By Ritika Jain
The other day, I got talking to a friend about the merits of financial awareness at an early age and was surprised to know she hadn’t given pocket money to her daughter till she was almost ready to go to college. I broached the topic again with another friend to know how much my daughter’s peers are getting these days. She also said that her son (who’s now going to grade 11) has never asked for money but would rather have things now and then, like a smartwatch or upgrade his phone every three years or so. She said she’ll start with a system if he goes to a hostel.
In contrast, Sudeshna Dasgupta, who’s daughter is in class 4, says, “She would get money in envelopes marked with her name for birthdays or for Durga Puja when we used to go to Kolkata. Recently, she became aware and objected to my dipping into her money to pay change to a pizza guy. So, we got her a password enabled money box and started giving her around Rs 100 per week to spend on stationery, etc. What else will a kid spend on? She gets incentive to behave better and I also give her a bit extra for doing good school work, etc. Saving up for something definitely teaches them delayed gratification.”
Ginni Xanders supports the concept and adds, “In today’s context, learning financial management is key to survival. The sooner the kid learns, the better it is. Setting the tone at an early age, to manage a resource that is finite, is important. It brings financial discipline and makes a kid wise to how and what to spend on. I started to give 5k from grade 10 onwards and it covers personal expenses and partying with friends.”
Sarita Grover also agrees and says, “I give pocket money to my daughter. I initiated it when she turned 15, starting with Rs 500 per month. I’m certainly in favour because I believe that it helps millennials in many ways, such as understanding value for money, a sense of purpose and achievement by learning to plan finances and manage money, realisation of their parents’ hard work, and judicial use of resources. Every year, on her birthday, I also transfer an amount equal to her age but depositing money in a bank account is altogether different than giving it in their hands and letting them judge how they want to spend. Although I give her the freedom, she still informs me. I’ve seen a tremendous positive effect on her ever since. I’m able to see her making choices. She feels grown up and enjoys the responsibility too.”
Bhavani Dhar is undecided. She says, “My children are 11 and 8. So far, they have never demanded pocket money and I think they are too young to handle money on their own. I’m not sure when we’ll start.”
Mohit Tomar has two children. They’re 10 and 6. He says, “My son has a serious disposition. He listens to Mukesh songs and is really principled. If we go to buy a toy truck and I offer to buy him something else, he checks me instead and reminds me that I was supposed to get him just one thing. Kids themselves don’t demand but I think around 15-16 is a reasonable age to start educating them money-wise. It’s required these days.”
Radhika Jain doesn’t like the idea at all. She says, “My son is 11 years old. I have never given him pocket money. I don’t believe in the concept at all. He asks me for whatever he wants and together, we weigh the pros and cons, utility vs price and reach a conclusion. It’s either me who convinces him or he convinces me. Because we’ve practiced this for years, he has become value conscious. I feel rather than giving pocket money and leaving it to them to spend as they wish, it’s better to teach them the art of choosing what’s right for them. It works in the longer run.”
My own take is that no matter at what age and what amount you decide to give your child, it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach them about privilege, to differentiate between needs and wants, to earn their bit by doing small chores around the house so that they feel worthy and not entitled. Asserting independence is part of growing up and people learn by making mistakes. So, let small things slide, like losing change, blowing up everything all at once, wasting money on something frivolous because it’s trending. It’ll teach them that getting one thing means leaving another. After all, they’re in control and choosing for themselves. Plus, your trust in them will translate into confidence. What’s more, it saves you the trouble to keep saying no.