How old is old enough to … get pocket money ?

| March 5, 2009
Topic of the Month

Does getting pocket money teach children the value of money and from what age can this lesson be taught with confidence that the message is getting through?

My 6 year old son has a tuck shop at his school and now and then he asks me for money to buy a treat at lunch time. Once in a while I oblige. On the days that I don’t think it is necessary, he tells me that his friends all get pocket money and that they don’t have to ask their parents for money to buy things at the tuck shop, they just use their pocket money when they want for what they want.

So, how old is old enough to get pocket money?

Topic of the MonthIn my books, it is probably somewhere around age 10 and should be well monitored so that it is not used for tuck shop, but for more useful expenditures like giving to charity, or saving up for something bigger than one week’s pocket can afford, but I’m interested to hear other peoples points of view on this.

Does getting pocket money teach children the value of money and from what age can this lesson be taught with confidence that the message is getting through?

Catherine Fritz-Kalish is co-founder and General Manager of Global Access Partners (GAP) – a proactive and influential network which initiates high-level discussions at the cutting edge of the most pressing commercial, social and global issues of today. Catherine’s broad business experience includes coordination of a number of international initiatives for the SME unit of the OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) at headquarters in Paris, marketing and brand management within all seven divisions of the George Weston Foods Group, and working within the TCG Group of Companies in the area of start-up incubator establishment.,



  1. olgabodrova

    March 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

    No, I don’t think it does

    The value of money can only be learned from real life experience of earning, saving and spending it properly. I don't think any amount of parental talking about money value can really get through, until our children start living on their own and by their own means. Equally, they'll be able to fully understand and appreciate the act of giving and sharing only when they give away what they've earned themselves. Until then, I guess we can give them pocket money as soon as they are capable of explaining themselves in a shop, but should not expect too much understanding or appreciation.

    It's becoming very popular to pay kids some pocket money for doing domestic chores, in order to teach them the value of money, but personally I would be very much against introducing this sort of commercial transactions into my own family life. To me, it somehow undermines what the family is all about.

  2. JEQP

    March 6, 2009 at 3:47 am

    There’s pocket money and there’s pocket money…

    We got pocket money as children, and my friends used to say I was lucky because of the amount of money we got — about $20 a week, if I recall correctly. Then we'd go to the movies, and their conversation with their parents would go something like this:

    "Dad, I'm going to the movies!" — $10

    "I need to get there!" — $5

    "We have to buy lunch as well!" at least another $5


    I think you can see where I'm going with this… we had to pay for everything out of our pocket money, except for school excursions and medical expenses. I don't know what effect this had on our financial nouse (I'm better at finances than most people I know, but one isn't a good sample size), but it did have some other effects:

    — We weren't sucked in by branding. No pleading for $200 Nikes, we were buying them ourselves so we got the cheapest sneakers that fit and were comfortable. Same goes for other clothes.

    — I'm one of the few kids in history who liked getting socks and underwear for Christmas, because otherwise I'd have to buy them myself.

    — My parents had a fixed weekly "kids budget", and there was no whining or begging for money or things.

    We were in primary school when this started, I'm not sure exactly what age. But I would say let them choose what to spend it on, as long as you can withstand the pleas to buy them things when they run out of money. They'll learn. 

  3. alison gordon

    March 8, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    perhaps it should be the amount, not the age

    I got pocket money from a fairly young age, but it was a very small amount. The idea my parents wanted to teach me was that I was responsible for this money and, over time, would appreciate its value more and more. I was not entitled to more if I spent it too quickly or recklessly.

    Though household chores might not be the best way, I think it is pointless just giving kids money for nothing. I didn't really appreciate money until I got myself a part-time job in high school. There was nothing like staring at my first pay slip and being proud of the fact that I'd earnt the money now sitting in my bank account. So while kids may not always understand what it means to have money in their wallets, perhaps if we start small early, they will appreciate the privilege more as they grow up.

  4. catherine

    March 10, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Thanks for your comments.

    Thanks for your comments. They highlight the differing views on this topic and I appreciate all the feedback.

  5. Twister

    March 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    How old is old enough????

    How old is old enough to get pocket money????I suppose when you teach your child the value of money and you feel he/she has some idea about why and when we earn money and the benfits of saving that money and knowing when and how to spend it.  To be honest most of us as adults still don't get it, the aspects of money that is. My parents gave me pocket money at around 12 or so, it was monthly pocket money, I had to pay for my bus ticket for that month and other expenses like occasional canteen presents and whatever else. Unfortunately before the month ended i was asking my dad (not my mum, dad was easier) for more money. I suppose they did the right thing, I am sure they did it to teach me how to manage money, they did their best but maybe there were other issues about money they should have taught me, or maybe I still would have been the same.

     educate your child first, 10 isn't too young, make him earn his pocket money and then set a goal, like say lay-by an item he likes, he does his chores gets his money and saves some of it and pays his lay-by with the rest. Let the canteen money come from you, in my opinion children in primary school need to have permission to take money to canteen.

  6. Hansnext

    June 27, 2009 at 6:22 am

    How old for pocket money

    With our first three children my wife and I were very systematic – pocket money started with the first year of Primary school but was graded according to age – 5cents per year I think.  But there were three components to it – one part could be used during the week at school, one part had to be put aside for the weekend, and a third part had to be banked using the school banking program.  We thought this was teaching very responsible use of money and it sort of worked while my wife was at home to administer it.  But the complexity got to us once she re-entered the workforce, even though we had more disposable income to share.  Interestingly, later when the system had completely fallen down, we witnessed an exchange between our younger sons and our daughter when she asked to get pocket money in late Primary School – with very concerned expressions on their faces they rushed across the room saying " No – Sally – don't go there – leave it – we will explain to you why you're better not to get regular pocket money!" and they rushed her out of the room.  I think the economic rationalist in them had recognised that asking for money on a case by case basis without time or amount constraints was better than having a fixed income and the obligation to manage it all themselves.  Now they are all adults it doesn't seem to have changed much…

    Hans N