A few weeks ago we made a decision. After noticing an increasing amount of, “But I want THAT Mummy!” and, “But WHY can’t I have ten magazines, a bar of chocolate and a new princess outfit Daddy?!” the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and I decided to start teaching our daughter the value of money.
The thing is, our daughter only turned four years old last weekend. Money is still a pretty foreign concept to her. She thinks the cashpoint is a magic place that just spurts out tenners to whoever has a finger to press the buttons. Numbers are a new addition to her vocabulary – she’s proud as punch if she can count to 35 without stopping.
But when exactly is the right time to start teaching children about the value of cold hard cash? Although she has a savings account, Frog doesn’t really have a grasp on the notion of what money is and why she needs it. She knows her mum and dad have to go to work to earn money to pay for things, but I think she half-thinks this is just a ruse to get her to go obediently to pre-school without making a fuss.
We put money into her savings every month and, one day, I hope she’ll spend it on something sensible. But how do you teach children the value of money before that day comes?
While we don’t have the answer to this, we thought we’d try an experiment. So, a few weeks ago we introduced the “Job Jar”. Frog gets £1 every Friday when her dad gets home from work, if we’re all agreed she’s pulled her weight when she’s been asked to. Basic tasks involve tidying her toys away when she’s finished playing with them and helping to set the table before tea time.
We gave her a big jam jar, separate to her money box, so she could actually see the money grow inside each week. She wrote her name on a sticky label and, underneath, I wrote “Jobs money”.
The physical act of putting the money in the jar is proving a valuable part of the money lesson – and one which Frog is very much involved in. And she’s just as involved in the discussion over whether she has “earned” her jobs money each week. Note – we call it “jobs money”, not “pocket money”, in the hope she’ll put the concept of work and cash together.
The idea is that, over time, Frog will see the money grow and use it to buy the things she regularly asks for. Of course she still gets the odd treat (a regular Peppa Pig magazine being her favourite) and we still expect her to help out without being paid – getting dressed herself, keeping her room tidy and brushing her teeth without a fuss are all non-paid events in our house.
But is four too young for pocket money? Liz from Me and My Shadow is another pocket money fan, although her daughter is a little older than ours. “We give £2 per week to our 6 year old in exchange for cleaning her room and playroom and setting the table every day,” says Liz. “She saves it up and buys what she likes with it. I think it’s helping her learn the value of money.”
Penny at Parent Shaped also uses a reward system to teach her kids about the value of money, although hers is a little more advanced than ours. “We have a small set amount and a bonus. We have a chalkboard to record this – a smiley face is a pound, a point is 10p and we give the children points and smiley faces for positive stuff they do. It works really well.”
Kate at Kate Takes 5 is another one to use pocket money to her advantage. “My kids started getting pocket money as soon as they understood how bribes worked,” she jokes. “Fortunately 2 out of 3 of them are still young enough to be palmed off with 50p. 50p is the answer to everything when you’re 5.”
But not everyone is down with the idea of pocket money. Joy from Pinkoddy’s Blog isn’t a fan. She explains, “We don’t do pocket money as we believe chores should be done without reward.”
So what do you think? Is four too young to introduce the concept of cash? When did you start giving your children pocket money? Or are you against the idea altogether?
Disclosure: This is a commissioned post but all views and words remain my own.