Someone I know gives their kid (about 10-11yrs old) $5 each week. It doesn't seem like much, especially as part of the deal in that particular situation is that the child has to give 10% (50c) and save 50% ($2.50) which doesn't leave them much left to spend. In today's society, $2 can disappear awfully fast!
Then I stopped and realised that this child receives almost as much pocket money a week as I do! I am 29 years old, and get $25 a month. Yup. $25 a month (which is about $6-7 a week). That's all mine. I can do whatever I want with it. The rest of our budget is not for me to do whatever I want with...not even any spare change from the groceries or parking meter money. We are living pretty tight, so this is kind of how it has to be. But in saying that, we instigated pocket money about 5 years ago. It is very useful. It helps keep you accountable in other areas - leaving more money for family goals and needs, as you fulfill your own wants with your own allowance. Anita Bell suggests a Sanity Allowance in her books about housing (How to Pay off a Mortgage in 5 Years by Someone Who Did it in 3). In her suggestion, each person buys clothes, personal food, birthday presents, etc out of it - basically anything not a fixed bill. We run our budget a bit differently. Things like birthdays and clothing are a budgeted expense. Personal items like shampoo or deodorant come out of grocery money. So our pocket money is really just for splurging on personal desires. When we first did it, I had MILE long list of things I just HAD to have. Over time, the pull of that list has diminished. I am learning to live in contentment with much less than I ever used to think I could. It is a long journey, and one I am sure is not over yet. Sometimes I wonder what the point is. Why can't I have, or at least want, more? But I realise that in order to do some of the things I feel God has made me for, I am going to need to show good stewardship. Having less 'stuff' also frees me to focus on other things - instead of cleaning all my knick-nacks, I can be spending time with a friend, or knitting another peggy square for orphans, or being outside getting some much needed exercise and being refreshed by the outdoors.
We really like having our own allowance each. It gives just a little bit of freedom to be frivolous. Not very frivolous, mind you, but enough to help ward off the constant 'I wants' of modern society. I must admit that when we were earning well in our last year before returning from North QLD to NZ, we did increase our pocket money to $50 each a month. Bliss. It would be nice to have enough to buy 1 cd or 1 average priced book a month (i.e. $35 a month) but I can't see that happening anytime soon. Grin. In the meantime, I am at present very happily squirrelling my pocket money away to build a chook cage. It will take 6 month, and I'm maybe almost halfway there.
Back to pocket money for kids. $5 a week doesn't sound so bad to me now that I realised I don't get much more than that. I really like the ideas that Eilleen at Consumption Rebellion has regarding pocket money. Her kids have to show that they understand what money is and how to manage it (like counting 1s, 5s, and 10s and having a longerterm savings goal). I imagine we might do something similar to this, once Munchkin is older. He will be expected to do household chores just because he is part of the family, although I imagine his dad will probably come up with a few 'extras' he can do to earn more cash (like washing the car - might mean it gets done more than biannually!).
Did you/do you give your kids or yourself pocket money? What are the benefits, do you think?
Sunday, 17th April, 2011