My eldest son, Sam, turns 8 next week and is starting to want a little more independence. This started me thinking about pocket money and whether or not to start giving this to him. I’m getting concerned that he really doesn’t seem to understand the value of money, and like many kids, just requests this that and the other without fully appreciating the true cost. His latest obsession is Minecraft and other such games, which inevitably has led to requests for various in-game purchases and App downloads etc. His piggy bank full of coppers really isn’t much help in these situations and he doesn’t realise that 49p here and 79p there can really add up after a few weeks.

We’ve never really given him pocket money, but I can see that there might be a real benefit to letting him take control of a small budget. So, off to Google I went, to do my research on pocket money and financial education for young children. I had a think about what my aims are…..

  • Teach my kids the value of money
  • Teach them to manage their finances
  • Let them learn that if you work hard, you can be rewarded
  • Teach them about saving for something they really want
  • Reward them for good behaviour and achievements
  • Encourage/motivate them to try new things
  • Give them a sense of independence
  • A simple system for managing pocket money
  • A system that allows them to spend online, in shops and access cash
  • A safe, secure system with access for both child and parent

I had to rule out standard bank accounts, as these are not available for younger children. I also ruled out cash as I rarely have cash on me and it’s no good for the kind of online purchases Sam wants to make. I finally stumbled upon a couple of pre-paid debit cards, Osper and GoHenry. Both come at a cost, with Osper being the cheaper alternative of the two. However, after doing my research and looking at the Pro’s and Cons, I finally opted for GoHenry.

The idea of this seems to fit the bill perfectly. It’s basically a Visa debit card especially for kids aged 8+. It is accepted anywhere where Visa is accepted (with some restrictions like pubs/restaurants/tobacconists etc) and it’s even contactless! Once you’ve registered, you receive the card and then go online to activate it. To do this, the parent must transfer some cash (via debit card or bank transfer) to the ‘Parent Account’. You can then set up a weekly pocket money allowance which will automatically get paid to the child account each week. You also have the option to set tasks (weekly or one-off) for the child to complete, with an assigned value for each task. Once they’ve completed the task, the child or parent can tick that they’ve done it, and the additional funds are transferred across along with their weekly pocket money. You can also restrict where the card is used (Online/Shops/Cashpoint) and set weekly/transactional/cash withdrawal spending limits.

Both the parent and the child have access to the website and/or App on laptops/tablets/mobiles etc and can see statements of spending and current balance etc. It is also possible for parent to instantly transfer funds to child account should the need arise. The child also has the option to set-up various saving pots and can allocate some of their weekly allowance to the savings pot. I particularly like this feature as I know there are certain things Sam would like to save up for, such as a new XBox game coming out early next year. I like the fact that I can see where Sam is spending the money and that I can set various limits to his spending.

I really wanted to get this set-up and activated prior to Sam’s 8th birthday next week, and luckily, the GoHenry website allows you to sign-up one month before the child’s 8th birthday. I signed up online last week and received the card in the post today. I then spent the evening activating it and setting up the weekly pocket money and task list.
Now, this is where I got a little stuck. I had questions like how much money does an 8 year old need? What kind of tasks should I set and how much should I allocate to each task?? I had concerns too – if I pay my child to do household chores, will I then be stuck with a child who refuses to do anything unless he’s paid for it?? A valid concern! So, I Googled again, and unfortunately, Google was not my friend! So, I thought I’d write about my experiences here, in the hope that it may help some of you who are also looking at this same issue and have Googled ‘GoHenry Task list’ and ‘how much pocket money’ etc ūüôā

So, this is what I finally opted for (subject to change!):

Weekly Allowance (paid on Saturday): £2.00
To get this, we expect good behaviour, homework to be done, get himself dressed in the mornings, brush teeth and eat his meals. Small adhoc tasks, in my eyes, will fall under the ‘good behaviour’ category!

Weekly Task List

  • Reading (15mins) – 1 of 4 – ¬£0.25
  • Reading (15mins) – 2 of 4 – ¬£0.25
  • Reading (15mins) – 3 of 4 – ¬£0.25
  • Reading (15mins) – 4 of 4 – ¬£0.25
  • Vacuum House – ¬£1.00
  • Unload/Load Dishwasher – ¬£1.00
  • Strip the beds (3 beds) – ¬£1.00
  • Try new food (subject to availabilty) – ¬£0.50

One-Off Payments (Rewards)

  • School Achievement Certificate – ¬£3.00
  • Bronze School Award – ¬£5.00
  • Silver School Award – ¬£5.00
  • Gold School Award – ¬£5.00

I have no idea how this is going to work out. What I wanted was a set amount that Sam will get as a reward for doing the usual things that are expected of him. If he’s particularly badly behaved one week, he will not get the ¬£2.00 allowance. I also wanted to give him the option to earn additional money for proper, real-world tasks. Not wishy washy simple kiddy tasks, but actual housework tasks that will be a huge help to us as a family but will also give him the necessary life skills for a modern day man! I won’t make him vacuum the house, do the dishwasher or strip the beds, but I estimate that all three tasks would equate to an hours work and therefore ¬£3 seems a reasonable amount to earn for this. If he’s motivated enough to earn this money, then hopefully he will knuckle down and do it (watch this space!).

There are other things that I struggle to get Sam to do – namely reading and trying new foods. So, I’ve allowed an extra ¬£1 per week for an hours worth of reading split over 4 nights, plus 50p each time he’s brave enough to try a new food.

Finally, there is a reward system in place at his school where kids can earn stickers for good behaviour, which translate to bronze, silver and gold awards throughout the school year. These are great achievements, so I wanted to financially award these too.

That’s it for now. I’ve set-up all the tasks and the first money transfer happens this Saturday. I will sit down and explain all this to Sam over the weekend and see what he makes of it all. I predict he will blow all his money on silly little toys etc over the next few weeks, but am hoping it will settle down into a more balanced saving/spending plan. I also predict that the task list may need tweaking! Finally, I’m pretty sure I face some tantrums from the 5 year old who’s missing out on all this until he turns 8 himself!!!

If any of you are reading this and are interested in signing up for a GoHenry card yourself, then if you follow this link, you should get the first 3 months free plus ¬£5 deposited into your account for free! This particular link is also linked to our account, which means my Sam will also get ¬£5.00 for referring you!! Once you’re signed up, you also get the chance to earn ¬£5 for each referral! A¬†fab way of spreading the word of this great product!

Sign up for Go Henry Card