8 Reasons NOT to Give Pocket Money (And How 'Osper' Changed My Mind)
She asked for pocket money for the 287th time. And for the 287th time, I said, NO!
Why did I refuse? Here are 8 reasons I always held back from giving pocket money:
She’d get used to the idea of getting ‘something for nothing’. (Paying her to make her bed, tidy her room, or do her homework strikes me as a terrible idea since these are things she should be doing anyway.)
She’d become enfeebled. Like a ‘welfare dependent’. Or a 1950s housewife relying on monthly handouts. Or a ‘coasting’ employee who does ‘just enough’ to keep the pay checks rolling-in. Take it away, and she’d be lost!
She’d have a positive reason NOT to go out and find ways to create value for others in exchange for money.
Having not done anything to ‘earn’ the money, she’d have no sense of the value of it.
She’d lose it. Cash is very easy to mislay. Especially for a tween whose bedroom looks like permanent bomb site.
She couldn’t use it to buy the stuff she likes, and isn’t entirely bad for her. Like books, music and apps online.
It would be all too easy for her to spend it on stuff that’s positively bad for her. Like sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks down the local shop.
Neither she, nor I, would have any record of what she’d spent ‘her’ money on. Of course, she wouldn’t care, but I, as her parent, would have no sight of what she was spending ‘her’ money on.
Several months ago I came across, and subsequently (despite my reservations) signed-up for a prepaid card service called Osper:
A Prepaid Debit Card for young people with a mobile banking app for the family.
As a parent (or grandparent, guardian, whatever…) I can pay into it on a recurring and/or one-off basis.
Because it’s backed by Mastercard she can use it: online, for Debit card payments, for Contactless payments, and to withdraw good old-fashioned cash.
I also get to see a near-realtime feed of all her (non-cash) transactions with an easy-to-use app. And… text alerts for example when a transaction bounces for lack of funds.
Does it work?
After several months of using Osper, I thought it would help other parents to summarise the benefits we’ve found as a family.
8 reasons to give pocket money
Learn to appreciate the value of money. Having some money but less than you’d like is good preparation for real-life. Giving just enough therefore to pay for the little things that make her life better works for me.
Learn to budget. This works best if the money is received on a consistent basis. We pay in once a month.
Learn to be confident in dealing with shop-keepers, and doing online transactions. (Maybe I’ll live to regret this one!)
4) DISCRIMINATION (the good kind)
Learn to make value trade-offs between multiple things.
Learn about waiting for and saving-up for something she can’t afford right now.
Independence that comes from being able to make and act on decisions.
Doing something ‘beyond the call of duty’. In most cases, I’d rather treat her to an experience like going to the cinema or inviting a friend to stay over. Still, having the option to make one-off ‘bonus’ payments makes sense. Either way, recognising and rewarding extra-good behaviour can only be a good thing.
Making it easy (and not awkward) for a wider circle of family and friends to contribute is good for them and can have a force-multiplier effect for my daughter.
Osper opened my eyes to the benefits of giving pocket money to children. While it doesn’t in itself solve all the problems I have with ‘pocket money’, it is a big step in the right direction, and we’re both very happy with it.
As a bonus, I don’t have to say NO as much.