Pocket Money: why some buy into it and others don’t

Although there are no hard and fast
rules as to when to, many parents  start
giving children an allowance as an inducement to work hard at school, to foster
a healthy respect for the value of money and as a rite of passage.

Whatever their reasons for giving
or refusing to shell out pocket money, most parents can justify their stance
and believe that their decision is consistent with their personal parenting

Pro pocket money

Bev Hodkin, an administrator for an
insurance management firm, and her banker husband Jeff give each of their
daughters, Rachel, 13, and Charlotte, 12, a weekly allowance. “I read somewhere
once that you should give your child an allowance of a dollar a year (of age),
but we prefer to give them $5,” said Mrs. Hodkin.

“I’ve a friend who gives her
children $25 a week and they then pay for anything they want out of it, like
cinema visits and books, but we prefer to have greater control over what our
children spend their pocket money on and like to be able to help them learn to
budget for the more expensive items they want.” Mrs. Hodkin added that the
amount they gave their girls also allows her and her husband to treat their
girls to what they themselves really want them to have.

Dora and John Williams also give
their children weekly pocket money. The painter and her lawyer husband use
pocket money “as a reward for good behaviour and good grades”.

Twelve-year-old Ben Williams and
his 10-year-old brother Jamie get $5 a week, too. “They also get big allowance
at the end of the year if they’ve done particularly well at school,” Mrs.
Williams said.

“We see pocket money really as a
reward for hard work and effort… We don’t believe in giving them an allowance
for chores as they are to be done regardless, they’re a part of family life.”
Tom and Pat McCallum’s three boys get pocket money intermittently.

Mr. McCallum, a business
consultant, said, “I think most of us don’t do it as strictly as our parents. A
few years ago we did the gold star thing… way too much work… for parents
and kids. We then simplified it to a default weekly pocket money, but docked
for negatives and upped for… something exceptionally good/kindhearted/hardworking.”

On reflection, the couple wish that
as their kids got older they would have focused more on it. “They know the
value of money, but still a bit too abstractly….”

Jerusha and Faraz Hosein are at the
stage where they are starting to seriously think about giving six-year-old
Gabriela a weekly allowance.

The discussion was prompted by a
recent trip taken with the Year Two student.

“I took her to Wannado City at
Sawgrass Mills, where children can be anything they want to be: a doctor, a journalist,
a grocery store worker,” said Mrs. Hosein. “Gabriela got to make money, and I
discovered that she didn’t want to spend it if she could get me to buy her what
she wanted.”

The couple have decided that
because their daughter is now attaching value and ownership to money, this is a
good time to help her manage it. “At school her class has learnt about
denominations and currency. We want to capitalise on that…” Mrs. Hosein said.

Teacher Wendy Birch’s sons, Ben and
James, get their monthly allowances paid into savings accounts. 

“As a teacher … at my school, we
actively encourage the children being given pocket money by their parents,” she
said. “We have real money in all the classrooms and at snack time … the
children are told how much I am charging for snack today and have to find the
right amount from the coin tubs, ring it up and pay for their snack… It
really helps mental maths skills, number bonds, multiplication and general
counting skills.”

Parents who don’t give pocket money

There were as many parents in the
no allowance camp, but fewer willing to stand up and be quoted. Helen and Kevin
Shinkwin have only one child at home now – teenage golfing prodigy Callum. “He
gets what he wants for his golf, anyhow,” said Mrs. Shinkwin.

“My mum used to give the others
pocket money when they were small, so they could buy their magazines… [It]
might be cheaper for me to give Callum pocket money. He never asks for a bean
though,” she said.

Mitchell and Shevaun Davies’ four
children, between ages 15 and 10, never used to get pocket money. Now, however,
with their eldest two at a UK boarding school, the couple put $500 in their
sons’ bank accounts at the start of each term, which their boys have to manage
for three months. “They’re certainly learning to budget and set priorities,”
Mrs. Davies said.

The last word on the matter went to
mother of two, Julie Lawrence, who said, “I never have given my girls pocket
money and I don’t believe in giving children money for doing chores, for the
simple reason that we as adults have to do many things that we don’t get paid


Pocket money can help children gain a strong grasp of the value of money.
Photo: File