Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Scrooge McGlock

We are just entering the world of pocket money for the kids. It's kinda hard knowing how to approach it, what quantity etc. Me and E thought we were on the same page last week when we decided on an amount. We then realised that she meant that amount for a day, and I meant it for a week.  Oh.

Anyways, we reached agreement, and kicked it off yesterday. The kids do their 'job' for a week, and then get their princely wage come Sunday.  But I'd be very interested to hear how other people have approached this.

Is pocket money a good thing? What is a suitable amount? Should the amount depend on age, and if so, will the younger sibling become resentful that the older one always gets more? How do you teach wisdom and generosity without stifling them (eg- "child, it is far better and holier for you to give your 10c to a worthy charity than to buy those two red frogs")?

What do you reckon? How do you approach it in your house?

14 comments:

Deb said...

Okay, here's what we've done. We bought some snack containers that fit together to make three compartments. We labelled them "spending", "giving", "saving". In our house, you get pocket money upon reaching your first year of school. Ten percent of your pocket money goes in giving and another ten percent in savings. The rest is yours to do as you wish....except that sometimes we veto stuff we don't want to them to have. Some weeks we says, "You may not spend your pocket money on lollies or drinks this week because you've already had too much this weekend." On Saturday, my husband banned the 6-year old from purchasing super glue. A wise move.
We plan to make the 10% to savings and giving complusory for a number of years before leaving it up to them. This mainly comes from the fact that when I was little it was forced on me to give 10 cents to God and it is a lesson that I've valued ever since. I'm very grateful for that early training.
Our kids' pocket money is not tied to doing a particular job/s. It's just a benefit of being in our family. However, being fined for bad behaviour or breaking stuff is also part of our discipline tool kit.
I love going to the shops and having kids say, "Can I have..." and then replying, "Sure! You can use your pocket money and buy that." There's usually a groan from the child who has already wasted his money last week, but it's a wonderful learning experience.

Karen said...

I probably shouldn't be posting at all here but just wanted to say good on you for getting some kind of system off the ground.

We are very slack parents and despite discussing pocket money many times since our two older guys have started school it has never gotten off the ground here (I'm wanting to slink off in embarrassment reading about Deb's fantastic system....). The two older ones do have school banking though which we put a couple of dollars into each week. They're up to about $150 in their accounts from a couple of years of doing that. But I keep thinking we should be giving them some money each week to sort out for themselves. I just know that a lot of it would end up invested in more Lego...which I am not at all keen to see the sight of :)

Deb said...

I meant to say, we also have a rule about giving at church. We don't give our kids anything to put into the offering plate before they reach school. That way, it's a big deal when you get old enough to give of your own money. We wanted giving to be a privilege - not just giving away your parents' money that you didn't care much about.

And the other thing I didn't say is that we don't let them touch the savings part at all. It's long-term savings. After a year or two, they get the excitement of opening a bank account and putting that money in. We say that money is saving for future needs, not current wants, and that's why it can't be touched at this stage. When we open that money up to use...we haven't finalized that yet.

Jessica said...

I think it's not how much (although less is better if you want to instill frugality). It's what you do with it. Making good habits is the point, I think. When I was a kid we got $1 a week, and of that 50 cents went in the dollarmite account, and 10 cents we took to church each week. So 40 cents for the lolly shop. Pretty cute now I think about it. And we never got more than $1 as we got older, which forced us to go to Hungry Jacks for a job asap.

One for a wish.. said...

I think some important aspects of pocket money (especially for older kids) are:
1. There are jobs that the kid should do without payment...just as part of the family.
2. Pay a realistic amount for jobs. My daughter, aged 12, has friends who get paid $20 to fold a basket load of clothes. Personally think this is leading to a downfall when the kid finds out that some jobs pay $20 an HOUR.
3. I am tough. If they leave it lying around it goes back in my coin jar. Otherwise you can find yourself paying the same pocket money 4 times as children wail " I've lost it".
4.as a parent, I pay for the basics, but if they want brand name stuff, then they need to pay the difference. It really makes them question the worth of brand names.

Like the sound of Deb's ideas. We haven't dealt with the savings/tithing aspects..

Laetitia :-) said...

Not having children I obviously can't comment from the point of view of parenting - or at least comment any more definitely than hypothetically. However, I can comment based on what my parents did with me and my sisters.

We got pocket money that was tied to chores. If we didn't do our chores then we didn't get paid - I think my parents wanted to instil a sense of "she who will not work will not eat". We were able to increase our 'take' by doing unassigned jobs (i.e. activities, such as washing the car, that were not anyone else's set chore).

10% had to go into the church plate. We could use the rest for whatever we wanted except that in later years we had to buy (from Mum) some schooling supplies e.g. the paper we used for assignments (the teachers must have hated mine - double-sided, close spaced, hand-written, small letters - DH says that everyone else suffers from my micro-graphia). I think this was intended to instil a sense of the value of money and what we spend it on.

The amount we were paid increased as we aged mainly due to inflation but there may also have been a schooling milestone component with those in high-school (who had to buy their own paper) being paid more. When we started getting Austudy in Yr 11 or 12, pocket money was cut out but we could still earn more by doing odd jobs around the house. Washing the car was my favourite in summer - we didn't have a pool so getting wet washing a high-top van was the next best thing.

As the youngest child, I could see this working out far in advance because my eldest sister is 6 years older than I, so I don't remember being jealous of her.

I've heard various reasons given for tying or not tying pocket money to jobs. One camp says not to as they want the child to grow up knowing that they are accepted based on who they are not what they can(not) do; the other says that children need to learn that being part of a family includes pulling one's weight to keep the household functioning.

