Yes, you read correctly. That mean woman doesn’t give her children any pocket money.
Well, they don’t get any traditional, set-day, hold-out-your-hand-if-you’ve-been-good pocket money.
Last week a press release issued by a bank (I’m not going to give them more publicity) turned into a news story. Despite the recession and the ridiculous hike in the cost of living, children have apparently seen a rise in their pocket money.
Oh, and consistent with the unequal grown up world, boys get more cash than girls.
The figures show a third-from-bottom ranking for the East Midlands, with an average £5.62 a week.
The national average for 12-year-olds is £6.60 with a whopping 8p increase on that for being 13.
We used to give pocket money, briefly, when Jed and Dougie were aged around four and five. It was around £1 each.
We did it to encourage them to learn about money, about how you need to save for things you want, rather than nag your parents every time you saw a new toy/chocolate bar/balloon/ball/comic. Chores had to be done and behaviour good to earn that weekly hand-out. It could also be withheld.
It soon became clear that a) the boys weren’t very good at remembering they were due pocket money b) we weren’t very good at remembering to give it to them. Piggy banks became stuffed with IOUs.
It sounds a lot to me, and I know what would happen if I stood and doled out £5.62 a week into each of my kids’ waiting palms.
Jed and Dougie would race to the Co-op, spend it on sweets and then fight over them.
Billy would squirrel his away in one of his many piggy banks then nag daily about going somewhere to spend it all on Star Wars cards.
Meanwhile, Bonnie just thinks money is something to post between floorboards.
Unlike our parents’ generation, for whom household money talk happened away from little ears, we have always been candid with our offspring about cash, especially the fact we never seem to have much.
We’ve tried to be honest: there are things you need and the things you want. We taught them that if you want something you need to save.
They’ve all got junior bank accounts holding varying sums: the two littlest have healthy statements because their birthday and Christmas money has been saved over the years and I hold their bank books.
However the two elder boys were sent their own cash-point cards once they turned 12. This means they’ve all but emptied their accounts getting out a tenner here and there for sweets and pop, so I’ve taken guardianship of the cards.
Eldest now has a paper round which pays less than a fiver a week, but at least he’s earning.
While I might be mean old Ma, they are given ‘pocket money’ by relatives and friends. Both sets of grandparents sneak little envelopes of cash to the kids, as do fairy godmothers and child-free friends.
Embarrassingly, even strangers have given our kids pocket money.
Once, while waiting on the corner of Billing Road and Cheyne Walk, Billy, then aged 6, was reading aloud the faded inscription on the Edward VII memorial. An elderly gentleman, clearly delighted at this effort, tried to give Billy a pound coin, then realised it was a bit of an odd thing to do, and tried to give it to me to ‘reward’ him instead.
Similarly, at a recent concert, Billy was unself-consciously dancing his socks off, and a nearby security lady was so impressed she told him he should dance for a living and handed him yet more “pocket money.” Confusing messages: Don’t accept gifts from strangers/Money should be earned.
Without pocket money, the boys have become very good at negotiating deals between each other. They sell their used computer games on eBay and pool their takings to buy newer games, or computer game credits.
They also save up and contribute towards any expensive school or sporting trips that they know we just wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, due to there being four kids in the family.
Now I don’t give pocket money each week, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get anything.
The older two got mobile phones when they turned 12, but not on contract. I pay £10 a month for each to have phone credit, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Then they get ‘tuck’ money when they go to various clubs and activities. That’s usually about a £1 each a couple of times a week. Or comics, which happens about once a month for the smaller two.
And there are the random, increasingly rare occasions when I’m in a good mood in a shop and they ask sweetly for sweeties. Add it all up and they probably do get about a fiver each, maybe just not every week on the same day.
Kids might be getting a rise in pocket money, but they are getting hit by inflation even more than us. Children’s typical purchases include sweets and chocolates, which have seen a 24 per cent price hike. Games consoles are up by 27 per cent, while mobile phones have increased by 10.4 per cent.
And children are affected too by cuts: many parents have reduced the amount of pocket money, or stopped it all together, while children’s bank accounts have some of the worst interest rates. Poor kids. . .