There are so many ways we’re reminded how different it is for our kids now, most of them connected with consumerism in one form or another—long gone are the days of receiving 20 pence a week to spend on sweets at the corner shop. I doubt that would get them even a fun-size bag of chocolate buttons, and besides, kids aren’t allowed sweets and chocolates now, right? Hmmm… Our children have both more influence and more choice these days, and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, the fact remains that most of it costs money.
Does pocket money sound like an old-fashioned notion? It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot recently. My eldest daughter just turned seven and is becoming increasingly aware of how much things cost. With money woes being a reality for many, including me, having her appreciate the value of it is becoming more and more of a priority. So when is the right time to trust her with her own pound and pennies? Or does a more mature attitude towards money only come after kids have been given the responsibility of looking after their own?
It might be helpful to take a look at the statistics: in its most recent Annual Pocket Money Survey, Halifax concluded that the average weekly handout to 8- to 15-year-olds has increased by 9 percent since 2012, a rise from £5.98 to £6.50. Of course, there are regional variations, with children in London unsurprisingly receiving the greatest average amount each week. Another interesting trend in the capital, compared with other regions, is how important it is for London kids to know how much their friends are receiving, indicating that peer influence may affect our city’s higher numbers.
WHEN TO START
I have to admit, this isn’t really an issue for my kids right now. Acton resident and mother of two Lucie Bright echoes this: “My kids have never asked for pocket money. They’re not saving up for anything. I guess they’re either totally spoilt or singularly undemanding, as they seem to have everything they need, and aren’t asking for anything else. I’ll happily buy them books, they get toys and other things at Christmas and birthdays, and clothes as they need them. They often try to give me their saved ‘pocket money’ (from their grandparents) to help with costs for things like uniforms. In fact, sometimes when they’re offered money, they say they don’t need it and sweetly try to refuse.”
Whether this becomes a more relevant issue as our kids enter their teenage years remains to be seen. At this young age, I think it helps to look at the reasons why I’m considering going down the pocket-money route and what I want us both to get out of it. The most important aim in all of this is to teach my daughter the value of money. Although she is slowly starting to learn what money signifies, both at home and at school, she still has a tendency to see it as a toy—leaving coins lying around on the floor, for example. Teaching her about specific monetary values isn’t really an issue right now, but perhaps I should be encouraging her to think of coins as different to, say, buttons or Legos.
To me £6.50 a week still seems like an awful lot—am I being incredibly naïve here? Ok, when they reach a certain age, kids need money to buy those things that cement their identity, but surely in keeping with the “value of money” aim, another important aspect of pocket money is to teach kids the importance of saving. Richard Fearon, head of Halifax Savings, says, “With a greater number of children now keeping their money in a bank or building society, and 75 percent saving at least a quarter of what they receive, they can use their pocket money to get first-hand experience of managing their own money, which will be of real benefit as they grow up.”
With this in mind, the aim should surely be on starting low and encouraging kids to save for what they want, whether it’s magazines, hair clips or that t-shirt they’ve had their eye on. As the nature of their pocket money or allowance inevitably changes over the years, my main aim will be to keep this ethos in mind; yes, they need it for practical reasons, but experiencing that satisfaction of saving for what you most desire shouldn’t be forgotten.
Maybe I’m overthinking this—does a few quid a week really hold so much significance? After all, this isn’t intended as some complicated project in money management, but more a step in the right direction. We often adhere to a somewhat unjust opinion of youth as a future generation of rabidly materialistic consumers who have to get their hands on the latest trends and gadgets because that’s what their friends are doing. I’m not saying there won’t be an element of this, but I’m going to give my kids a bit more credit. And I’m not talking the card variety.
Do you have any positive or negative experiences related to the pocket-money issue? Let us know your thoughts.
About the author:
Anna Scott is a freelance writer, parent, procrastinator and Hammersmith resident. When she’s not attempting to write her first young adult fiction novel, in between reading and reviewing the odd book or two, she can be found chasing after her two little girls. In a previous life she was a politics graduate and wine trade lackey. Head over to Anna Scott Jots to find out more…
Photo credit: Octolilly