‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’
If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve said that a few times — or more — to a child. Rare is the kid who doesn’t ask their parent to buy them something now and again. Or more. And rare is the parent who doesn’t have to deny most of those requests.
And when the child protests, you might refer to the old adage of money and trees, hoping the point will sink in. But does it?
It’s not the kids’ fault. Their brains are still growing. And besides, you do buy almost everything in their lives for them anyway. It’s only natural for them not to understand the value of money.
Which is why, ironically, giving them some pocket money to spend — on their own — is an effective way to teach them that lesson.
In this article, we’ll cover how much pocket money to give, the average pocket money in the UK, and how to manage your child’s pocket money.
Why give pocket money?
There are many good benefits of pocket money:
- It gives kids a sense of responsibility. When they have to make their own decisions on spending, it forces them to engage in more introspection.
- It teaches them about money management. Once they see that their money supply is finite — it doesn’t grow on trees! — they might be inspired to learn how to budget, save, and prioritise.
- It shows them the value of work. If you tie their allowance to certain chores or achievements (good school grades, for instance), they’ll start to learn about the relationship between work and earnings.
- It gives them a headstart on life. Money management — mysteriously — is usually not taught in school. So giving your kids pocket money early on helps teach them things they wouldn’t otherwise learn until adulthood.
- It gives you a little break. Giving your kids pocket money probably won’t keep them from asking you to buy them things ever again, but it will give you a better response than the trees bit. You can tell them to save up their own money, and maybe promise to match it if they save up a certain amount.
How much pocket money to give your child?
There’s no universal ideal amount of pocket money to give a child. It’s entirely up to you. You’d do well to consider their age, their needs and hobbies, the kinds of things they tend to desire, the cost of living in your area, and your family’s budget.
You’d also do well to consider their personality and current sense of responsibility. No one knows your child better than you. A child who’s already fairly mature, and has a good sense of responsibility, can probably stand to carry around a little more money. Not only might they ‘deserve’ it, but being responsible for more money will teach them more.
A child who has room to mature, and might be a little careless, should be started on a smaller allowance. Once they show that their sense of responsibility is growing, you can start to give them a little more.
Average pocket money allowance in the UK
Another good way to decide how much pocket money to give your child is to look at the averages out there. To use those who’ve gone before you as a guide.
There are a lot of good resources out there that will show you how much parents tend to give. According to the BBC, in 2019, the average girl got £7.09 a week, and the average boy got £6.91. According to MoneyHelper, ‘The 2020 average weekly amount of pocket money given to children [was] £11.70, which can be made up through an allowance or earned through doing household chores.’
According to Statista, the average was £7.55 in 2020, and £6.48 in 2021. Perhaps the decrease reflected declining household incomes, and a flagging economy. Finally, this Statista article shows averages by age, from 4 to 14 — for 2020 (£4.12 to £11.62).
Like we said, there’s no all-purpose set amount. But we can see that the averages hover around £7-10, and don’t exceed £12. These are good guardrails. Also remember that siblings will surely evaluate their pocket money against each other, so keep a sense of fairness in mind.
At what age should parents start giving pocket money?
It’s tough to find an average age to start giving pocket money, but according to Halifax, ‘21% of kids aged eight to 15 expect to receive pocket money until they turn 18, whilst the average age that parents plan to stop paying pocket money is 17, with one in ten (11%) doing so at age 15 or below.’
But you might recall that the Statista article above showed that many children start receiving pocket money as young as four years old. The same Halifax article says that ‘More than four in 10 (44%) of parents think children should only get pocket money if they do chores and more than half of children (55%) feel they should be given money, regardless of whether they do anything to earn it.’
Ultimately, it’s completely up to you to decide when to start giving your child pocket money. But we can’t help but feel that tying it to chores can only benefit your child — and you — all the more.
How to give pocket money?
There are two main ways to give a child pocket money:
1. Cash. Pretty simple. Each week or month, you give the child a given amount in bills.
Advantages: Cash is easy for you to get, your child will have a physical, tactile sense of the money they’re spending, and cash can’t be spent online (you might consider this a disadvantage as well).
Disadvantages: You’ll have no real way of tracking what your child buys, and, at the risk of sounding dark, cash leaves a child open to theft and mugging. And if you don’t mind your kid spending online, cash is not a practical choice.
2. Debit card. There are multiple debit card offerings out there for kids.
Advantages: Giving your child a debit card lets you see everything they buy. Apps like Hyperjar, whose kids’ offering is free, let you set spending limits and monitor their transactions in real time. And since it’s prepaid, they’ll never be able to overdraft.
Just as cool: your child can get a kids’ version of the app, so they can visualise their own spending too. And of course, they can spend online. A debit card also gives your child more safety since you can cancel it at any time.
Disadvantages: You’ll have to spend a few moments ordering a card, and downloading a new app. And some parents might not want their child spending online.
What can pocket money be spent on?
According to this Tech Times article, in 2021, the most popular things for kids to spend their pocket money on were Roblox, Fortnite, Playstation, sweets, and books and magazines, in that order.
But really, what your own child can spend their pocket money on should be completely up to you. In this case, tech certainly trumps cash, which can’t be controlled or tracked.
Apps like HyperJar let you set boundaries for where your child can spend their money, and where they can’t. Don’t want them spending on Fortnite? You can cut it off. Don’t want them buying sweets? You can cut candy shops off too. Want to encourage them to buy books? You can leave all bookstores open.
5 pocket money tips for parents
Finally, here are some tips to keep in mind when giving your kids pocket money.
- Give them the chance to earn pocket money by doing chores. Cleaning their room, setting or clearing the table, or taking out the rubbish are popular choices.
- Give them the chance to earn by getting good grades. If your child isn’t performing too highly in school, this could be a good way to motivate them. If they’re already doing well, it will reaffirm that behaviour.
- Give them a set amount each week. If you vary the amount you give your child, it will be hard for them to learn about budgeting. Make sure to be consistent.
- Help them to understand the concept of interest. Let them open a savings account. You can do this through your bank, but apps like HyperJar also offer an annual growth rate if your child commits money to certain vendors (the money has to be spent with that vendor, though).
Show them how to shop thoughtfully. Teach your kids about shopping around for the best deals, and also about waiting a certain amount of time before they buy something, so they can tell if they really need it, or just want it.