Is pocket money a thing of the past? I read an interesting article this morning about how giving your kids pocket money is in decline. This is the link if you want to take a look (The Telegraph). Forever the non conformists we are doing the complete opposite and have just started giving Sofia pocket money.
I loved getting pocket money when I was a kid. I remember when I was about 8 my sister and I really wanted to have a pet. My mum told us if we could save up enough for a cage then she would buy us a hamster (classic parent stalling!). Maybe she thought we’d forget about it by the time we had enough money but we were on a mission. We saved like crazy and got that little rodent (who then ate my school skirt but that’s another story). I also remember using saved up pocket money to buy sweets from the school tuck shop, pretty beads, Kendal Mint Cake and stickers.
Sofia loves to have her own cash. Up to now her main source of income has been the tooth fairy, plus some occasional gifts from her Gran and God Mother. She is also very eagle eyed at spotting dropped coins (which is quite handy in our house as it means she swoops on any loose change lying around as a potential chocking hazard for her younger brothers). Sofia loves counting her coin stash. In her mind as she has a lot of coins (including tonnes of coppers) she thinks she is rich. She loves taking out her own money to spend (cue carting around a tonne of coppers in my handbag which are then painstakingly counted out at the till!). It melts my heart if I’m ever talking about whether we can afford something she always offers to contribute some of her money. When she was quite a bit younger she said “maybe I could get you a car as a present mummy”.
According to the research quoted parents are now more like to buy things on demand for their children rather than give them a weekly allowance, especially younger children. The findings show that this is partly motivated by parents wanting to control what kids buy – wanting to stop them buying loads of plastic rubbish and sweets.
I completely understand how tempting it is to buy your kids treats on demand. I like to give Sofia little treats if she has been really helpful or as a reward for doing well at school but it does create a bit of an expectation. Economics is all about supply and demand and my experience is if you keep on supplying your kids will keep on demanding!
Something that has worked well in the past is giving Sofia a budget. If we are in a gift shop or out shopping in town I’ll give her a small amount as her budget to spend (around £3 depending on where we are and how much stuff costs). This switches her from nagging me to buy everything under the sun to checking all of the prices and trying to decide what is the coolest thing she can get for her money. I’ve been quite impressed with the smart choices she has made and how long she has taken carefully weighing up her options (even it takes an age for Sofia to make a decision).
I also recently read a post recently by a fellow blogger Laura from Laura’s Lovely Blog about pocket money and her 4 year old (Do we need to say no to our children more?). This got me thinking and inspired us to give Sofia weekly pocket money. This would satisfy Sofia’s love of having her own money and give her the chance to save up her own little budget for treats, plus it might make her understand and appreciate the value of things a bit more.
I know lots of people link pocket money to chores but we have decided not to do this. I don’t want Sofia to be only motivated by what she is going to get out of being helpful or well behaved. I think she needs to pitch in with things at home because that’s what it is to work together as a team not because it’s going to get money in return. The only stipulation we have for Sofia is that we can withhold a weeks pocket money if her bedroom is a mess.
Sofia was delighted when I told her the plan. Saturday has been designated pocket money day and she was really excited in the run up to her first pay day. We are starting really small 50p per week to start off with and after a bit of a trial we are planning to increase it to £1 per week. I know that this isn’t very much but I want it to make Sofia really thinks about what she wants and save towards it (rather than having enough to buy a little thing each week). Sofia found a note book to write down what she wants to get and I’ve helped her cost up her options. Her wish list includes a Barbie, an Animal Jam membership card, Shopkins and Moshi Monster toys. I like the idea that she is giving a lot of thought to what she wants the most and his many weeks if is going to take to have enough money.
I’ll do a follow up post in a few weeks time to see how our pocket money plan is going. I have high hopes that it will help us raise a financially savvy daughter! Maybe one day she will buy mummy that car after all.