Mar 15, 2014

The value of money

My kids have a really skewed understanding about money which I admit I don't do a whole lot to fix because (a) it's cute and innocent and (b) our finances can't handle them knowing the truth.

They think we have lots of money. Like "a hundred dollars" in the bank. That's not because we're constantly buying things or showering them with gifts, but because we are grown up and we work and we give them pocket money, and we go to the supermarket and pay for things, so we must have lots of money.

(I do tell them we don't have lots of money; but I don't want them to worry that we're poor either).

We give them $2 a week pocket money which they mostly save. Whenever they want something I say "Well, if you REALLY want it you could buy it with your pocket money", and then they get me to help them do sums, to find out how much money they'd have left if they bought this thing, and then usually, once they understand the true value/cost of what they want, they decide not to buy it.  And that makes me proud, except sometimes when I have to stop myself from saying "Dude, you should totally go for it, it's only three dollars, man!"

But their notions of what money is worth are still skewed.

In their world, there is a sliding scale of value to money which goes like this:

  • notes are always worth more than coins. A five-dollar note is more valuable than five one-dollar coins
  • a ten dollar note is more valuable than two five-dollar notes
  • a gold one-dollar coin is worth WAY more than five twenty-cent pieces
  • a shiny gold coin is worth more than a dull gold coin
  • a two-dollar gold coin and a one-dollar gold coin are of roughly equal value (unless one of them is shiny)
  • a commemorative coin is worth more than a normal coin
  • the greatest value of all is a shiny, commemorative two-dollar coin. Really tempting even compared to a five-dollar note.
  • silver coins (fives, tens, twenties and fifties) are worth very little; even when you group them together to make up $2, they are worth so much less than an actual $2 coin. An actual SHINY $2 coin? Forget about it!


Do / did you give your kids pocket money?


  1. I think those confusions are fairly common. And much, much more desirable that the way I apparently behaved when first exposed to money. My father held out a handful of money to me - a note, some silver coins, some copper coins - to see what would attract me. I scooped the lot, and resisted giving them back.
    More embarrassingly, my mother took me (aged twoish) to the local corner shop. She sat me on the counter while she talked to the proprietor. When she got me home she discovered that I had STUFFED the pockets of my coat with the notes from the till. Ooops.

  2. I can't talk about my kids as I don't have any but I was never given pocket money. I did have set jobs to do and without reward, they were shared among myself and my closest age brother. Burning the rubbish, fetching a can of milk from the dairy, feeding the chooks, fetching briquettes and cleaning our shoes. I don't know why we did not have to make our beds or hang out the washing. We never had to do anything inside the house. The supply of money to buy me things was dependant on me convincing my parents how essential my need was. Maybe I desperately needed a certain matchbox car, or a tube of glue for a project. Later, mid teens, I would ask my father for 41 cents every day for a packet of Park Drive. After a couple of years of this, once he said no. I was shocked at his unreasonableness. I then demanded, at the age of about 15, pocket money and he gave me five dollars a week. But my step mother was giving her similarly aged children $10 a week. T

    here is more, but it is becoming too long for a comment, so once again, you have inspired a post for my own blog.

    1. Excellent! Very interesting topic when you think about it, as everyone has grown up with different philosophies on it, and then done things differently again with their own kids. My parents gave us pocket money and we didn't have to do chores though we did have to make our beds and set the table for dinner each night, these were just things we had to do and not connected to pocket money. I had friends whose families had different systems. Of course we all knew that kid who got megabucks each week, didn't we? In fact as I was writing this post I thought about writing a follow-up about pocket money in general.
      I'll look forward to reading your post.

  3. We give our grandson an allowance of $3.00 a week and he has a little stacking money little dish for Christmas, one for saving and one for spending ($1 in each per week). Sometimes just for fun when I see him I will give him some quarters or a loonie just to see what he does with it. He usually always puts it in spending but then again, he hasn't spent anything. You can't start soon enough teaching kids how to handle money.

  4. I give my 15th year ol daughter a pocket money every week about 4 dollars for sweets and newspapers. But personally when I was a child I didn't get any money from my parents.

    1. Small amounts seem to work well, don't they?



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