What age should I give pocket money?

Libby is 3 years old. She will be 4 in June and starts school in September. Last week, she had her first ever pocket money. I have been asking myself, at what age should I give pocket money?

And in the end, it seemed to come naturally. She has started to want things and understand that things have to be paid for, and that she can’t have everything she asks for.

This seemed like the right time. So, why have I started to give her pocket money so young?

1. Learning about spending

Libby is slowly starting to learn what each coin means. She can find a 5p piece, a 10p piece and a £1 coin. She knows that she can get more sweets with 10p than 5p and she knows that if she spends her whole 50p on Monday then she can’t have anything else.

2. Learning about saving

Last week, Libby wanted some sweets from her drama class. She only wanted to spend 5p so that she would still have some money for the rest of the week.

The next day, Libby asked me to take her to the charity shop so that she could spend her remaining 45p. We had a look at all the toys but they all cost more than 45p.

There was a lovely Octonauts rucksack that was £1.95. It is something that I would usually have bought for her because it would be useful. But this time, she learnt that if she wanted it, she would have to save up.

We talked about how many weeks it would take her to get enough money together. There was no suggestion of me lending her the money until she had enough – I don’t want her to learn that it’s okay to borrow money so that you can have what you want before you can afford it.

3. Learning about charities

Every week, Libby has £1.00 of pocket money. Of that, 50p is for her to keep and 50p is for her to give to charity. This may seem a little harsh, but actually we were only going to give her 50p for herself. I gave her the extra because I think it’s important that she starts to learn that not everybody is as well off as her.

So, every week when she gets her pocket money, we talk about charities. We talk about the fact that sometimes, people and animals need a little bit of help. If we can, we help them ourselves but if we can’t, we can give some money to a charity so that they can help.

Then she chooses who she wants to help that week. Last week she wanted to help monkeys so we gave her 50p to a monkey charity. This week it’s pandas so we’re going to have a look online tomorrow and find a panda charity to give her 50p to.

She is young to learn about charity, but it is an important lesson and I want her to know that she can do little things to help other people.

She has said that next Christmas, she would like to save up her money and take part in a shoebox appeal so that a child who wouldn’t otherwise get a Christmas present can have one.

4. Learning about decision making 

We have a moneybox for Libby to keep her pocket money in. Last week, she was told that she could take her money out when she wanted to spend it.

By Tuesday, she had spent 40p but still had 10p left. I told her to put it in her money box so she doesn’t lose it but she insisted on keeping it in her pocket in case she wanted to buy something.

Of course, by the end of the week she had lost it. This week, she’s happy to keep her money in her money box until she needs it. Mistakes are life’s greatest lessons.

5. Learning about responsibility 

Since having her own bit of pocket money, Libby has started to feel a bit more responsible. She knows that she has her own decisions to make and that she can help other people through those decisions.

In time, she will develop a sense of social responsibility. For now, she feels a little bit responsible for her sister – she shared her sweets with Lia today because Lia didn’t have any pocket money to buy sweets.

We also intend to introduce the opportunity to earn a little bit more money each week through minor chores when she is ready.

When there is something useful that she wants to save up for, I will draw up a little list of how she can earn some money. I will then give her a few pence each time for laying and clearing the table, vacuuming the rug or doing other minor things that she is able to do. I hope that this will teach her that hard work can be rewarding.

At what age do you think it is appropriate to give pocket money to children?

What age should I give pocket money? A mum explains the lessons that can be learned from pocket money. A family, travel and lifestyle blog.

13 thoughts on “What age should I give pocket money?

  1. Sam

    I think there is no age at which it appropriate to give children pocket money. I’m very young, 23, but I can tell you that at no time during my childhood did I ever receive an “allowance” or pocket money. I did receive money in greeting cards on my birthday and at Christmas, however. I will note that I grew up in a middle or upper-middle class family, so a lack of funds was not the reason. I do not remember my parents ever telling me why they didn’t give me funds and I don’t remember ever asking. However, I found my own reasons and became proud of the fact. I know that if I ever have children I would want to raise them with the same birth-Christmas only policy. if I ever do marry, I don’t know what opinion my wife would have on that matter, and, I don’t know, we might end up doing things other than how I’d want to. However, the reason I oppose giving children pocket money is that I feel that NOT giving kids money actually is a far better way to teach them to save up their money and not spend it right away. I remember feel disgusted with my school friends whoever they bemoaned not having enough money to buy one big ticket item or another. At some point, many of these same friends told me that their parents gave them money. The most common arrangement seemed to be a payment once a week. I can tell you, most of them spent 90%+ of it, every week, on the most frivolous and short-lasting items imaginable. I couldn’t fathom why they would fritter away their money to vending machines and fast food restaurants at least once a day when they wanted to save-up for an expensive something-or-other. I think it’s because there was always more fresh money the next week. Why not spend it all? There’ll be more in a few days. I, on the other hand, coveted my money. Like a good little miser, I hung onto it for long periods of time and hardly ever bought anything. If people are going to give their children pocket money, then I think once a week is too often. It’s a valuable lesson to have empty pockets for months instead of a week at most. One might wonder how I stayed in clothes or had supplies for school given this situation.The answer is that anytime I needed new pants, new socks, etc… I would tell my parents and they were happy to buy such things when the time arose. I think it’s important that if you raise your kids this way though to do it carefully. My parents never bought me clothes just because I thought they were “cool;” it was because I had outgrown the old things or they got worn out. This is in contrast to at least one school friend I had who bought new Nike brand sneakers once or twice a month for incredibly shallow reasons. The reason I was not paid an allowance was not because my parents would just buy me anything I asked them to. Many times Is saw things that appealed to me, but the answer was no. No candy or sweets except easter and some other holidays. If I wanted something it had to be durable and long-lasting, not an ephemeral thing consumed and forgotten in a moment.

