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So just how much pocket money should we be giving our children?

As former Euromillions winner Gillian Bayford reveals she only gives her son and daughter £3 a week each, Kerry McKittrick asks five well-known local people what the going rate is in their homes

Published 03/06/2015

Life’s lessons: presenter Denise Watson with her daughters Samantha and Beth
Life’s lessons: presenter Denise Watson with her daughters Samantha and Beth
Just rewards: Judith Cochrane with her children Emma-Rose and Jessica
Balancing act: pocket money is age-appropriate in the Overend family
Fearghal McKinney

Remember the days when 50p pocket money could stretch to a comic and chocolate bar, at a push? Or if you were thrifty, you could save up the pennies until you had a whopping £3.50 to buy the latest hit record?

For some children, pocket money comes easy, a regular hand-out from parents at the end of each week, while for others, it’s earned by helping out with household chores.

In recent years, the amount of pocket money parents give to children has increased twice as fast as earnings since the Eighties.

A study last year showed that a child aged between eight and 15 received £6.35 a week on average, a rise of 462% compared with the £1.13 paid two-and-a-half decades ago.

Euromillions winner Gillian Bayford hit the headlines this month when she revealed that, despite a massive £148m jackpot she shared with her former husband, she only gives their two children £3 a week — and that’s in exchange for chores.

Mrs Bayford, who has split from her husband since their windfall, says she wants her children to remain grounded and to appreciate the value of money.

So how much pocket money is enough to hand out to children? We speak to five well-known parents who tell us what amounts they dish out to their children.

Denise Watson (42) is a TV presenter and sports journalist. She lives in Lisburn with her husband David Scott and their daughters Samantha (10) and Beth (six). She says:

The girls get £2 each week from their granda - it's magazine money really as they go off to the newsagents afterwards. We also give them tuck shop money for when they train at the racket club once a week, and £1 on a Saturday for some sweets.

We haven't introduced standard pocket money just yet - Beth is still too little for it.

Any money they do get, though goes into their money boxes - the same with anything their aunts and uncles might give them as a treat.

That way they can save up for anything they like - the Build-A-Bear toys are particular favourites at the moment and my oldest, Sam, is getting into clothes and accessories a bit now.

The girls do get rewarded for things like good report cards and sporting achievements.

I am conscious of the amount of money they have access to - if they get £80 from relatives for their birthday, then most of it will go into the money box and they can buy one toy as a treat, rather than spend the whole amount.

I think it's a parent's responsibility to control their access to money - giving a six-year-old £20 and telling them they can spend it on whatever they want would be mad.

The girls are very good and help around the house. They help out in the garden and the kitchen and it's not a chore to them, they just like being involved.

When they're good like that and keep their bedrooms tidy, then we go out for treats like the cinema or an ice-cream."

Samantha Watson says:

I think it's okay the way we get money from mum and dad, and I think it teaches us about money so we don't spend too much.

Some of my friends are given £5 a week but I don't really mind because I usually get what I need. Sometimes I can ask my mum to get me some things, too. I think mum and dad give money out fairly."

Judith Cochrane (38) is an Alliance Party MLA for East Belfast, where she lives with her husband Jonathan and their children Emma-Rose (10) and Jessica (seven). She says:

In our house the pocket money actually comes from the grandparents — my dad gives them money each Tuesday when they go to visit. It’s about £2 each a week, but they can come home sometimes with a £20 note and that has to last them for a few weeks at a time.

Our girls are at the age now that they can go for a walk down to the shop and buy an ice lolly, so it will be spent on a Saturday morning or after school on treats. They also get a little money for chores around the house — but not for everything they do. Certain things are standard like clearing their plate away after dinner.

That’s something everyone does as part of the team in the house. But if they do extra things, like help out in the garden or hang out washing, they can be rewarded for that.

They are expected to spend their own money — Jessica wanted to buy a friendship necklace from Claire’s Accessories and give the other half to her friend, and she had to save up her pocket money for that. When we go on holiday, the girls are given money at the start and that’s their lot — they need to budget and work out how long it will last them. They know if they spend it all there won’t be any more.

