pocket money

Seven is such a pivotal age, perhaps even more so when a new baby arrives. The leap into the next stage of childhood is profound and because Che is our firstborn it’s all new for us, too. Somedays it feels like we’re doing an alright job, others it feels like we’re fumbling.

With seven comes an independent streak so bright it’s impossible to ignore. There is also an awareness of what can only be categorised as keeping up with the jones’ – many of his friends at school come from affluent households and it’s not uncommon for a child to own their own iPad.ย Enter lofty expectations, reality and the subject of pocket money. We first discussed it when he started kindergarten but he’s only showed a vested interest in it recently. He wholly understands that the only way to earn money is to work (ie. help around the house).

Introducing: chores.

But this is where it gets tricky. Daniel and I firmly believe that every member of the family should, at a certain age, contribute to the day-to-day running of the household. Plates should be taken from the table to the sink at the end of a meal, shoes should be taken off and put by the door or in the wardrobe, dirty clothes should be put in the washing basket, toys should be packed away, rooms should stay (relatively) tidy. So where do we draw the line between the essential jobs around the house and the extra deserved-of-pocket-money chores? As you can see above, raking up frangipani leaves is one of the extra jobs that we feel is perfect for earning money and Che has done this every Saturday for the past few weeks. We don’t own a dishwasher and we do create a fair amount of dirty dishes so washing, stacking and putting the dishes away is another time-consuming yet helpful job that we’re happy to class as a chore (because, let’s face it, it really is a chore).

Specific jobs aside, there is also the concept of money that needs to be discussed. The saving versus spending conversation is vital if we’re to nurture a healthy and realistic approach to money. Che has a school banking account and we encourage him to save half his pocket money and spend the rest (so far, he’s agreed). The grandparents also give him money for each birthday and Christmas and he understands that every cent of it must go straight in the bank.

Overall, his interest in earning money has fuelled his desire to help around the house. Coincidentally, we feel he is at an age where he is able to help in a more practical sense and perhaps this has been realised since Percy arrived (he can’t make a cup of tea just yet but he’s quite generous when spreading jam on toast).

This is the very beginning of his relationship with money and we want to make sure it’s a healthy one. His future is looking to be quite expensive (how on earth will the next generation afford a house if we’re struggling to do the same?) and we want to make sure he gets a good, albeit realistic, start (no wealthy parents here!).

But still, we have questions:

what jobs should be worthy of pocket money?
what’s the going rate for pocket money? (he earned $2 for raking a backyard of leaves).
what do you do if a job isn’t finished but he’s tried really hard?

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Showing 24 comments
  • Kim
    Reply

    Oh we are grappling with these questions in our home right now too. Our little man just passed six and a half, and all of sudden has a very keen interest in money, and earning it. He has a lovely little piggy bank, called a moon jar separated into three sections…spend, save and share. At the moment he gets an allowance of $1.50 a week, $0.50 goes into each section. His allowance isn't tied to chores, as we feel the same way as you do…he lives here and is expected to do some things around here to help keep our home. But, he wants to earn a little more, and so we came up with a little list of extra jobs he could do to earn some extra "income"…simple things. Those questions you asked are ones we keep asking ourselves, so I am looking forward to the discussion that follows ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply

    Great questions! I too will look forward to the discussion that stems. Ronan can earn 20c for each of the following jobs: feeding the dog, helping make his school lunch, setting the dinner table or watering the plants. He currently saves it all in his piggy bank and is saving up to purchase Lego – his favourite thing in the world at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚ the effort he puts into the job Is more important than if it's done correctly or completely so I still give him the money.

  • Jane S
    Reply

    Such a complex one isn't it Jodi? As a child raised on a farm I personally didn't ever receive pocket money. It wasn't that my parents couldn't afford it but we were just expected to help out around the farm and home, no questions asked. Now I am raising children (similar in age to your children) and we also live on a rural property. Chores/jobs and farm work take up a large part of our daily life and the children are almost always involved and helping. I wonder should they get pocket money or is this just part of life? An interesting discussion indeed!

