Pocket Money

Do you wonder if it’s better to give your child regular pocket money or just act as their ATM machine? Every time you enter a shopping centre, you run the risk of coming out with your purse or pockets empty. Children today have many demands, they want to have what their peers have and parents are under pressure to provide it all.

Many parents ask for advice about giving pocket money to their children. Factors such as your own financial circumstances, the child’s age and their grasp of managing money are all things that need to be considered.

At Help Me To Parent, we believe that there are many benefits of giving pocket money to your child as this can:

Introduce them to the concept of managing their money
Allow them to make choices about what they want to spend their money on
Give them a degree of responsibility for budgeting their own money
Allow you to agree a plan of what they need to do to ‘earn’ their pocket money

So how much is appropriate? It is best to get the child involved in agreeing the amount with you. You can start by listing items they want to spend their pocket money on. This exercise will vary depending on the child’s age but it is a good guide to help you to decide what amount is appropriate. Don’t feel that just because an item is on the list that the expense has to be covered, you make the decision on whether this is a valid request or not!

A good way to do this is to think about and agree what the money can be used for. For example, if the child gets €5 per week, then you could agree that €2 must be saved and the rest can be used to purchase treats such as sweets or a magazine etc. The amount saved can be used to buy bigger treats or towards gifts for family members at birthdays, Christmas etc.

It is important that when you do give pocket money that you stick to the agreed amount and don’t hand out extra money throughout the week. This will help the child to budget and manage what they spend. Although it may be hard to refuse to give them more money, leaving them to do without something will encourage them to manage their pocket money more carefully the next time. If there is an occasion where you want to give them more money, agree that the amount is an advance from the next pocket money payment or that they do something to earn the extra money.

As part of the pocket money agreement, you might list some chores or household tasks that the child must complete in order to ‘earn’ the pocket money. The task should be appropriate to their age in terms of safety and their ability to complete the task. At least one task should be for the general household. The same is true for teenagers. They are older and can take on more responsibility so this should be reflected in the tasks they are assigned.

The time by which the tasks on the pocket money list should be completed should be clear. This will save arguments or ‘nagging’ the child to complete the task. A good idea is to have a day and time by which the task(s) should be completed and the day and time that they receive their pocket money should follow. It is also possible to make pocket money dependent on good behaviour around the house and for some of it to be taken away if a child misbehaves. The child is best warned of this (if you misbehave again you will lose some pocket money) and you should never take away all their money – it is important they always get something.

As with all parenting situations, the golden rule is that you must follow through. No matter how difficult it is for you to not give the pocket money if the agreed tasks are not completed, you must stick to the agreement. Remember, you are teaching your child basic skills in managing money and earning rewards. These skills will be of great benefit to your child throughout their life!

Finally, when it comes to teenagers, keep a close watch on how they are managing their money. If your teenager is using too much of their pocket money too quickly, talk to them about it. You need to keep a close check on what the money is being spent on and be conscious that the money is not being used for drink or worse again, drugs.