Introducing pocket money to your child – how much? When? And how often?
My mum recently told me that my 7 year old should start appreciating the value of money by receiving a regular allowance, so I plucked a random figure out of the air (AED 10) and decided that he should get it every Sunday (or when I remember – poor kid is currently about AED 200 down). We’ve since spoken to a few friends and changed our tactics, only doling out the dosh if my son completes a few chores each week so that he really does understand that hard work pays off and doesn’t just come to me with his hand outstretched like it’s his divine right!
The whole allowance thing can be daunting – give them too little and you’ll be the meanest mama on the block or hand out too much and you’re at risk of creating a spoilt brat. And while pocket money is almost a rite of passage for kids, giving it to them too early could mean they won’t understand the value of it or come to expect to be given money “just because”. I’ve heard stories of 4-year-olds being handed notes only to throw them around the house – not ideal!
Amongst my friends, the general consensus is that between the ages of 6 – 8 is around the right age for kids to start getting some money of their own because there’s no point in starting with children who don’t have a grasp on maths yet. There’s also the argument that it should start right after the tooth fairy starts to visit so that they can begin to save those magic coins – and also to link it with something that the kids want (new toys etc) that they can start saving for themselves.
Most mamas I spoke with agreed that an allowance should come as part of an agreement that they’ll have to earn it. Emma, whose kids are now 12 and 14, says she started a little later when her eldest was 11 and her youngest 9, awarding them AED 20 each week if they ticked off everything on their list and removing the privilege of a weekly allowance if they didn’t. And her other tip? Not to actually hand over cash which can easily get misplaced but rather to use a fab app called Allowance Manager which you can use via the web or on your mobile and which solves that problem of forgetting the occasional week of pocket money (guilty!) by automatically adding pocket money weekly plus being able to reference which of the kids is getting how much and why. Emma says she specified an amount to post to each of her kids “accounts” and then gets a little message every time it happens – she can also add extras like Christmas money from grandparents or a “bonus” for VERY good behaviour!
So how about those chores then? Well here are a few you could list for starters if you’re looking to get going with pocket money each week:
- Make your bed
- Turn off all lights (is anyone else’s house left lit like a Christmas tree after they’ve left for school?!)
- Put all laundry in the laundry basket
- Lay the table
- Clear the table
- Load/unload the dishwasher
- Help with any pets (walking dogs, feeding cats etc)
- Prepare everything for school the next day – from uniform to book bags etc
- Help with extras like carrying groceries from the car or cooking etc.
Don’t like the idea of linking chores to money? (ok yes, our kids should be doing more around the house and not expecting to get paid for it!) – then how about using weekly pocket money as a maths exercise where they need to add what they have or subtract what they’ve spent plus figure out how much they need and how long it’ll take them to get it before they can buy that toy/dress/Ferrari?
We can use money to instil values, to talk about charity and to help our kids pay for their own things even by starting with a few dirhams each week. That said, I’m off to pay my debts to my 7-year-old!
This article was soriginally published on Sassy Mama Dubai on 8 November 2017.