    PS I haven't posted a comment in ages but I am always following along. Congratulations on the latest precious addition to your family. I always love your wise, thoughtful words and gorgeous photos, of course x

  • Kirky
    Reply

    We have a list of daily non-negotiable jobs we all have to do, based around cleaning up after yourself and basic hygiene. If you don't hit these, you don't get iPad time or cartoons. We have a list of 7 chores that need to be completed by the end of the week to earn $5. These are: Tidy the car, big bedroom clean, clean the floors, clean the toy room, put all the washing away, put the groceries away, and do a chore for Dad. We don't by snacks, little toys when shopping etc, this is all paid for with the money they have hopefully managed to earn. This system has saved my so many shopping trip tanties and dollars overall. Realistically they only hit the chores once every few weeks at the moment as I refuse to nag. The oldest (5) is starting to get the value in it all. We also expect them to help with dinner every night and hopefully, like I had to, will make a meal a week for the family when they get older. My kids are still only 5,4, and 18 months so the cleaning is a token effort but I find it easier to set expectations early. And buy a Dyson stick vac, kids love them and they do a really good job!

  • Kirky
    Reply

    Also, I read an article about a father that gave his tweenager $50 at the start of each month to cover all her extras. He worked out that it saved him money by the time he added all the little things up. At first she blew it all on new shoes but quickly realised she had nothing let for the month and couldn't go out with her friends. She started doing odd jobs for other people to get more money. He remarked something about her learning more about money in the first month than she had in all the lessons up until that point! I thought it was an interesting idea.

  • Reply

    We have an 8 and 10 year old. Since 4-5 they have had $3 a week not tied to chores and split three ways $1 each for Spend (goes in wallet to spend as they wish on anything or can opt to Save), Save (goes in bank) and Giving (goes in a jar and at end of year donate to their preferred thing so far it's been buying chickens goats school supplies etc via world vision). They do basic self care and chores not tied to pocket money as feel impt to teach them these are just jobs that have to be done to run the family home ie make bed, tidy room etc, clear table set table, feed pets etc. 10 year old does a lot more, older, wiser, more capable (8 yo has ASD so still learning/doing self care and chores but prob not what she was doing around same age) and to reflect this extra work she does and age willingness etc hers has just gone up to $5 a week and split $2/$2/1. Every now and again there might be a specif job like clean out the gutters that might get them a gold coin. They save any b'day and Xmas money twds 'big' things. We match them dollar for dollar on some big things. They gave a pretty good idea about money value hard work savings etc

  • Terra
    Reply

    I have a 13 year old and a 6 year old – the 6 year old is only sporadically interested in money, but the 13 year old has been receiving a (fairly) regular allowance since she was 8. There are household chores she does regardless of allowance, such as washing the nightly dinner dishes, and then there are rotating chores she should do in order to get her allowance, such as cleaning out the car, folding and putting away family laundry, etc. I say should, because on this point I am torn – many people I know, even approaching 40, have a very unhealthy and unrealistic attitude about money, which has led to many issues in their lives. They weren't taught how to budget or save, and overwhelmingly they give in almost immediately to any desire that takes their fancy. I want my children to begin their adult lives with a fundamental grasp of the differences between wants and needs, as well as a solid understanding of how to budget for both those things. So sometimes I give my child allowance even when I feel she's slacked on her chores, because she's been really excellent in saving her money. Other times, especially as we head into the more physically capable as well as more emotionally tempestuous teenage years, I don't because she's deliberately done a poor job or there was an unusual amount of snark pouring out of her. Normally, she gets 2.50 a week, with more if she does particularly difficult or time consuming chores.
    (I have been reading for a few months now, but never commented, just want to say that your blog and instagram feed are among the ones I most look forward to!)

  • Jesi
    Reply

    Our four year old earns pocket money for helping put laundry into the washer and dryer, folding linens and helping mop the floor with a swiffer-like microfiber mop and other assorted and similar tasks. We give him 1$ per job, and each one is optional. He has a piggy bank that he can store his money in or he can spend it. We don't have any rules as far as management of his money goes, we just let him decide what to do with it. Over time (we've been doing this for 4 months now) he's realized the reward of putting money away for something he would like. I prefer him to learn from experience (once you spend your money it's gone), I feel it's the best teacher.

    • Jesi
      Reply

      Oh and also I never pay him for regular chores, such as tidying his room, making the bed and putting his dishes in the sink.

