Daughter: ‘‘Can I have a fidget spinner?’’
Me: ‘‘No, I don’t want to spend my money on that.’’
Daughter: ‘‘Please, Everyone at school’s got one.’’
Me: ‘‘No, it’s a waste of the world’s resources.’’
Sometimes, I am pleased to say no. My mum believed children shouldn’t get everything they want. I agree.
When I was my daughter’s age, there was no point in asking for money to buy stuff.
In the 1970s nobody had money to spare. Pocket money was fairly minimal. I can’t even remember receiving it.
I only got spending power with my first newspaper round. Until then, I had to rely on Christmas and birthday for new stuff.
These days, it is fashionable to ‘‘financialise’’ your children early through elaborately micromanaged pocket money systems.
The kids can spend a third, save a third, and give a third away to charity. Set your children an example Be open about money Expect self-restraint
Some parents tie pocket money to chores.
My parents didn’t tell me what to do with my money.
Initially, I spent it on sweets because that’s all I could afford. Later with my own earnings, I transitioned from Star Wars toys to books, records, clothes and beer.
Despite not being ‘‘taught’’ (forced) to restrain spending, be charitable and to save hard, I do both, like my parents did.
My experience has made me a pocket money heretic. I have my doubts as to the educational value of pocket money to a girl my daughter’s age. It’s one of the reasons she doesn’t get any yet.
There are others, including because she doesn’t need it. Getting pocket money at a young age encourages recreational shopping (shudder), and spending on sweets and cheap junk.
In many families pocket money for young children isn’t the best use of money.
The median pocket money for girls my daughter’s age is $20. That’s a grand a year!
Children’s happiness is less improved by $20 in hand, than by knowing you’ve paid off the mortgage (and how you did it), have adequate insurance, and the family could live off one parent’s income if the other lost their job.
If my daughter has a reasonable need, or want, she can talk to me or her mum about it.
In time, she’ll need money as she becomes increasingly independent and her social life requires it. When she makes that case convincingly, she’ll win the argument.
There are four key elements to a child’s money education: 1: Learning self-restraint.
2: The example parents set.
3: A chatty, ‘‘ask me anything’’ culture at home.
4: Long-term savings that are talked about.
Fail to have any of those, especially the first, and an elaborate, incentives-based pocket money system ain’t going to help.
Parents, get your own financial houses in order, before you worry about the children’s!
When my daughter starts needing pocket money, I won’t tie it to chores. A child’s ‘‘job’’ is to learn. Help is expected.
In fact, like many girls her age, my daughter spends hours each week doing a ‘‘chore’’ to support the household: She goes to after school care.
We’ve built a society where it takes two good salaries to get ahead. That’s a hell of a contribution to ask of a child.
Please, please, please. I want a fidget spinner. Everyone’s got one.