Pocket money

imageI last blogged about kids getting (or not getting) pocket money August 20th, 2013. Since then, my position on pocket money hasn’t changed. I personally don’t believe in it & I personally don’t believe my children should be paid for doing chores around the home. I would love to hear your views on why or why not you give your children pocket money.

Whilst thinking about the whole concept of pocket money, I pondered the question – does giving pocket money to our children encourage a ‘welfare’ mentality? I am sure it doesn’t, but it is something we have to consider, where you get money for nothing and you are not encouraged to get out there and work yourself to earn money because there is no need. Thinking on, it also led me to question whether pocket money being given regularly actually causes teenagers to not extend themselves and get a job as soon as they can (eg 14 years and 9 months in Australia) as the adults are happy to keep paying them to concentrate on their studies and enjoy their life. Meanwhile, they are not being taught responsibility and the adults are working harder to pay for increasing costs as their children grow older and consume more.

When I had my first child, God gave me a Bible verse – Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Thus, with various decisions hubby and I need to make in raising our children to be world changers, we question whether it is a cultural pattern/value or a God value/pattern. Educating our children was one of those decisions, and we chose to home school. This is extremely countercultural in Australia where we live. I don’t go around encouraging parents to home school their children, but I do strongly encourage parents to think seriously about their child’s education and not just follow society and put them into school when that may not be the best action for them.

We expect our children to help in regard to keeping the house in order, which includes various chores that are age appropriate. Our kids do not get paid to do them. Hubby and I don’t get paid to do chores around the home. It is part of being in our family and living in our home. Princess (13) and Matey (10) currently do just about all of the washing and wiping up (they have worked out a system where Matey washes and Princess wipes and there are no arguments and they just automatically get in and do it), put out the washing, bring in the washing and sort it, weed the garden, clean the toilets and bathroom, sweep the verandah, cook any food needed when guests are visiting eg afternoon tea, make breakfast and lunch for themselves and usually me and cook the dinner several times per week.

Up until now, our children haven’t needed any pocket money. When we would go to the shops when they were younger, they would ask for lollies or useless little toys, but we didn’t have the money to buy them and they weren’t necessary. If the kids had had pocket money, they probably would have bought them with their pocket money, but they weren’t a necessity. I don’t go out and by needless little things all the time. I believe it is wise stewardship to save those little bits of money and spend it either on something worthwhile or someone in need eg sponsoring a teacher/child overseas. I wonder what we are actually teaching them if we allow them to have money that they are using to buy useless bits of junk/toys that soon break.

About 20 years ago, I heard John Maxwell, a leadership expert from the US, speak about his kids and pocket money. He said, “If you want your kids to grow up and be a garbage collector (not that there is anything wrong with that), then pay them to take out the trash. If you want your kids to become leaders, then pay them to read leadership books”. We are at that stage where hubby and I are discussing this now in regard to Princess and books we want her to read and the discuss with us.

Our kids are also at the stage where they can earn a little bit of money if they want to. Matey goes to work with hubby in our garden cleanup business once every few weeks. Matey will work really hard for several hours stacking pavers or carting rubbish or lawn mowing or being responsible for getting all the water out of the holes for a retaining wall. Hubby will give him some money for helping as he really works hard and saves the guys some time. (After a couple of hours, he becomes a bit distracted and plays a bit.) Currently Matey will then buy himself and hubby a drink on the way home out of that money, something Matey wants to do as he is a very generous person, and then will bank the rest. He recently also earned $10 from the neighbour by feeding their dog dinner and breakfast when they went away overnight. The neighbour was thrilled as Matey was totally shocked when they paid him. They had asked Matey and he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart, not hearing that it was a paid job. The neighbours are now planning on going away more and asked Matey and Princess to look after their dog. These are just some ways that they can earn money.

Princess currently loves getting gift cards for certain clothing stores for her birthday and Christmas. Over the years, I have found that when we are out shopping and she wanted something eg a new jumper and didn’t really need it, I would ask if it was something she was happy getting as part of her Christmas or birthday presents. 99% of the time, she quickly said no, and it made it easy for both of us to realise that it wasn’t necessary to buy it. Now that she has her own gift cards to spend, she is great at weighing up the fact that that is all the money she will now have for the next few months and only to buy what she really loves.

We are quite open within our family about money, bills, etc and use of money. We don’t want to burden the kids at all and become money focussed but we chat about things when we buy them and the kids are great at finding the best value items in the supermarket. We also chat about our giving and assess every so often what we are giving to and why and do we change it. Whenever there is a special opportunity to give to missions, we chat about it as a family and ask God how much we should give. It is very interesting to see how it pans out and now days we roughly all tend to say a similar amount.

Six years ago we saved for a mission trip to Africa for 3 months. We kept a jar on the bench and every time we saved money by not buying something when we were out, we would come home and put the cash in the jar. It quickly added up and the kids were amazed at how the choices we made can made a huge financial difference. The kids were often the ones leading the way with this.

We encourage saving with our kids and have doubled any money they have put in their saving accounts over the years. They now both have a nice amount put away and have never taken any money out of their bank accounts. They are both saving for their first car when they turn 18 and also a deposit for a house/flat. Hubby has had a number of secondary school students who have worked for him over the summer holidays and have earned enough for a car and this has inspired our children.

I encourage you to think about what you are modelling to your children and the values behind your actions. There is nothing wrong with pocket money in itself, just consider the different angles before you start down that track.