Make your kids money wise

“Mum, mum!” shouts Sethunya in the middle of the store. “Please can I have one?” Sethunya’s eyes are full of expectation and hope, looking up at her mother.

It does not matter what item your child wants today or tomorrow, some are cheap, some are expensive. Without careful planning, buying these “gifts” out of guilt or embarrassment (or because your child really deserves it) will put a large dent in your budget and a hole in your pocket.

Teach your children to budget

Instead of dishing out the cash for every need, rather teach your children to budget out of their pocket money for these items they want so desperately.

Experts tell us that the earlier we teach our kids about money and responsibility the better, and it will take the pressure of your pocket too.

Pocket Money

How much pocket money is the right amount and when should you start giving it?

Experts tell us that each parent should evaluate the factors in their lives and make a decision based on their income and the child’s needs.

Does a child who actively gets involved and does household chores deserve more than a child who is asked to do nothing? Should a child who saves their money, or a portion of it, get more than those kids who have no sense of savings or responsibility?

Very young children are sometimes given a form of pocket money, although the average age to start giving your children pocket money is at five or six years old. At the age of three a child does not know the difference between P1 and P10, but they do know that money can buy things.

Allowing your children to make the decision to save or spend this early in age helps them become independent and learn to make good choices as they grow older.

The Value of Money

It is more important to get kids to understand the value of money: for every coin they must make the decision – either to spend, or save it for later in their piggy banks.

As a parent, do not worry if you struggle with the pocket money debate - there is no right or wrong.

Clarah has two young boys and they get rewarded for doing work around the house. For each chore they complete; they get given a red token. At the end of each month, she counts up each boy’s tokens. She gives them 50 thebe for each token they earned during the month.

Clarah feels she is teaching her boys the importance of hard work, and that money is earned. They do not expect money for nothing.

Of course when her kids do not do something she expects of them, she deducts some pocket money, teaching them that their earnings are equal to their efforts.

However, do not fall into the trap of paying your children for chores that they should be doing anyway, this will send them the wrong message.  Pocket money earned is for additional chores – it is not for good behaviour, remembering to brush teeth and make their beds.

Older Children

As children get older, they should be influenced to use their own pocket money to pay for things they want, such as small toys and sweets. Make sure they have an amount of their pocket money with them if they want to spend it that day. This simulates a daily budget.

The child can spend this money on whatever they want, without annoying and begging mum for the item. It gives your child some responsibility too. 

Financial Education

By giving your children pocket money it is more than just keeping them happy, it is also an opportunity to educate your children so they can make informed decisions.

Explain the difference between what they ‘want’ versus what they ‘need’.  Tell them what you will buy for them versus what they are responsible for buying with their own pocket money.

Also explain to them that you have a limited amount of money – which you have to plan a budget to make sure you have enough money to buy everything every month.

Kids sometimes think that money is magic. A friend of mine told me how her four-year-year old was flummoxed when she said she could not afford to buy her the toy she had seen in the shop. My friend patiently explained to her daughter that she had no money left until payday. Her child replied: “But mummy, just go to that machine in the wall and get some!”

5 Top Pocket Money Tips

* Give pocket money on the same day each week. This will teach your kids to budget and plan better.

 * Let children make spending mistakes and do not critise when they do – we learn from our mistakes.

* Teach children to draw a simple budget in a notebook, and help them with it each week or month. They will soon understand what happens to their money

* Give your kids three jars labelled: Spend, Save, Donate. ‘Spend’ is for money to spend this month; ‘Save’ is for holidays or big items and ‘Donate’ is to help teach them to give to others less fortunate than them.

* Never take away pocket money in anger, unless your child has committed a serious offense such as stealing, smoking or buying alcohol.

Later, teach them about long-term savings by opening a bank account for them. Family can also make donations into it at birthdays. This will teach them how to deal with financial institutions and not to be afraid of them. It will also instil a good saving sense that will last them to their retirement.

Author: Somo Modikwa – Business Development Manager with S.C.I. Training (Pty) Ltd © S.C.I. Training run BOTA accredited financial wellness programmes in Botswana. For help and information contact them on 3180243 or 72309718.

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