Monday, October 13, 2008

Pocket Money

Despite some unhappiness yesterday over the lack of clarinet practice, he went to bed happy because he had collected £5.30 in total of pocket money.

The first miserly 30 pence was from me for cleaning the area around the dining table six days out of seven in the past week. He's let off on Friday as there is always a rush to get to Cubs. I didn't tell him to do this. He sort of decided that, yes, he could, and would, clean the floor with a brush and pan after dinner.

Then he broached the issue of pocket money.

For a boy who gets fed at school (our fees cover that) there is no need to have money to buy stuff, not like in my own childhood where we had to make our way to the 'tuckshop' to queue up for food, pay for it, eat it quickly and then get to play during our short breaks.

He tends also to get the toys, games, books, etc he would like to have sooner or later.

But I checked with my RGS girls -- decided to call them his 'RGS Aunties' -- for advice: give or don't give? The consensus was 'give'. Some pocket money, seeing it grow, learning how to use/spend/save/give it (to charity) teaches him how to budget.

There are lots of TV programmes which show how young British people have no idea what a 'budget' means. This credit card generation spends more than they earn and the debts pile up. 'Experts' come in to show them why they are spending like that (to express a sadness, eg) and how to stop this spending (usually beginning with cutting up every credit card) and setting a limit to what they could spend, or directing them to a useful second job.

I don't want my son to be like that. Poor though I was I thank God that Mum and Dad gave me pocket money and I had to learn to spend within my means from a very young age.

It used to be that getting a credit card was demonstration that we are earning enough, or that we had rich parents. I like spending on my credit card because the monthly statement tells me how much I had spent. I also pay off the whole sum when it's due.

Things have changed and banks and department stores have been throwing credit at shoppers, young and old. Perhaps one positive outcome of the credit crunch is that people begin to live within their means.

Son and his Dad washed my car yesterday. The car was filthy. It was the first time it had been washed since I had it, probably in March. He was happy washing it, it seemed. He does not get to wear his wellies very often. Said he should wear his other waterproofs the next time.

Dad gave him £5 for that, ignoring my suggestion that they should split the £5.

Not sure now how long this car washing -- or even floor brushing -- would go on for. But I think it is a good start.

Long may it last.

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