Monday, March 26, 2007

Pocket Money

Is it a good idea to give children pocket money? I think it is. We learn to manage, to deal with what we have, so if we want them to deal with money appropriately... The right time should be around when children start school. Don't wait for the notion of money to fall from somewhere or hope that they will be good consumers at once. Kids even start consuming way before school time. I believe that children who buy impulsively at the age of 6 have a chance to avoid doing that later. They will buy cheap stuff that will break after 2 minutes, cry like crazy and forget. Or, better, not forget. Remember it next time they feel like buying other cheap knick-knacks. It's when you experiment "for real" that you remember best. Giving children allowance, at first, often means letting them waste their money and talking about it afterwards. Real life for real learning!

Should you ask for anything in return? Nope, not a good idea... If chores -whatever they are- become paid jobs, you're stuck in the wrong paradigm, no one will get out of it a winner. Pocket money is a way to learn, not a salary. Of course, if there's a major situation it can be used as punishment (we're talking something exceptional) because it still is a privilege. And privileges can be lost. Avoid blackmail though, it won't serve your goal (I don't mind, I'd rather have you keep my allowance and you end up playing a very dull game).

How much? It depends on different factors: age, needs and available resources. A few years ago I received a substantial raise, my daughters received a raise as well, it was a celebration for everyone! The important thing is to evaluate and discuss this aspect with your children.

How often? If you want your children to learn to work on a budget (yes, yes, it's possible!) or plan to buy more expensive items it has to be done on a regular basis. Personally, I give it to my children the same day I receive my pay check. So every 2 weeks, on Thursday, it's allowance time. And I'm dealing with it. It's not the children who have to come see me and ask for their allowance. I am their model of reliability and it's so important...

Can children learn to buy smartly? Of course! With their money, my daughters take the time to analyze their needs (do I want it or do I need it?), check prices and quality. In fact to make pocket money a satisfying and rich experience, you need to talk with your children. You must explain taxes, hidden fees, marketing techniques -that are very aggressive- and encourage them to save (open a bank account with and for them, make sure they have their own ATM card, hey, we're in 2007!). My next experience with my daughters: manage money over the Internet and in a few years, credit cards. My my, still lots to do. Well, that's life, right?

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