The pocket money problem

How much is too much when it comes to pocket money for a seven-year-old boy?

While our children do pretty well out of us when it comes to birthdays, Christmases and general treats, they aren’t spoiled rotten. They’ve been brought up to learn that they don’t always get something whenever we go out – except for babyccinos, which are a basic human right as far as they are concerned – and that Daddy isn’t a bottomless pit of money, despite a recent spending spree (new car, new kitchen, new iMac) that might suggest the contrary.

Isaac’s always been a mature and responsible boy and, at nearly 7½, is now at an age where his spending horizons are expanding rapidly. He wants Google Play Store credits so he can download apps to his tablet,  a habit which he gets from me. He has a love of stationery, which he gets from me. Basically, he can’t walk into a shop without his eye being caught by some shiny new bauble, which he gets from … well, you get the idea.

It’s now time he learned to make his own decisions with money independently, rather than making constant withdrawals from the Bank of Mum and Dad. It’s time for him to start receiving pocket money.

According to an Aviva survey I found from a year or so ago, five to eight-year-olds who are given pocket money receive an average of £2.62 per week. That tallies with my own quick research on the Mumsnet and Netmums forums which suggested that the consensus amount for a seven-year-old was around £2.

Coincidentally, £2 per week was the same number that both Heather and I independently came up with, so that’s where we’re going to start Isaac off, with the opportunity to top up his earnings if he does things over and above what we normally expect of him.

We probably won’t start Toby on pocket money yet, even though that potentially creates a tricky divide between the boys. At five, he’s a bit too young to make decisions more complex than “I want it and I want it now” with any money that he’s given. At the same time, we don’t want to create an inequitable situation where he continues to get stuff for free that Isaac is now expected to pay for out of his own pocket. We’re working on how to manage that one.

Both boys have also expressed a desire to buy an Xbox and agreed that this is something they want to save up for. So we’ve also given them a joint rewards jar into which we will put money whenever we’ve deemed they have done something particularly noteworthy either at school or home. Hopefully it will teach them that, in addition to what they get for birthdays and Christmas, there are big things that are worth saving up for that don’t just magically turn up gift-wrapped one day.

I’m curious to see how Isaac deals with his new financial status. Will he spend all his money on sweets, downloads and Minecraft-related paraphernalia? Or will he save his money up for a rainy day? Either way, it will be his money and his responsibility. As long as we don’t suddenly start getting demands from Wonga to repay outstanding loans, that is …

Do you give your kids pocket money, and if so when did you start them and how much did you give them? Any top tips would be gratefully received!


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