I’m all in favour of giving children pocket money. It’s their first taste of financial independence and it teaches them many lessons for life, including how to budget, how to save, how to set a goal and how to manage their money.
I also believe in increasing the amount by a dollar or two each birthday, acknowledging that the older a child is, the more ‘refined’ their tastes.
But what happens when your child is a teen and old enough to work?
In my experience, most teens welcome the chance to supplement their pocket money with money they’ve earned themselves. It’s up to us as parents to support them as they take this crucial step towards financial independence. Part of that support perhaps means carrying on with pocket money for a while, so that the income from their first Saturday job is ‘as well as’ and not ‘instead of’ the money you give them. After a month or so, if the Saturday job is going well and they are enjoying having cash to spend and even managing to put money aside for bigger ticket items, you’ll probably find that your teen no longer wants or expects the hand out.
Earning your own money is a part of growing up
Finding a job empowers teens and gives them a sense of self-worth. For the first time in their lives, they aren’t reliant upon the generosity (or good mood) of their parents in order to buy the things they want. Along with that comes the realisation that if they save up, they can afford to buy things for themselves that their parents wouldn’t have paid for outside of Christmas or birthdays. It’s a valuable life lesson; when you earn your own money, everything’s possible!
Joining a grown up world
For many teens, a weekend job is the first time they’re treated as an adult among adults, and are paid for the adult qualities they possess (reliability, sociability, efficiency). There’s no faster way to grow up than being thrown into an environment where people assume that you already have! As parents, you’ll almost certainly notice a difference at home. It’s exciting and rewarding to meet the adult your teen is becoming.