My two are quite good — they appreciate that they don’t just get things handed to them. Emma has lost her school hockey top and has been told that her pocket money will be buying a new one unless she finds it — it’s all part of learning the value of money.

Claire Allen (37) is a novelist and lives in Londonderry with her husband Neill and their children Joseph (11) and Cara (six). She says:

Our two don’t get pocket money for age-appropriate tasks, but they do get rewarded for them. For Cara, it’s brushing her teeth or putting her pyjamas away and for Joseph, it’s about feeding the cat. If they do those, then we go swimming or to the cinema as a treat.

As they get older obviously that will change — Joseph is going to secondary school in September and he will want to have some money for going out with his friends. Then we’ll need to decide what the appropriate amount of money is for a child to have.

Even when they start getting regular pocket money, they will still have to do jobs around the house — the children need to learn that they have to earn what they get and they can’t just have money with no consequences.

If they don’t, then as a parent, you’re not preparing them for life at all — they’ll think the world owes them a living and they won’t have to do anything to get it.

The chore part is also important because kids need to learn to do things for themselves. Most of the times I could do their chores faster, but it’s important that those good habits, like brushing their teeth and making the bed every day, are learned at an early age.

I don’t want my kids growing up and going away to university without knowing how to put a cover on a duvet or how to open a can of beans.”

Sandra Overend (42) is the Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid-Ulster and lives in Bellaghy with her husband Nigel and their three children; Courtney (14), Joshua (12) and Nathan (nine). She says:

It’s very difficult to always have the right sort of money in your pocket to hand out to the kids at the right time, so pocket money in our house was a little ad hoc for a while. Then it withered away altogether and I would just give the children money if they were going out.

Then I decided we needed to have a proper allowance system in place and we opened a bank account for each of the children.

All of the birthday money now goes into their accounts and I have set up standing orders for each of them, so they get their pocket money regularly each week.

Nathan gets £2, Joshua gets £4 and Courtney gets £5 as the oldest — it’s all age-appropriate.

The older two have bank cards, so they can get cash from the hole-in-the-wall and then spend it on whatever they like. I think giving youngsters the responsibility of managing their own money is a good thing. I like them to think about the consequences of spending — and how, if they spend all their money, having none will effect them.

It makes them feel more responsible and I’m proud of the way they have managed their own accounts.

I don’t link paying pocket money with chores because the children are expected to do those anyway, regardless of whether they get pocket money or not.”

Fearghal McKinney (53) is the SDLP MLA for South Belfast. He is married to Maire and they have three daughters; Kate (17), Anna (15) and Martha (nine). He says:

There is no fixed pocket money in our house — the girls get money as they need it for a particular project or event.

Kate, the oldest one, now earns a bit of her own through baby-sitting, but the other two ask for what they need. It’s not tied to any condition or good behaviour.

They’re good girls anyway and do chores around the house, but the pocket money isn’t tied to that — I don’t believe it should be either an inducement or a punishment. It should be about children recognising that they need to participate in the household and family, which our three do.

I think that children shouldn’t be given whatever whim they’re asking for immediately — that they have to wait is a good thing. It makes the anticipation and appreciation more rewarding. They need to learn that extras don’t come to them easily.”

Still cashing in...

  • Last year it was revealed that Brooklyn Beckham took a job in a coffee shop to earn some pocket money — despite his parents David and Victoria being worth millions of pounds
  • It’s been said that the Scots are pretty frugal when it comes to their finances, yet new research shows that children in Scotland are reported to be the best off in terms of pocket money, with kids receiving an average of £7.27 a week
  • Overall, the UK average for pocket money has dropped in the last two years — it’s now just an average of £6.20 in England and £6.17 in Wales
  • Surprisingly, it’s estimated that at least 70% of children will save at least part of their pocket money. It’s also estimated that dads are more generous than mums by up to 17%

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