A lot of my parenting talk in the contemporary world is now done over cups of coffee in my fabulous local coffee shop, The Workshop Coffee Co. in Muff village here in Donegal.
And the most recent discussion took place just a few days ago when I was discussing the issue of pocket money with a parent of two young children.
I just got to asking if she gives her children pocket money. She didn't. I explained that I always had done so from a young age. And so I told her the story from many years ago.
“Do you give your child pocket money?” the teacher asked me on Parent’s Day.
“I do,” I said, and in my head I was planning his punishment, thinking he’d done something wrong. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
‘It shows!” she said. I was intrigued.
I must admit it was due to the advice of a very wise friend that I had recently begun to give my three boys pocket money mere months before this incident.
The boy in question was just seven-years-old and he got £2.50 pocket money each week. This was to cover his sweets, football fee, and anything else he had to purchase during those seven days. It took a while for him to learn to budget, save, and spend wisely, but in hindsight it was one of the best decisions I’d made as a mother.
The teacher then proceeded to explain that she had been teaching money that week to the class. My son was able to recognise all the coins and answer every question she posed. She told me that he could calculate change required from certain priced items immediately and that her first thought was that he must be used to handling money.
She was right! It was at that moment I realised how important it is that we teach our children how to appreciate the value of money while they are young.
Not only did it teach him how to budget and buy only what he could afford, but it taught him basic mental maths skills. He learned how to add and subtract in his head, and it has stuck with him ever since.
Whilst a college student a few years ago, that same boy budgeted wisely on a weekly basis. He had rent and bills to pay and of course, he had a social life to fund! On a very small budget, he survived week to week. He ate well, his bills got paid and he even managed a wee night out during the college week!
It might sound ridiculous giving a seven-year-old a weekly budget, but it paid off in the long run. Budgeting for your sweets at seven years of age not only limits your intake of sweets, but it teaches you to count and do basic maths for the rest of your life.
And now at 23 years of age, the same boy has a degree in Sport/Business and just recently he embarked on a 3-year training position employed as a 'Trainee Accountant'. Could it have been the pocket money? Who knows. But it certainly helped him through the years, and now he's about to carve a career around money.
Pocket Money rocks!