My boys are at the age now that they need to know the ‘value’ of a dollar… as are many of their friends. And the topic came up today, as we watched five hours of hockey in a round robin tournament… ‘What’s the best way to handle pocket money?’
We all feel like we are putting our hands in our pockets way too often and our children aren’t appreciating it. I must admit, I have pulled in the reins this year, only because I sold so much of the boys things last year, expecting to move overseas temporarily, that I needed to replace the things that we no longer had when they needed them, which essentially meant, birthdays and Christmas last year weren’t as special, because I had been buying new things for them throughout the year. So this year, I’ve told them that I won’t be buying them new things, unless it’s their birthday or Christmas, and if they want something, they must save for it… so I’ve introduced regular pocket money.
It was all agreed by the parents I talked to today that pocket money is ‘earned,’ not just assumed that it will always be there. Chores for 9-12 year olds included emptying the dishwasher, putting clothes away after they had been washed & folded (and ironed if necessary), cleaning the cars (inside and out), keeping their rooms clean, putting their dirty washing in the laundry and vacuuming. Some parents also included a reduction in pocket money if they had been overly naughty or not getting along with their siblings.
One parent suggested he gave his 7th grader $100 per month as pocket money, but that had to pay for all the things that she wanted. If she wanted to see a movie with her friends, buy some fashion shoes (not school shoes or runners), get candy from the canteen at hockey, buying gifts, toys, video games, etc. She was also expected to save some of that $100. For her 5th grader brother, as his social requirements aren’t as busy as a 7th grader, he received $40 a month… and being a boy, he wasn’t interested in non-regulation shoes and possibly not old enough to be wanting to see movies with his friends as his older sister. Their father figured he’d actually save money with this pocket money plan, because he was constantly putting his hand in his pocket for their ‘needy’ requests, so now, if they want something, they need to be organised and have the money they are prepared to spend always on them.
Another parent gave their 6th grader and 4th grader $2 a week in pocket money, but had extra jobs where they could make more money, however their pocket money capped at $10 a week, as sometimes they would try and do the extra jobs more than what was necessary. That parent also put away $5 and $4 a week respectively into their children’s bank accounts for their weekly chores, so that they were constantly saving. Their $2 a week, essentially went towards any toys, iPad apps or computer games they wanted. This parent thought that if they really wanted something, they would set themselves a goal and save for it, allowing them to have the concept of ‘striving’ for something if it was worthwhile.
Other incentives were academic based. If they upped their grades in a particular subject for each test they would get $20. If they upped their grades at the end of each semester they received $80. If they could read a 200 page novel in 3 days, they received $20, or if they could blitz a scholarship exam, then they would receive a hefty bonus.
Whatever pocket money scheme we set for our children, it needs to support their need to help the family unit, their goals if they are materialistic or academic, and their understanding of stretching the dollar for all that they can. I think pocket money should be a positive enforcement, and if money is taken away because they have been overly naughty or getting bad grades, there needs to be a scheme that allows them to rectify the situation. We don’t get money taken off us in a work environment for bad people skills or not getting the job done, and most jobs have incentives to make us work harder, if it’s salary based or commission base, so why should we show our kids that money is taken away if we do something wrong? If you do something wrong too many times, yes you lose your job, but how do you convey that in a pocket money situation? You can’t… and it probably isn’t fair to show your children the pitfalls of the power of an employer in that 4th grade to 8th grade age group.
Pocket money, no matter what age, needs to be introduced the minute your child takes advantage of your ‘bottomless’ pocket of money. Because as soon as they know that it runs out, the more they will appreciate it.