As I wrote last month, I believe there are lessons to teach children before they have money of their own. Because of that I decided not to give Small Boy pocket money until he was 8; an age by which I thought he would have learnt many of these lessons.
After he walked out of a school disco still clutching his tuck shop money and asking if he could put in into his savings I changed my mind…in his case 7½ turned out to be the perfect age.
So how do you decide when and, just as importantly, how much when it comes to your children’s pocket money?
Watch your child and talk to them to see when they become aware of the value of money and the value of saving. Each child learns and develops at a different rate so it is hard to put a set age limit on this.
If you are struggling I still believe that 8 is a good age and that most children, if taught some basic money lessons early on, will have gained enough knowledge by this age to look after and appreciate pocket money.
Give smaller children treats to last the week instead of money. Make a big deal about scheduling a special weekly trip out for them to chose their sweets or similar with a cash limit (in our case £1). If you have children of similar ages this could be a way of linking older children’s pocket money with younger siblings pocket sweeties. I still take Small Boy to the sweet shop for these trips in addition to his pocket money as we both love our local sweet shop but it is up to you how you decide to do the transition.
Just because you are not giving your child money of their own yet that does not mean that, if you chose to do so, you cannot start putting what you would give them into a savings account or piggy bank from an earlier age.
When it comes to how much to give our children I have come across lots of advice online; amounts and formulas based on age and so on. But I believe it is simpler than that. It starts with how much you as a family can afford to give your child on a regular, weekly basis. One formula I read suggested a pound (or dollar) per year of age…but I cannot afford to give Small Boy £7 a week every week and I’m guessing I’m not alone. I started at £2.50 a week, an amount I can afford, an amount that lets him buy sweets now and again and save for what he wants. He’s putting it all away in his soldier piggy bank for his contribution towards a trip to New York when he is 10 apparently *I’d better start saving myself*
You can read the rest of this Small Ones & Pocket Money series here:
Month 1. Small Ones & Pocket Money: An Introduction
Month 2. Small Ones & Pocket Money: Before Pocket Money
Month 3. Small Ones & Pocket Money: When and How Much