The Great Cash CONUNDRUM – What To Do About Pocket Money?

Pocket money is a source of some confusion for parents. Should we give our children pocket money? When should we start? Should it be given in exchange for household chores, or just handed over? A regular weekly amount or just whenever we’re feeling flush?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but most people agree that having their own money to spend helps kids to learn about what things cost and how to budget. Pocket money teaches them about making tough choices: “do I get the toy or sweets?” And negotiating: “Mum if I buy the toy can you lend me half of next week’s pocket money so I can get some sweets too?”

The average weekly amount of pocket money that UK kids receive is around £6 per week – although this does span across all ages; the amount parents give is usually less than that to begin with, and it gradually goes up with age. At age 3, any coins will do – plastic ones, pennies, Euros – they’ll just play with them. At age 6, they understand that cash means new stuff and they’ll be desperate to spend anything they get immediately. By age 10, it’s probably a good idea to have linked pocket money to a few little chores, so that the idea of contributing to the household and having to earn money starts to take root.

Deciding how to tackle pocket money does have its challenges. How do you tell a six-year-old that they are only getting £3 when their 9-year-old brother gets £4? And if you give them complete freedom over what they spend their money on, they might come home from the shop with a huge bag of 5p chews and eat them all just before dinner. But if you over-control what they spend it on, they’re not really learning much about money management, are they? The important thing is not to worry too much about all the details! Discuss the ins and outs of money openly and honestly with your children, be generous and flexible whilst setting a few boundaries … and they will figure it all out in the end.

Eventually kids become teenagers and want to go shopping with their friends rather than with their embarrassing parents, so you might decide to open a bank account for them and pay in clothes money every month, along with their pocket money. But then they might start babysitting or get a paper round or a Saturday job and that complicates things even more because it feels like they have more cash than you do … but that’s another story.

This article was first published in the Little Tigers Summer 2016 printed edition