  2. Sara-Jayne

    Hmmm. My boys are 1, 3 and 5. None of them have pocket money from me yet, but I’m thinking of starting when my middle son begins school in September. I love the charity aspect to your idea – my boys are always very keen to put money into the supermarket charity boxes and we always talk about what charity means. I think it gives children a sense of great achievement to help others, and themselves by saving money.

  3. Ellie @ Hand Me Down Baby

    Oooh, this is a really interesting topic.
    We haven’t started to think about it yet as Little Miss A is still quite young (2 1/2), but I like the way you’ve set it up. We might follow Dave Ramsey’s suggestion though, and pay “commission” instead of pocket money.
    The concept being that there are certain chores children have to do just because they’re part of the family – tidying their toys or putting their laundry in the basket at the end of the day for example. But then there are extra chores they can do to earn commission, as you mentioned.
    As for what age to start, I think you’ve taken a great approach being led by your little girl. But probably by the time they start school – or shortly thereafter – they should start to learn in age-appropriate ways.
    Great post!
    Ellie @ Hand Me Down Baby recently posted…An Extended Holiday Season HiatusMy Profile

  4. Agent Spitback

    Fantastic! Those are good lessons to learn! I wasn’t too sure myself. I started when my oldest child started Primary School and would need money to spend at the school canteen. He wasn’t very interested before then. But then the younger one who has not in school yet also started asking for an allowance. I bought them two piggy banks and we started learning the value of the dollar together! I had to laugh when they became excited about the Gold coin, in our case, which is a dollar! They thought a dollar could buy many many things at the shop. I remembered the first time my son realised how long he would need to save up for a toy he wanted that was $10!
    Agent Spitback recently posted…A bit of Everything Week 12My Profile

  5. Baby Isabella

    That’s great to teach her the value of money! Love the fact that you make her think about charities too! I’m only 2 so a bit young, occasionally I give shopkeepers my mummy’s money in exchange for items, so I can see what buying is all about, but I’ve never been given my own pocket money. Maybe at school age…
    Baby Isabella recently posted…No more tears with the Akord Bath HatMy Profile

  6. Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops

    Oh wow so many wonderful lessons to be learnt here. I love that part of her pocket money goes to charity. And she is already learning so many vital life skills about saving and keeping money safe. My daughter has just turned two so no pocket yet here. But when we do start I am going to remember this post (with the help of the fact I have pinned it!)
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…Silver Cross Ranger Doll’s Pram ReviewMy Profile

  7. Sonia

    The earlier kids are introduced to money is a great thing in my opinion. I never got pocket money when I was little and I really hated that, all of my friends seemed to, it did encourage me to go out and get work from an early age though. Paper round at 9, waitress at 11… things are a lot different now though xx
    Sonia recently posted…Instagram Weekly 4th-10th Jan 2016My Profile

  8. Debbie

    Hi Natalie, I think using the approach you’ve taken, it’s never too early to start teaching children about the value of money. Libby is learning some valuable lessons at a young age, which will set her up nicely for when she’s older. Looking after money and budgeting are both life skills that should probably be covered a little in school. Having her own money will also help with her maths skills and giving a little away to charity each week will teach her compassion.

    I think you’re doing a great job!

    Debbie recently posted…What A Busy Week!My Profile

  9. A Cornish Mum

    My boys are obviously older, but I’ve always had them do odd jobs that were age appropriate around the house to ‘earn’ their pocket money, it really is never too young to get them appreciating the value of money. Plus the things they buy mean a lot more to them when they’ve worked for it 🙂

    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Real Mums and Real WomenMy Profile


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