When my brother and I were kids, my dad and his brothers owned and operated a sign manufacturing business. Every year, we had the best bespoke vinyl name labels on our school books and when it came time for us kids to start earning pocket money, you can only guess the level of craftsmanship in our family chore board. When other kids had simple paper charts stuck to their family fridge, ours was something like you’d see at any Westfield Shopping Centre, directing shoppers to various retail havens. Our chore chart/sign hung shiny and proud in our family kitchen in all its tabulated glory. It was impressive. However, Dad tells a story about how it took more time for him to manufacture the chart than it took for us kids to lose interest in doing chores to earn pocket money. Sorry Dad.

Chores and pocket money are quite hotly debated topics among most families. When should kids start to receive pocket money? How should they earn it? What’s fair at the different ages?

My kids are hot and cold with their chores and earning pocket money. They love receiving cash and they love spending it but I don’t believe in having to nag them to do their chores. If all the chores aren’t done by Sunday pay day, well there’s simply no pay day. They soon learn to tick the boxes.

For some families, like mine, there are non-negotiable chores that don’t earn pocket money – I just expect that they be done. For example, keeping bedrooms clean. I’m honestly not paying for that. The same goes for setting the table and helping to tidy up after dinner. I expect everyone to pitch in and help. But if you want to vacuum my car or tidy/clean my office, I’ll happily pay for those chores to be done.

Other parents, however, are happy to simply provide their kids with pocket money each week, without the attachment of chores. As is the case with every parenting decision in life, it’s about satisfying your personal beliefs and making the best decisions for you and your individual situation.

haven quizzed Brisbane psychologist and dad of two, Aaron Frost, from Benchmark Psychology, on kids and pocket money. Aaron believes that what we parents should be paying our kids really depends on what we expect them to do with the money – but, more so, there should be subtle lessons along the way about saving money.

“For instance, a seven year old will mostly likely buy themselves a toy or magazine. The lesson you want to teach is about the value of saving their money for something good. So I would look to give them enough money that getting something they really want is achievable,” Aaron says. “A 10 year old though should have already learnt this lesson and should now be learning basic budgeting.

“I lean more towards giving children more pocket money, but expecting them to do more with it themselves. When they want a new app, or a better saddle for their bike, that is what pocket money is for. If they learn that lesson now, you’ll be grateful when they are teenagers and insisting on the expensive branded clothing. You can explain that a Target t-shirt costs $10, and a Nike t-shirt costs $90, so if they want the more expensive item, it’s up to them to cover the difference.”

Wanting to get your kids motivated to earn and save money through basic chores at home? Here are some ideas:

  • The chore list: This is the best place to start and should be a joint initiative. Sit down with your kid/s and decide together what jobs should go on the list. Then store that list in a common place. The kitchen fridge is a great place. I’ve also seen it work well on the back of the toilet door.
  • The pay cheque: When deciding on an amount for pocket money, we like the ‘one dollar per year of their age per week’ approach. So, your seven-year-old daughter might earn $7/week via a relevant set of tasks.
  • The bigger picture: Encourage your child to save a portion of their pocket money to get them into the habit of saving from an early age. Set a savings goal that’s relevant and relative to their age. But don’t be too rigid with them. Just like us adults, there’s got to be some reward for all the hard work. Otherwise, why would we do it?!

Have you got any other chore/pocket money tips to share that work in your household? Email belinda@havenmagazine.com.au – I’m all ears!

Belinda Glindemann

Belinda Glindemann  

Belinda knew she was destined for a career in communications and publishing from the age of 11 when her Year 6 teacher introduced her to poster projects and glitter pens. She completed her journalism cadetship in the Whitsundays and went on to hold various newspaper and magazine editor roles across Brisbane in a media career spanning more than a decade. When Belinda's not writing for haven, she runs her own PR agency, kid-wrangles two young daughters and drinks way too much sweet tea.