Pocket Money: When? Why? How Much?

There are plenty of questions surrounding the pocket money issue, and there are no easy answers to those questions. Yet, with some guidelines, you can devise your own set of rules.

Parents and experts have dealt with various arguments questioning the very need of giving pocket money to children, to how much, why, when and the reason why the pocket money system might just prove to benefit children in developing their concepts around finances.

The one constant to all pros and cons brought to light by experts is that there is no “fixed rule” to address the issue on hand.

Experts at international parenting websites, supermom guides, theguardian.uk, Australian finance expert and TV presenter, David Koch (along with his wife Libby Koch) – are all talking about the necessity of giving children some amount of pocket money – based on your finances or personal thoughts. According to experts, this will help children learn the value of money and how to handle it; and also instil the concept of saving and spending appropriately. This will also give them an early peek into the financial workings of the world.

After having read plenty of articles and exchanged opinions with many parents, I made a list of takeaways that could benefit parents tackling the pocket money issues.

Appropriate age: While in the UK, parents may start giving children pocket money when the child is under five (according to The Guardian), Switzerland is more lax in this matter. The first year of primary school or the time when the child asks what pocket money is or expresses that some of his/her schoolmates get pocket money seems to be the right time to have the “money talk.”

This implies that the child is exposed to the concept and willing to learn and understand it – and of course, be rewarded by the exciting amount you choose to give him depending on what you deem right.

Amount: In Switzerland, the basic rule is weekly pocket money equalling the grade your child is in. So, a first grader will get SFr. 1 every week, while a sixth grader will receive SFr. 6 per week. Or perhaps, every fortnight, depending on his spending pattern.

Oversight on spending: If your sixth grader is buying six francs’ worth of sweets every week, it’s not going to do him/her any good with dental and health issues looming in the future. Or, if the child ends up spending all the money on paying fines for delay in returning of books to the library and believes that it’s okay to do so.

As a parent, more than the amount and frequency of pocket money, having an insight on saving and expenditure is what’s more relevant.  This gets more important as your child heads towards his double digits and teenage years.

There is a lot out there that you don’t want your kid buying – directly or through older friends (alcopops, cigarettes, to name a few. It isn’t an ‘all-safe’ world!)

Discussions on money matters: Tell your child that the pocket money is for him or her to make the best possible use of.  Explain how it can be spent on something nice, rather than wasted away as a fine. Bring in the saving concept. Your child can save the weekly cash for something bigger that can be bought the following month. Or save up for dad’s birthday present. Perhaps, you could encourage saving by telling the child that you would pool in a certain amount for the next fantastic toy or book that he is saving up for. If the child is old enough to get pocket money, he/ she is old enough to make a small account book as well.

Help your little one to plan his finances. A little guidance and small steps make all the difference.

Earning a bonus: Helping Mum and Dad out in routine chores such as, laying the table, clearing up their room, helping with the garden, putting their own laundry or books and bags in the right place are not negotiable tasks. I believe these should be instilled in the child as part of bringing up; just like good behaviour.

But if the child goes beyond his or her means and does his good deed or gesture – that surely can be rewarded with an appropriate bonus.

Every family has its own set of rules. Pocket money rules can be made as flexible or strict as you want. What’s important is that your child benefits from the concept – irrespective of the amount.

To conclude: the pocket money concept is positive. But limits have to be set – regarding amount and expenditure. The “Kinder finances” – however big or small the amount – should be discussed with options of parental contributions, deductions, saving options, incentive probabilities, limitations and flexibility issue. Mutual trust is a must! And this can be garnered as well.

Try, test, and come up with your own conclusions! Share them with Mothering Matters by adding to the comments section below.

By Aradhna Sethi

Aradhna is the author of two books: The Entrepreneur’s Wife – A Survival Guide (2016) and The Swan That Laid Golden Eggs (2017, for children). Read her blog, share her life and views on Twitter, and like the Facebook page: Life, Spice & More!

Illustration by Lemady Rochard

Lemady is an artist who also runs Storycraft classes for children aged one-and-a-half to eight years in Ruschlikon, ZH. She is currently studying a Masters in fine arts and also has a background in theatre arts and children’s literature. Lemady lives in Thalwil with her two young children. Contact her: lemady@mail.com

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