Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Who are the winners when it comes to pocket money?

Kerry McKittrick and Roisin Delaney find out if Northern Ireland parents follow national trend of rewarding sons more for their chores

Family finance: Brenda and Jason Shankey with children Will and Lauren
Family fortunes: Sandra Overend with husband Nigel and children Joshua, Nathan and Courtney
Helping hands: Emma Heatherington and children Jade, Adam and Jordyn with her boyfriend Felim

According to a recent survey, the gender pay gap begins long before anyone gets to the office. Research carried out by PktMny.com has discovered that on average boys are paid £1.45 per chore while girls receive £1.25.

The website even broke chores down revealing that cooking and good behaviour are the highest earners for kids these days, paying around £2 each, while music practice was the least lucrative, earning around 74p. We talk to some well-known parents about how and when they dole the dosh.

'They save up for their treats'

Brenda Shankey (42) is managing director of Jason Shankey Male Grooming. She lives in Belfast with her husband Jason and their two children, Lauren (12) and Will (10). Brenda says:

Lauren and Will both get a regular allowance of pocket money that they can spend on whatever they like. We give them £5 on a Friday evening or else a Saturday morning and they're rewarded for little things they do to help out around the house. There is a slight gender gap. Lauren is geared towards doing more housework so she can buy more clothes the next time she goes shopping, whereas when Will wants to buy something at the end of the week he'll ask, 'What do I have to do to earn £10 this week?' That's his way of earning the extra money to reach his goal. I think it's equal between the two of them but they have different ways of using their money.

Lauren is approaching the teenage years and she's finding her own personal style. She likes to spend her pocket money on nice tops or accessories. Will, on the other hand, likes to save his pocket money and get something of real value to him like a video game. He seems more keen to save because the things he wants would be more expensive than the items Lauren would buy. Will would certainly be more frugal.

About four or five years ago, both Lauren and Will were attending music lessons but it was hard to get them to sit down and actually practice with their instruments during the week. The music teacher gave me the idea to reward them with £1 per day per week and that's where the idea of a weekly allowance came from.

Now that they are a few years older they're finding various things that they say they really want to get. Even though they know they can't have everything they want we would always suggest to them that they pay for it themselves with their pocket money. It's a good way to promote the importance of saving and as they grow up I think they'll see the significance of that.

With the male grooming business and Jason's salon business the children have more or less grown up surrounded by business talk so I think they've a good understanding of finance for their age. Money is a great way to encourage them to do things that they and most children despise doing, like studying for example. We encourage them to make their own beds, clear and load the dishwasher and whatever chores need to be done. At this stage they have learned that the money you're paid reflects the work you have put in. I think that's a good lesson for life.

Lauren has another bit to go before she can earn her own money but she can't wait to be of the legal age to get a part-time job. She knows she will need money in the future, so she's thinking ahead."

'Children need to be able to budget'

Sandra Overend (40) is an Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid Ulster. She lives in Bellaghy with her husband Nigel and three children, Courtney (12), Joshua (10) and Nathan (8). Sandra says:

I talk about giving the kids a regular sum of pocket money and every now and then I get into the routine of it, but then there comes a time when you have no cash on you and you just forget about it. I've been thinking of trying to start doing it again.

Lately, Nigel and I have realised that our daughter ,Courtney, needs a few pounds on a regular basis as she is growing into her teenage years and has lots of different things to go to in the evenings and at weekends. She is becoming more independent so she probably asks for a little bit more than the boys but they don't have a huge need for it right now. Courtney is really good at offering to pay for things herself. If I give her money for a pair of earrings or a bracelet she'll insist on paying me back once we're home, so she doesn't ask for much and I try to keep it equal between them all.

Joshua is the one who's good at saving whereas Courtney spends her money on things she needs now. Joshua has been earning his own pocket money throughout the summer on the farm. He loves the work and his cousins and uncle take him off for the day to help out. They actually miss having him around on the days he can't join them. He is far more strict with his money but compared to Courtney he doesn't really have a lot to spend it on.

It's nice to see he has a sense of pride in himself because he has actually earned money from working.

Nathan is the youngest and is happy with himself now that he can count his money. He had a second-hand guitar for his music lessons and for his birthday recently he wanted a new one and picked out the most expensive one he could find. I told him it was too expensive but when he was counting up his birthday money a few weeks later he said, 'I can nearly afford the one I really wanted'. So, I don't know if he will be as frugal as Joshua. One thing I am beginning to notice is that more and more birthday presents are in the form of cash.

