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?