  • Brandi
    Reply

    We've wrestled with this as well. Mostly we have just expected pitching in as part of the family, and we've tried to be very frank in our discussions about what things cost. I really try to avoid the 'keeping up the neighbors' mentality–when my daughter began to ask for an expensive doll (and I suspected it was simply because the other girls in her class had one) we talked about all the things that could be done with $100–and what was most appealing to her. My kids have been sharing a cracked ipad for over a year. I think it will be more difficult as they get older, but when they have more wants, they will be expected to have a job. My son will be starting his first summer job at 14–perhaps after this summer we will rethink how to approach this with our younger children! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Laura
    Reply

    I highly highly recommend the book The Opposite of Spoiled. The author makes a strong argument for giving pocket money independently of chores, for a number of reasons, but also provides perspectives from a number of families who do things differently. It's a fast read and actually made me decide to start giving my four year-old an allowance (albeit a very very small one).

  • Amanda K.
    Reply

    i grew up in a family of five without a dishwasher or clothes dryer. my sister and i (we were the two old enough to handle the tasks) alternated jobs each day, and didn't get allowance for it!

  • Reply

    We've recently started the pocket money thing with our 5.5 year old twins, only ยฃ1 per week if they have helped out with taking dishes to the dishwasher, putting their rubbish in the bin, tidying away toys etc. My children have become increasingly greedy and just want want want, which leaves me very cross sometimes! So I want them to understand that people work hard for their money, and that nice things are a luxury that we save towards. They told me recently that they're asking Santa for iPads this Christmas because some of their school friends have their own tablets. At five years old!! Santa'll choke on his mince pie when he reads our letter this yearโ€ฆ

  • Karen Cunningham
    Reply

    I have 4 children from 22 to 11. We have given our children pocket money from a young age but we have paid it into a bank account. It was an informal one early on but at the age of 11 it was a proper one. This was separated from sweets – allowed once a week (named by the children as 'friendly Friday'!) as we didn't want them spending their money on little things. We also encouraged them to save birthday and Christmas money. Finn my youngest bought himself a mini iPad last year because he didn't spend anything for two whole years.
    Once the children started high school we increased the amount we gave to include enough for bus money and a clothing allowance. We bought school uniform, sports gear, shoes, coats and the basics but they had to get the rest. The older ones have become very good at having a minimal wardrobe and are careful shoppers. Interestingly none of my children are very materialistic- I'm not sure how much this is due to our general outlook on life or the money policy and the fact that they have learned the value of things. They also learned that if they walked to school- a good 40 minute walk then they would have extra money in their pockets!
    Personally I have separated chores from cash – I feel that help in the family should be given freely because we are a unit that should work together because we want to. When we have paid the older ones for chores I found myself being critical of their work rather than being grateful that someone else had done the hoovering . I honestly don't know that we have always got that right and every family has to do what works for them. It is an interesting topic though!

  • Reply

    We have three kids from 17 to 3. The two older ones get pocket money from us and their grandparents – about 40 EUR a month. We started this when the older one entered into school with an amount of about 10 EUR/month
    They may if they want, earn extra money by ie. mowing the lawn, washing windows, cleaning the car or watching the little one when my husband and I go out.
    While my son (17) does often jobs for money, my daughter (15) is not so keen to do so but she accepts that she has less money than her brother.
    We often had discussions about fancy clothes and expensive shoes, but by now they both have accepted that if they want to have branded articles, they have to pay the remaining amount to the clothes I would buy them…
    Laptops, phones or the driving license (about 1500 EUR in Germany) they have to pay from the money they were given at their confirmation.

    Best Tanja

  • Craftysquirrel
    Reply

    We have started giving our 8 yr old a base pocket money of $5 a week it sounds a lot but – this she has to save about 1/3 , the other 2/3 she can spend but I encourage her to save this for bigger items and also she buys gifts for birthday presents etc. periodically she adds up her money and we go to the bank with a third . Like you she has to contribute to the household – make her bed, set and help clear the table, put washing away et and gets no money for this. She can also earn money for things like stacking firewood, washing our cars and helping me in the garden. Or doing things like washing all the window sills – big spring clean type chores – I usually give her 1 to 2 dollars for 1/2hrs work as this is about the limit of her ability to stay on task.

  • Helen Rodgers
    Reply

    Your idea is really nice. It would be one of the ways to make the child more responsible and a good man.

