Pocket money

Money, money, money.

posted in: Parenting 11

Money!  It makes the world go round, and at the same time it’s the root of all evil.  This apparent contradiction is confusing enough for adults, so how are children supposed to make sense of it?

The subject of money has been occupying my mind this week, more than usual.  It’s forever in the news, of course.  Only today, I saw a debate about the possible introduction of a universal basic income sitting alongside a report of a particular footballer who is about to earn the best part of £500,000 per week.  (Imagine earning so much money that you have to divide it by 52 so that people can make sense of it!  What will we be measuring it in next?  Light years?)

Half a million pounds is ten times as much as the average pension pot in the UK, so this footballer (Alexis Sanchez) – will be earning more in a single day than the average UK worker saves in his or her whole life.

There is an imbalance here.  Who needs to earn that kind of money?  No-one, that’s who.

I’d like to think that if I had access to as much wealth as that, I’d do something constructive with it.  I’d probably buy a few unnecessarily expensive material things first, of course, like a house in Kensington Palace Gardens, or a set of dining chairs for £30k each.  And after that, I’d live a life of relentless philanthropy.

But what am I saying?  Although I don’t always feel it, I am already wealthy, when compared with the world average.  It’s all relative, and I should be more grateful.

Attitudes to money

It may be that my attitude to money just isn’t right.  We didn’t have much spare cash when I was growing up; my parents were teachers and I was one of seven hungry kids, so the family budget had to go a long way.  We didn’t get pocket money in cash form; instead, we each had our choice of chocolate bar, eaten while watching The A-Team on a Saturday afternoon.  My favourite bar was the Texan, which – like the late, great George Peppard – is no longer with us.

A Texan bar, from the 80s

My oldest sister’s favourite chocolate bar was the Mars (which does still exist), but she took a different approach to its consumption: she would eat half during the programme, and – unbelievably – would save the rest for another time!  She did a similar thing at Easter, and would still be enjoying the remains of her egg many days after the other six had been fully digested, flushed away, and forgotten about.  Her self-control drove me crazy!  (This tactic backfired occasionally, though, when we discovered her stash, and guzzled it down without mercy.)

So I do remember eating chocolate, but I don’t recall having a single lesson in the art of managing my money (or my confectionery).  This, I regret.  Even now I’m not particularly good at budgeting, planning ahead, or making wise investment decisions.

Pocket Money

My girls are 7 and 4, and I’m wondering if it’s the right time to start educating them about money.  I’ve asked my fellow dads (and mums), and I’ve found that there is no consistency at all.

Most commonly, people think that 7 is too young for pocket money.  “If she’s not asking for it, she doesn’t need it!” etc.

Others sprinkle random amounts of cash on an ad-hoc basis, for birthdays, holidays, or whenever it feels appropriate.  There are basically no rules here – and we all know how kids like rules.

A third group give money as payment for jobs done, in a kind of commission-only system.  This can’t be counted on as a regular income for mortgage purposes, and there are also fines for non-performance, so in theory the child could owe the parent money at the end of the week.

Piggy bank


I’ve taken all this information on board, and I’ve come up with my own proposal (which my wife doesn’t know about yet).  See what you think of this.

  • There is a basic income level, say £3 per week (although the actual amount is a key detail that I have yet to confirm).
  • Out of this, £1 is immediately returned, to cover rent, bills, and tax.
  • The second £1 is put in the piggy bank, as savings, to be accessed on her 18th birthday.
  • The final £1 is for her to spend as she likes.
  • She can earn more spending money by doing extra jobs on top of what’s normally expected – washing the car, sweeping the chimney, stuff like that.

Am I overcomplicating things?  Maybe.  But life and money management ARE complicated, and I feel that some structure is better than the random non-system that we have at the moment.

Go Henry takes it to a whole new level, but I think I’ll keep it up my sleeve for another year or so.

And now to tackle that other unpindownable family currency – the brownie point!

Any feedback on my plan is much appreciated!


DIY Daddy
Follow Matt:
Dad of girls, lover of music, frustrated sportsman, musician, writer. I like to think I'm pretty hip, but my kids disagree. I have had two hip replacements though!
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11 Responses

  1. Tom Briggs
    | Reply

    My sister did the same with her chocolate and sweets! As it happens, we’re thinking about introducing pocket money for our sons who are a similar age to your daughters (seven and five). We haven’t decided on an amount yet but have agreed that they’ll get it in return for helping us with (easy) chores. Not sure how it’s going to go, but I’m hoping it will teach them the value of money.

    • Matt
      | Reply

      Thanks Tom. Great minds think alike! I think we should both give it a go and compare notes.

  2. Philip Chesworth
    | Reply

    Brother Matt. I feel funny replying via a comment but thought it wierd to ring you to discuss this matter. I am contemplating turning the whole pocket money thing on its head. Rather than give the girls pocket money for the week, I would draw up an ‘value’ for the jobs they are expected to do (e.g. 30p for setting the table, £1 for bathroom cleaning etc). Then, whoever does the job first gets the cash. The advantage of this is they will not have to be moaned at to do jobs. Also, if one girl wants to do the other one’s job, the pocket their cash too. The main benefit of this would hopefully be that capitalism would take over in so far as the girls may start under cutting each other and do the jobs cheaper. Thus, saving me money and teaching them lessons in life! Feel free to update your Blog with this ingenious plan.

    • Matt
      | Reply

      Interesting angle. Let me know how this works out for you.

  3. Nige
    | Reply

    We have already introduced pocket money to our 5 year old twins they need to learn the value of money Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

  4. Emily
    | Reply

    I’m sure I read something similar to your plan this week. A woman in a news article, gives her daughter pocket money, but out of it she has to pay rent and contribute towards food etc. I think it’s a good idea as it definitely teaches the value of money. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    • Matt
      | Reply

      I read that too – but I had the idea independently! At least I’m not the only one who thinks this might work.

  5. David @DadvWorld
    | Reply

    I like this. I think more parents should be creating whatever system works for them to teach children about money. We have an entire society crippled in debts and it’s mainly because ono of us were educated about money during our younger years, only to the be thrust into a world of bills and the taxman.

    How, in 2018 schools are not having an entire subject based on money management and economics etc is beyond me. Well actually that’s a lie, they want us to be poor with money because the poorer we are at managing money the more of it those at the top can have for themselves!

    Good read mate 🙂

    • Matt
      | Reply

      Thanks, David! I agree – this should be taught in schools. But as it isn’t, I’m going to do it myself.

  6. Chris Forte
    | Reply

    Maybe you should be giving them a base rate of £300 per week of which £298 comes straight back as rent and food – don’t want them subliminally devaluing things after all 😂

    • Matt
      | Reply

      Apart from the real-life tax implications for me, I think that’s an excellent idea!

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