Using pocket money, children with small sums of money learn to spend money responsibly. The amount is not decisive. What matters instead.
Should I give my child pocket money? And if so, how much? These are questions that all parents probably ask themselves at some point. Maybe in those moments when the kids are whining for an ice cream. In such cases, the reference to own money quickly relieves the parents. But what is pocket money good for?
A representative Forsa survey shows that in 2022, well over half of all parents will pay their children pocket money on an ongoing basis. Parents make the amount of pocket money largely dependent on the age of the children (63 percent).
How much pocket money do you want?
Youth offices and the Family Ministry support an age-related amount that increases with age. According to the survey, the average amount for primary school students is currently 3.80 euros per week.
The German Youth Institute (DJI) recommends a slightly lower amount. For first graders it should be around 1 to 1.50 euros, for the oldest elementary school students no more than three euros per week.
But the amount of pocket money is not decisive. It is much more important that children receive a small sum at regular intervals, without being asked, which they can freely dispose of. In this way, children can learn early on how to handle money. Because for bigger wishes, you may have to save first.
What children spend their pocket money on
According to experts, the parents who opt out of pocket money often reason that the small amounts cannot be used to buy anything of value. Instead of the positive experience of being able to fulfill a wish, the child experiences frustration. For example, even a children’s magazine usually costs more than four euros and is therefore above the typical weekly amount or recommendation.
However, Christian Heck from the child support and youth protection department in Stuttgart’s youth office sees that even the smallest amounts make sense: “Sometimes it is difficult for us as adults to bear what children spend money on. But these are the important experiences we must allow.” According to Heck, children do these experiences better at a young age with small amounts of money than later with larger amounts.
According to the German Youth Institute, children are particularly happy to spend the amount on toys, magazines or sweets and young people on fast food, going out and their mobile phones. The biggest gender difference is that girls prefer clothes and boys prefer anything related to computers.
A good idea? Link payment to conditions
After all, a quarter of all parents link the payment of pocket money to conditions such as good grades or certain behaviour. Experts disagree on this: Money can certainly be an incentive to make an effort.
Also in the adult world, there are later salary supplements for special achievements. A parallel or a learning effect could certainly be seen here. But what if the child tries hard and still doesn’t get a good grade? Then it is doubly punished.
From a professional point of view, Christian Heck therefore does not consider the conditions reasonable: “Don’t connect the security of ordinary pocket money with performance. Think back to your own childhood: were you free to dispose of your pocket money? What would you have wanted?” The parents’ task is to advise during the learning process and to impose as few conditions and restrictions as possible on the child.
Small steps are also important
The small steps are especially important in learning how to handle money responsibly. Financially competent people know that managing money and the associated financial independence is important to a self-determined life. The earlier the offspring learns this, the better.