Reviews & Profiles
Teaching children to save part of their pocket money
Posted Thursday, September 26 2013 at 01:00
A father of four children aged between 19 and eight, John Bosco Balikudembe gives his three children in boarding school a maximum of Shs30,000 as pocket money.
He explains that the oldest one who is now in Senior Five gets Shs30,000 as pocket money every term while the other two who are in Senior Three and Senior One get Shs15,000 each.
These two parents are an example of how the amount of pocket money given to children varies depending on the parent’s financial stand.
But while the main purpose for giving children this money is for them to buy whatever they might need throughout the school term, it can also be used by parents to train children how best to handle their finances when they grow up.
The values it can teach
In his book, A Penny Saved, Neale S. Godfrey says, “Teaching children about money is not teaching about greed or teaching them to become soulless, grasping little Ebenezer Scrooges.” He adds, “Money is about values, about relationships, about choices, about esteem.”
It is, therefore because of principles such as those of Neale that Judith Kiwalabye, a single mother of two started teaching her daughters about saving at an early stage. She says if a child knows how to manage money right from childhood, they will definitely grow up to be responsible and upright adult.
She explains, “When my two children were in school, I used to give them varying pocket money. This would depend on how much money I had but it would be between Shs20,000 and Shs50,000. However, right from the age of 13, they all knew that they had to pay tithe from whatever money I gave them,” Kiwalabye explains.
Preparing for emergencies
She adds that she would buy them scholastic material at the beginning of the term and in case they needed something like a new book, a mathematical set or anything that does not go beyond Shs10,000 within the term, they had to use their money. In cases where they misplaced something like a sweater or socks, they had to buy it using their pocket money. “This forced them to keep money in preparation for such circumstances. So at the end of the term they would come back with some little savings,” she says.
Kiwalabye says no matter how much she gave them, they had to account for every penny: “I remember during her Senior Five second term holiday, my oldest daughter did not have any savings yet I had given her Shs50,000. She even had no accountability of how she had spent it.
“I told her I was going to give her Shs20,000 as pocket money the following term since she had been extravagant in the previous term. She was very mad and refused to talk to me for two days but this did not stop me from fulfilling my promise. At the end of the following term, even when I had given her only Shs20,000, she came home with savings of Shs3,000,” she says.
Kiwalabye adds that such strict financial values have helped groom her daughters. “Right now the oldest is 28 and the youngest is 22. They both have decent jobs but save a big portion of their salaries because they know a time will come when they will need to use that money. They also take good care of whatever they have to ensure that it does not get lost.”
Learning by example
Beatrice Kakembo a counsellor with Inspirations Counselling and Practicing Services Centre Nsambya advises that the simplest way of teaching children about saving is by being a live example. “It is hard to teach what you do not do. That is why it is always better for you as a parent to be a role model.”
She adds, “Children will always emulate their parents. So if they see you saving, they will also try to do the same with whatever money they get even when it comes to their pocket money.”
Separating wants from needs
Kakembo adds that it is also important to monitor how your children spend their pocket money and this can be done by teaching them the difference between wants and needs.
“If you teach your child that a sweet is a want while something like a book is a need and that needs should always come before wants, they will always think twice before buying a sweet and with time they will learn to save for their needs,” she says.
The counsellor further says it is also good practice to make your children account for the pocket money you give them at the beginning of the term.
“This will force them to use their money sparingly and on essentials mainly because they know that at the end of the day, they have to account for the money they were given.”