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A guide to pocket money

Published 23 April 2015 by

How much does your child get in pocket money each week? £2, £3…. £10? These aren’t uncommon amounts, but have you ever thought about how much it’s costing you over a longer period of time? Well, research recently conducted for us* has found that parents fork out more than £4000 in pocket money during a child’s school years – that’s a lot of money, so what are the things you should consider?

To give or not to give?

Our research shows that giving children pocket money in the UK is the norm, whether it’s from parents, grandparents or another family member. And why shouldn’t it be? It can teach kids the value of money and hopefully give them a bit of experience for when they’re older. Rather than pestering you for something when you’re in the supermarket, you can tell them that they have to budget out of what they have, or save up until they can afford it.

Should they have to work for it?

This really depends on you and your family but you could use it as an incentive for them to empty the dishwasher, do the vacuuming or tidy their room. Not only should this teach them that you have to earn your money, it’ll also give you a helping hand around the house!

You could occasionally allow them to earn extra cash, perhaps by cleaning the car, or cleaning out a cupboard space, again, encouraging the fact that when they’re older they’ll often have to work to earn money to spend.

Should there be rules?

Ideally, you need to be clear on what your kids’ pocket money should be used for so they’re clear on what you’ll pick up and what they need to budget for. For younger kids it could be a little toy, some sweets or magazine, but for older kids it could be a cinema trip with their pals, or new clothes and shoes. This should help them manage their own budget and will be a great bit of experience for them to have under their belt when they’re older and have to juggle household finances.

How much?

There’s no right or wrong about how much you should give your kids, but to help you out, our research showed that by the time a child reaches the age of four, on average, they receive £2.75 a week – that’s £143 a year. By the time a child is 7, they receive, on average £3.71 a week, or £193 a year. By the time they turn 13, they receive £8.13 a week, or £423 a year. This increases to more than £10 a week, or £520 a year, once they’re sixteen.

You shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t give your child as much as the average though, as every child and family is different!

How to budget for pocket money

If money is tight then it’s good to make sure that you only give them as much as you can afford. Include it in your monthly budget, so it’s accounted for every month, and if some months you can’t afford it, explain to your kids why. This will help them understand that sometimes they might not have spare cash to buy things that they don’t need.

If you have hardly any disposable income once all the bills have been paid, pocket money shouldn’t be something you feel obliged to give – there are perfectly happy children out there who don’t receive a penny, so don’t feel bad! Instead, if you do have a week where there’s a bit of spare cash, why not take them out for an ice cream or some sweets as a treat?

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 16th and 26th March, of whom 635 were Scottish residents.