I asked some parent bloggers for their opinions and experiences with giving pocket money:
My children are 8 and 4 and they both get pocket money. We started giving pocket money around the time they started school (my 4 year old is starting in September and has just started getting it). We don’t ask them to do anything for it but think its a great way to give kids some independence and learn about the value of money. If she spends all her money as soon as she gets it she won’t be able to save up for a more expensive toy she wants etc. They now usually find something they want and then save up for it and love being able to buy something with their own money!
I started giving my daughter pocket money when she started school and I’ll do the same for my son. She gets £1 each Friday and looks forward to it. I want to teach her the importance of saving from a young age. She knows she has to save 3-4 weeks if she wants to buy a magazine and more if she wants spending money for a gift shop on a day out. I pretty much always give it to her and she saves it in a little purse, but if she’s really misbehaving then I will withhold it. I never had pocket money and was terrible with money when I hit age 18 getting into terrible debt. I want to teach my children to be more responsible if I can.
I am planning on giving pocket money. I will probably start once my little one becomes aware that others around her are getting it, and when she asks for it. I recall I must have got it about age 4, as I bought my first single. I will expect her to be doing helpful things about the house though.
How parents choose to give pocket money
From what I can tell, there seems to be two main groups of parents in regards to how they choose to give children pocket money. Those who think it’s best to give pocket money conditionally upon children completing chores, and those who don’t.
Rewarding children for helping around the house seems to be a pretty common basis for giving pocket money to children. The main reasons being that it teaches children to start to understand ‘working’ for their money, and also that it’s a good motivator to get children helping with chores.
We gave our now 8yo ‘jobs’ when she was really young (about pre-school age). They were only things like putting clothes in linen basket and putting her toys away every day. She had to tick a box on her job sheet when she’d done them and on the occasion when she chose not to, she didn’t tick the box or get her money. She soon learnt!
My son is 5 and currently he is given money to say thank you for helping out around the house. We have decided that he will start to get £1 a week when he turns 6. For now he hasn’t mentioned it and doesn’t seem to need to spend money.
We’ve discussed it because N wants to buy stuff. At the moment he gets sporadic ‘wages’ from helping on the farm. He’s now 7 and I agreed to pocket money on the basis of 3 basic things being done (morning routine of teeth, make bed and pjs under pillow), tidying up toys each evening, and clearing up plates and yoghurt pots he leaves around downstairs. Any extra jobs he does round the house he’ll get top up.
It’s going to be cheap for me as so far 2 weeks later he’s not doing the basic stuff. He’s done some extra but the basic still hasn’t been done.
On the other hand, a lot of parents like to keep pocket money unrelated to chores. Some people think that paying children for doing chores is unhelpful, because children should learn to help out around the house as part of their role as a member of the family. They believe paying pocket money for chores undermines a sense of family responsibility.
Amy is 7 and gets £2 a week. The money is a set amount and not connected to chores as I don’t believe in paying children to help within a family unit. It should be the done thing and not something they expect payment for.
My children get £5 a week each. They are expected to help in the home with chores each day but it is not linked to pocket money. I started at age 7. They need to learn to budget and I help them with this and I expect them to buy own comics/magazines
Other people have more unique ways of doing things, like this idea of a kindness chart:
My little ones 2&4 have a kindness chart where they can earn money by being kind, helpful and thoughtful. I don’t actually give them the money until we’re going shopping though!
My conclusion is, there is no right or wrong answer! You just have to figure out what works for you as a family, and what fits in best with your beliefs and values.