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Pocket money

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 18 April 2008
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Is pocket money a good idea? How much should you give your children? All parents ask themselves these questions... here's a quick guide.

Should I give my children pocket money or not?
There's no law on giving children pocket money, so it's up to you whether you decide to or not. Even in our money-driven world, you don't have to provide your child with extra, though handling money is good for children as it teaches them the value of money (whether it be regular pocket money, money they receive for their birthday, cash gifts from family members or money put into a savings account for them by grandparents). Customs vary from country to country: in northern Europe, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg, children tend to receive pocket money from an early age, while further south, in Spain and Italy, kids tend to receive money on special occasions rather than on a regular basis. In the UK, 86% of kids receive regular pocket money from their parents.

At what age should I give my children pocket money?
There's no point in giving children money if they don't understand what it means! Give a five-year-old a coin to go and buy some sweets every now and then, but nothing more. Don't start giving your children pocket money before they can count and before they're able to understand a bit about the relationship between money and what you can buy with it. If they can't add or subtract yet, forget it. Start giving your children a small sum of money when they're 7 or 8 years old, or otherwise wait until they ask for pocket money themselves!

How much should I give?
It depends on how old your child is. According to a Halifax survey (carried out in 2006), the average weekly sum for pocket money is £6.30 for 7-12-year-olds and £9.76 for 12-16-year-olds. Take your budget into account, and explain to your child that their pocket money depends on how much you earn. Show them examples to illustrate what you mean, showing them your salary and your monthly household budget.

How do I organise pocket money?
- Be clear with your children from the start about when they will get their pocket money (every Wednesday, for example) and how much they will get, and stick to it (if you don't keep your word, how can you expect them to keep theirs?!).
- Explain the rules to them: pocket money is theirs to use however they want, but they won't get any more than the agreed sum and they won't get it in advance.
- Encourage them to put a bit of money to one side to save for something they really want.
- Ban your teenagers from buying dangerous goods with their pocket money (cigarettes and alcohol), or else you'll stop it.
- Don't give your children money for getting good grades (schoolwork shouldn't be paid any more than household chores should be - it's normal to expect your children to do their schoolwork and help you with the housework!). However, you could give your children a bit of extra money for special jobs such as painting.

Tips

- Don't stop your children from buying something silly or useless with their pocket money. Let them make their own mistakes and learn from them (unless what they want to buy is dangerous, that is!).
- Increase the amount every year.
- Make it clear what you buy your children (clothes, school materials, books, etc) and what they buy with their pocket money (extra games for the Playstation, new roller blades, sweets, toys and gadgets).
- When you go shopping, make your children read the price tags, compare prices with them, explain the cost of living to them and show them how to spend their money wisely.

What if my child doesn't want pocket money?!
It's rare for children to refuse pocket money, but they may do if they aren't mature enough and are worried it's too grown up for them. Don't force them into taking it! If your child is too young, there's no hurry. Wait until they ask you to buy them sweets or a toy and explain that with pocket money they can buy things for themselves. Explain that pocket money is for big boys and girls. A small amount will be enough for them to handle.

by Sarah Horrocks

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