The Intricacies of Pocket Money

Pocket money can be such a tricky issue to navigate. As parents, you don’t want your children to simply start taking money for granted, and yet, your children are dependent on you for their personal needs. What amount of pocket money is right? What should children buy with their pocket money? Should they be made to earn it in the form of chores, or should they just be handed over a certain amount? If your children run out before they should, is it okay to replenish that amount?

So many questions, they make your head spin. Luckily however, the fact is that there is no one right answer to any of these. What works in one family might not for another. Answering these questions really depends on your own personal values, and what kind of values you wish for your child to inculcate. But let’s delve into some reasonable thoughts on this.

So, How Much Pocket Money Should One’s Children Receive?

The most obvious way to answer this question is by considering how old your child is. Many parents withhold on giving very young children pocket money. It’s common to start off with a small amount of money at the age of 5 or 6. Now, it is a good idea to sit your child down and carefully explain to them the concept of pocket money and the responsibilities associated with it. Be sure to communicate to your child that this means you regard them as old and trustworthy enough to take good care of the money.

It’s generally wise to assume that older children are going to need and want more things, and more expensive things at that. The pocket money you give your 8-year-old boy is not going to cut it with your 13-year-old daughter. Talk with your children and keep their needs and considerations in mind when making the decision of “how much”.

What Should Children Be Buying with Their Pocket Money?

This is a question that very much hearkens back to your style of parenting and belief system. If you do not believe that your children’s choices should be strictly monitored or controlled, you are likely to give your children more leeway in terms of purchase options. Other parents may disapprove of over the top spending or unnecessary and flashy purchases, and so create limits in terms of what and how much of it their children can buy. Still, others might expect children of a certain age to start contributing to their clothes and CDs. Whatever your decision, make sure your children have some degree of control over their pocket money. It goes a step towards legitimizing them as autonomous beings.

Of course, whatever your beliefs, it is important to create a sense of fiscal responsibility within your children. Even if your values don’t account for excessive frugality, explain to your children the dangers of being careless with their money. It’s up to you to build up that sense of responsibility, especially in younger children. And of course, it might be for the best to put some sort of cap on how much junk food you child can purchase in each time!

Should Pocket Money Be a Gift or Should Children Be Made to Earn It?

Again, this very much depends on your values. Do you think you have a responsibility towards your children’s personal needs? Or do you feel it is better to use pocket money to instill a strong work ethic within your children? One option could be a best of both worlds scenario: parents can give their children a set amount of pocket money each month, and supplement that with extra money in exchange for performing household chores. In the spirit of exclusivity and responsibility, you could always set the wages for each chore after collaborating with your children, making it a fairer process in their eyes.

Should You Replenish Pocket Money If It Has Run Out Before the Allotted Time?

Most parents set a certain amount per month that their child is expected to stay within. Of course, from time to time, your child will face some unexpected expenses and run out of pocket money before it’s time for them to receive it again. It’s best to treat this on a case by case basis. In the situation outlined here, most parents would find it reasonable to replenish their kid’s money supply. However, of your child makes a habit of overshooting their mark, they could be in danger of taking money for granted. So, if children are simply blowing their wads on unnecessary items and rendering themselves incapable of buying more important things, parents may refuse to provide their children with more money.

What Do You Do If You’re Struggling to Give Your Children Pocket Money?

Here’s an interesting thing that many parents don’t realize early enough: children are empathetic. People tend to paint every child in a slightly unflattering light, believing them to be more selfish and self-centered than they truly are. The more you talk with your children and the more open you are with them, the more they’ll surprise you! Don’t just try blindly to match what their friends’ parents are giving them. Talk to your children about the family’s money situation, and set their expectations so that they’re manageable. Not only will this create an atmosphere of trust between you and your children, but it will help your children understand the value of every penny earned.

And it’s always a good idea to spur on your children’s entrepreneurial side. If they have ideas on how to make their own money, encourage them passionately. Help them refine those ideas, whether they’re the classic lemonade stall, or something a lot more inspired. Children who make their own money are a lot more likely to save some amount of it. They’ll also value their hard-earned money a whole lot more.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options 2017.

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