Only 3 more weeks left of Term 1. I seem to have just recovered from the last holidays. As much as I enjoy the break from routine, the holidays start to become harder and harder keeping them occupied and busy without spending an extraordinary amount of money. Two of the boys have birthdays these holidays so it is an even more expensive exercise. I used to be able to get away with combining the two parties, but now it is a definite “no no”, especially as my soon to be 12 year old wishes to invite girls. Secretly I am quite looking forward to that.

Amongst the usual challenges we as parents/caregivers face I am finding it really difficult to get the kids to appreciate the cost of things and the difference between wants and needs. Any suggestions gratefully accepted .

John and I have always struggled with pocket money and probably the fact that we can’t agree makes it even more difficult to find a solution that benefits both parties. Our latest attempt has had mixed results. After family discussions, we all decided that each child would receive a certain amount each week dependent on them doing a few simple chores (that they really should do anyway). When big daddy got involved the list went from a few to 10.

Things like making their bed, doing their homework, bringing their lunch boxes up, emptying the dishwasher – as I said simple chores. The idea was that they would get pocket money to pay for their mobile phones if they had one, perhaps a movie, or a trip to the dairy. Initially they were quite excited they might be able to even save for one of their wants.

The first week was magnificent, albeit requiring lots of reminders that gradually became nagging and a warning that I would not pay up if I had to continue ranting like a mad woman. “Pay Day” on Sunday started with a summary of how the week went. For each chore not completed (and let me assure you it is not easy keeping track of four boys times 10 chores) there was a deduction of money. Sometimes it was so bad they ended up in debt!!!! It has slowly deteriorated to the stage where there hasn’t been a pay out for 3 weeks despite strong protestation that it is unfair, and “dad is a dork”, and “who cares?”.

They will start caring soon when the supply of cash runs out and the holidays are approaching – the phones need topping up and there is no more money. Like my previous article I am determined to follow through; seeing nothing unjust in not paying up for jobs they should probably do anyway.

Sadly our children don’t appreciate the value of money (although I imagine there are some who do). They are not aware of the rising cost of living – we spend $50 a week on milk alone and whilst we are on a good income we have to manage our finances carefully knowing that the next ten years with four children are going to be very expensive.

This is probably our fifth or sixth attempt at trying to establish some routine around pocket money. I have tried to get the boys onto I even thought the teenagers might be more savvy having done economics at school; but no, they still consider that mum and dad will keep putting their hands in their pockets.

I sense that this will be an ongoing battle, but will persevere knowing at least that, if successful, we might be a little poorer but the jobs will get done. Little do they know that once they master these simple chores I am going to move on to the washing and even worse, cleaning the toilet!

Might be out of luck there, I have to confess that I doubt John has ever cleaned the toilet either !!!!!

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Dame Susan Devoy is New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner, and a World Open champion squash player. She's the former CEO of Sport Bay of Plenty and super-mum to four boys.

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Karen Macdonald

We have never had pocket money in our house because doing the simple chores (as you have listed) to me are just part of contributing to the household.  However, over the last school holidays I got fed up with handing over $10 and $20 notes and not seeing any change!  So from the beginning of term 1 my two girls (aged 12.5 and 15 yrs) are on a weekly allowance of $25 each.  I buy their basic wardrobe (ie:  the needs) and they now have to pay for the wants (especially now we are interested in brands!).  They also use their own… Read more »

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Karen, 

Thanks for that- what a wonderful success story! I had a similar allowance when I was growing up and it worked really well. Hope it continues to go well! 



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