We asked Jo Middleton a blogger and mum of two to test out Roosterbank and explore with some of her followers their approach to pocket money. Jo kindly put a summary of what she found out below – you can also check out her posts for useful comments from other mums and dads.
Pocket money is one of those things, like bedtimes, that there aren’t really any hard and fast rules for. As useful as it would be to be given a guidebook when our children are born, we’re not, and so have to rely on our own judgement (scary times), and the advice of others when making decisions.
When I asked my blog readers how much pocket money I should give my ten year old daughter Belle, opinions varied wildly. Some gave nothing at all, leaving it down to their mood on any given day as to what they might give in to at the shops. Some had complicated calculations – the child’s age in money plus a pound every month. One dad gave his daughter up to a pound every day, so long as she remembered to ask.
Debate also ensued over exactly what you should get back for your money. Is pocket money unconditional, or should it have strings attached? Should we expect our kids to do chores in return for their cash or is tidying your bedroom something you should do regardless of financial incentive? “My children are all so different,” said one mum, “I have 2 spenders and one saver, I think it’s in built. Mine have to earn additional money for anything extra they would like by doing jobs – win win!”
I was clearly though not the only one struggling to find a happy medium.
Then of course comes your next pocket money dilemma – how much control do you retain over what they spend it on? I turned again to the helpful advice of my readers, hoping that they would back me up over my disinclination to let Belle blow the lot on fizzy strawberry laces. Again though, opinions were mixed.
Some parents felt that total freedom was in order. “Does anybody tell you what you can spend your money on?” challenged one reader. “It’s part and parcel of growing up. Is it not the case with children you tell them no they will do it all the more?”
Others took a little more cautious approach. One mum, who had experienced the results of a secret mission to the shop to buy a two litre bottle of coke, felt that “a total ban on pocket money being spent on anything other than Improving Books” might be necessary. It’s a tough call. You’ve allowed them the cash, but how much freedom do you give them to go with it?
Although we might not want them spending all their money on sweets, having the experience of handling money can teach your child valuable numeracy skills. A recent survey by TK Maxx found that four in five parents use shopping to teach their children numeracy skills, getting them to add up and subtract the cost of their purchases.
One particularly funny thing the survey also found is that men are not to be trusted when it comes to balancing the budget. Most parents apparently agree that mums are better at teaching children the value of money (62%), compared to just over a quarter who put the same level of trust in dads.
The most important pocket money lesson of all then – exactly how many strawberry laces can you get for a pound?
Keep an eye on the blog for more pocket money conversations. If you are interested in contributing to Roosterbank yourself or have any ideas to share, use our feedback page to get in touch or email email@example.com.