    Concrete polishing services Sutton

  • Zena
    Reply

    We live in the bush so household work is part of family life that we all do together. Max is eight in July and hasn't asked for pocket money yet. There's not a culture for children owning ipads at his age but I think that has a lot to do with there being a lot of out door activities such as skiing and not a lot of shops around. What I'd like to know is what are the children spending their money on? I definitely don't want more toys in the house:). I like how your instilling at a young age, how to save. I haven't done that yet and it's an important lesson that I was not taught coming from a poorer multicultural background.

  • Tysha Carter
    Reply

    We spent several weeks last summer talking about, and devising plans for chores etc. during our "family night" (a night we designate to sit down and go over important things with our children, including sometimes just doing something fun together or baking a treat ๐Ÿ˜‰ Our children are 6, 5, almost 3, and 6 months. Our eldest is in kindergarten this year. We used Dave Ramsey's children's program and decided on envelopes with "Give", "Save", and "Spend". We talked about work, and chores as being part of the household vs. extra jobs (we call them "commissions") that can be done to earn some extra money – which then must be divided between the envelopes. We encouraged the kids in the normal chores, by saying that if they completed those tasks each week, they could earn a ticket. Once they earn 4 tickets, they get to choose something fun to do – a "date" of sorts, with mom or dad – an outing for ice cream, for example. So, even though they aren't being paid, they still have incentive and it doesn't go unnoticed when they make their bed and help by picking up clothing, toys, getting homework done, brushing teeth, etc. For the commissions, we tried to choose age appropriate tasks – washing the windows, watering flowers and plants, vacuuming, wiping baseboards, certain yard work. As they get older, we will add more of what they can do. They are at ages that they are quite excited to be involved! We hope by starting young they will develop good habits, both in helping around the house, and also in the giving, saving, and spending of their hard earned money. We only pay .25 (a quarter of a dollar, that is in US currency) for each commission. So if they are really lucky they earn maybe a half a dollar a week at this point. It will increase with age, as well. There are also children at my sons school who have iPads and video games etc. (we do not even own a television set) and we talk about how we all have different priorities and goals and choose how we spend our time and money. We have four children and only one parent is employed (for pay, ha ha – I am very much employed in working around our home with our four little darlings ๐Ÿ˜‰ Money will always be tight for us, but I hope that my children learn wonderful lessons from having to wish or wait a little bit before having a want be instantly gratified. Wonderful topic. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply

    We also have 4 kids so I am pretty keen to keep a lid on how much pocket money we shell out each week. I wasn't ever taught how to save/use money effectively and it's a lesson I'm learning the hard way (at the age of 35 with 4 kids on one income). I might go so far as to say I was quite indulged. So I don't want to make this mistake with my kids. I love the way Karen had her kids budgeting from an early age. I think I will take this onboard

  • RosieandMax
    Reply

    Thanks for raising such an interesting topic, pertinent to us atm as we have just started giving our 4y old son a weekly allowance of ยฃ2. He raised the topic himself after discussing that toys cost money, by saying " it wasn't fair that we could earn pennies by going out to work but he couldn't as he wasn't old enough yet". He currently earns his allowance by setting the table,getting dressed, tidying his toys daily. We will eventually expect him to do these things automatically and will change the requirements as he gets older. He can earn extra money by helping in the garden/ dog walking etc. Initially I felt like I was spoiling him/ making him materialistic by giving him money as I was expected to help out when growing up and earned nothing until aged 17. However, he has been great at saving up for toys he chooses, and has learnt to be discerning and patient. I think he will actually have more independence of thought than I did, and certainly already derives great satisfaction from earning his own money.

  • Soph
    Reply

    HI Jodi, Funnily I wrote about this same issue when my son was 7! http://awomanofwonder.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/pocket-money.html
    We are still going strong with our allowance and set of responsibilities. The kids take it really seriously which is nice and it is interesting to see the different spending habits of my children (5 and 8)

  • Soph
    Reply

    As for going rate… our two get $10 a fortnight each which goes straight into a bank account that they can access if they want to buy something. The responsibilities that they have in the house hold are; setting/clearing table, opening/closing blinds, chickens, fish, dishwasher, school bags away, packing lunches, spotless room (twice a week), cleaning the playroom, doing their own clothes washing and putting their washing away.

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