Some benefits of giving pocket money regardless of which camp you fall into regarding chores is to help kids learn delay of gratification. They learn that if they spend it today, they won't have it to buy X tomorrow; and A will take B weeks of saving a third of one's 'income' but only C if half is saved...unless the car gets washed every Saturday over summer if Mum and Dad will go for that idea.

And then there's the excitement of being able to buy A after all that waiting and saving. It was the lack of this that stopped my buying cheap DVDs a few years back - there was no thrill of having saved up for it. Buying a block of land has been much more gratifying...now we just need to save for the house (harder now I'm unemployed).

Crazyjedidiah said...

I don't have kids either, but my situation growing up was similar to Jessicas, where we started with 1 dollar and 10 cents into offering, 50 cents into dollarmite account and the rest was ours to do with as we pleased. The amount that we were given did increas as we got older. The other thing was that I was in a large family with lots of birthdays grouped together and some near christmas so most of my money ended up going on birthday presents for other people and money that I got as birthday and christmas presents was spent on other things I wanted sometimes supplemented by my income.

Crazyjedidiah said...

I guess we were also brought up not to just go spending money willy nilly.

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Ruth said...

We don't do pocket money. I would never have the right change for all the kids!

We do have bank accts for the kids that I put $ into fortnightly, which the kids know about, but have no access to, nor do we talk about it much at all.

We've toyed with the idea of setting up a bank acct for the kids each, as they get older, which they then pay for their own things out of- but we've only toyed with the idea, not done it.

Sometimes we pay the kids to do something, like mow the lawn, but mostly chores are part of being in our family.

I don't think our kids have asked for pocket money. So it's never really come up much as a topic.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks so much everyone for the input, it's interesting to hear all that. I'm actually pleased at the diversity of your oppinions and approaches too, it makes me feel a bit more relaxed about it. Every family doesn't have to operate identically.

Stuart Heath said...

Our kids aren't at this stage, yet; I look forward to thinking more about the mechanics of pocket money.

But here are some things I'd like to instil in our children (some of which can be learnt in the way we deal with pocket money; all of them will need to be reinforced in the way we actually act in the day-to-day):
1. Money and work are linked. Money is the value of work, stored and made flexible. When I buy things, I'm paying for other people's work. I shouldn't see money as an end in itself: it has to be linked to good work (i.e. work which does good to people).
2. Therefore money has a certain power: it enables me to get people to do things for me (e.g. cook my meals, make my clothes, educate my children, etc.). This comes with responsibility: we should be loath to waste money (which also means we might be careful about which formal charities/church staff/etc. we support.)
3. Not all work is paid: cooking meals, washing socks, and sweeping floors are all good forms of work. We just don't get paid for them.
4. ALL our money is God's, and we should look to use all our money generously (and imaginatively). Some Christians seem to have a corban system, where they set some money aside for 'holy purposes' (e.g. put some in a giving plate on a Sunday), but the rest is mine, mine, MINE — for frivolity, self-indulgence, self-sufficiency, or whatever. (I think the logic goes something like, "I've been generous by giving 15% to my church. I don't need to think about it any more.") But if you're buying a red frog, it's great to think to buy one for someone else (in the same way as I hope we as parents might make gifts to others to pay for their babysitting or lawn-mowing or legal expenses or holidays or mobile phone bills or whatever).
5. This doesn't mean we should eschew all luxury. But it does mean that I should be AT LEAST as generous towards others as I am luxurious towards myself. (So if we're going to buy takeaway three times a week, maybe we can give at least the same amount to people who don't have any food.)
6. Money is for relationships. So it's good to spend money on things that will build relationships (e.g. meals, Halloween treats, gardening equipment, phone bills).
7. There's no certainty about outcomes. By all means, save and make (apparently) wise investments. Serving people with money doesn't just mean serving them right now; it also means serving them into an uncertain future. But there's no such thing as 'financial security'. We live in an inherently risky world. So take some risks. Kids often seem to be better at this than adults :)

This isn't an exhaustive list, of course. But I've been thinking about it a bit, recently, and I've realized that there are some good things I learnt from my parents about money (more by example than any thought-through instruction), and there are also some things I really wish I'd learnt.

Laetitia :-) said...

Stuart - your 2. and 3. don't seem to gel - on one hand you talk about being able to pay people to do certain things but on the other you say that this type of work is unpaid.

Housework is a silent 'paid' work - financial planners will tell you that if you have children, you really need to factor in paying for a housekeeper / nanny in the event that one of the parents die (when working out life insurance amounts). This is because most people will need help keeping a household running if they want to maintain a certain lifestyle. Otherwise the one left behind is left with the choice of (a) giving up a certain amount of work in order to keep the household running which then leads to less income and its attendant outcomes or (b) running oneself ragged trying to do it all. Of course, the age of the children can affect this - if they're old enough to be able to come home by themselves, do certain chores, make dinner or alternatively stay at a friend's or family member's house until being picked up, then they'll need less supervision than a toddler.

Stuart Heath said...

Hi, Laetitia,

Sorry for the confusion.

The points are:
2. It's possible for money to buy work
3. But not all work is paid

People tend to view money as an end in itself (i.e. the more I have, the better). But noticing that money and work are linked can help us value money not for itself but for what it can do. This should help us notice the responsibility we have to use it for good. Another application might be in the area of 'bargains': the work-money link might make us question some bargains, because we wonder whose work could be worth so little money.

Also, our culture tends to value paid work over unpaid work. This is particularly true for parenting and housekeeping. (My wife doesn't do much paid work at the moment; she spends most of the day loving our children in various ways and keeping our house sanitary. I try to answer graciously whenever people ask if my wife works or if she's going back to work.)

I want my children to know that unpaid work is real and valuable work (and that we won't necessarily pay them for all the work they do around the home. Though we may pay them for some. As I say, they're not at that stage, yet :)