Courtney would probably get a bit more but I think that's because she's the eldest and probably has more opportunities to spend.

Generally, all three of the children are good with money. Both of the boys would have been really into the Beano and Dandy comics so that would have been a regular purchase for them. Courtney didn't really have a weekly purchase.

I think the recession has taught us that children need to learn about money and they need to be able to budget so that they can manage on their own as adults and avoid getting into financial difficulty. Courtney, Joshua and Nathan all keep their own money and manage it themselves – I can only advise them."

'There's no question of Callum getting more'

Comedian Alan McKee lives in Belfast with his wife Kerri and their children Callum (17), Katherine (15), Anna (11) and Rosie (6). He says:

Our kids each have different ways of getting their pocket money. Callum. the eldest likes to get his as and when needed – he doesn't like to be tied down to a certain amount each month. Katherine is the same whereas Anna does want the set amount. That could work out better or worse for her but to be honest I think it probably works out in her favour in the long run.

With four women in a family of six there is no question here of boys getting more pocket money than girls – that would not be stood for as there are too many feminists in the house.

We don't have any set rota for chores with one job being worth more than another. Everyone is expected to pull their own weight in the house. As I like to say we're not so much a commune as a co-operative all working toward the greater good. There are constant reminders from the parents, though, and if people don't pull their weight then that may be reflected within the pocket money.

The older two are discovering jobs; Callum has started cutting the grass in the caravan park we stay in each summer although he's very secretive about how much he earns from that – he's a bit of an entrepreneur that one. Katherine is also starting to realise that she can earn cash from babysitting.

They're all about equality, my children. If their grandparents ever hand out cash then the four of them have decided it should be split between them equally. I think that benefits everyone in the long run. In the summer, they also have a communal ice-cream fund at the caravan – there is actually a jar with a hand-written label on it."

'They're expected to pull their weight'

Emma Heatherington (37) is a novelist and lives in Dungannon with her three children, Jordyn (17), Jade (12) and Adam (11).

I don't give my kids structured pocket money. I buy their clothes and food and then fork out for their hobbies like football and youth clubs as and when it's needed.

They're all expected to pull their weight around the house and some like doing it more than others. Jade can be very helpful but Jordyn's not keen.

Jordyn has got herself a job with the local youth club, though, and also babysits. She also gets an education maintenance allowance. She's very good with saving her money.

If she saves her EMA she has a tidy little sum halfway through the year that could go towards her formal. The younger ones seem to be following her example with their money.

For big things, though, like iPods or mobile phones, they tend to ask for those as birthday or Christmas gifts. The younger two don't have mobile phones yet but I think they're on the list.

Now that Jade is in secondary school, she can use the phone to tell me she'll be late home – it's a safety thing.

I actually think Adam might get away with a little bit more pocket money from me. It's certainly not planned that way but I think it's because he's the youngest and gets away with a bit more anyway. It's certainly not a sexist thing, it just works out that way."

How little chefs get the most

According to a recent survey by pocket money savings website PktMny, boys between the ages of eight and 18 are paid 20p more than girls of the same age for doing the same household chores. Cooking came out on top as the best paid chore.

The same survey also shows that parents are paying their children up to £1.50 to tidy their bedrooms and approximately £1.06 for loading and unloading the dishwasher with the average child earning £6 per week for helping out around the house.

A Roosterbank.com survey claims the average child in the UK received £23.45 cash at Christmas and approximately £26.39 for birthdays in the first quarter of this year.

A 2012 survey by the Halifax calculated that children's weekly pocket money will buy them up to 10 bars of chocolate.

'Gender doesn't come into it'

Parenting expert Paula Kelly of Digimums NI says:

Experts believe that all children should have pocket money that is appropriate to their age – the idea of money being given according to gender is silly.

Children from the age of three or four years old see parents pay for things and are given toy money to play with so it's important to educate them on money from a young age. We suggest a three-way divide when it comes to money. Children should be given money to spend, save and give to charity – even if the final one is only 50p. It starts good habits that will be carried on as adults.

Gender doesn't come in to it but age does. An eight-year-old will just need money for sweets or magazines but a 15-year-old might need bus-fare, lunch money, clothes and mobile phone credit so they will obviously need more. There shouldn't be any differences between boys and girls."

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