Friday, 7 December 2012

It’s Pocket Money Day!

Being a thrifty sort of a mummy (the clue IS in the name), I’ve always tried to encourage my two to save attempting the old ‘pocket money in exchange for tasks’ technique with varying degrees of success.   

They are only 9 and 6, so I’m realistic about how much they will help around the house – or how much they will save – but, as they know that I won’t waste £2.99 on a comic, they do (when they remember) attempt to earn enough to cover the cost themselves.  The problem, of course, is that they (and me) quite often forget what they’re supposed to be doing and when – especially when the other ‘stuff’ gets in the way – like school, homework, swimming lessons, rugby, ballet and the rest.

So, our patchy approach to pocket money, I jumped at the chance to get better organised by taking part in testing out a new site aimed at encouraging kids saving habits. 

PKTMNY is a website that helps parents to monitor their kids spending (and decide how much they’re going to give them!) while the children themselves get their own debit card (don’t worry, you set the spending limit) and can save for items on their ‘wishlist’ (which they post on their page as a nice visual goal to aim for).  All sounds good, I thought, and in this tech savvy day and age, something that my two would probably be more interested in.

On setting up their accounts, I had the choice of setting up regular pocket money, paying one-off amounts (presumably for ‘special’ treats) and paying money for completion of specific tasks.   
Set them tasks and tick them off as they're done - simple!

Being a mean sort *evil laugh* I’ve only set it up for the latter.  I already save for my children in other ways and really wanted to use this site to encourage them to save money while also helping out.  I like the idea of being financially rewarded for tasks – it’s how the world of work operates after all – so I don’t think it’s too bad a lesson to learn.  Or one that can be learned too early.

So, two weeks in and the kid’s cards have arrived (much excitement on their part).  However, their earnings have been pitifully low.  ‘Oh no, are we back in the cycle of us all forgetting and it all falling flat on its face?’ 

Well, I actually think probably not.  Part of the problem has been the time of year – it’s Christmas with all the accompanying activities and ridiculous amounts of end of term homework – so in other words, it’s been the busiest couple of weeks so far this year.

But last night, when they sat down with me to ‘get paid’, they could see the tasks they had and hadn’t done alongside how much they could have earned.  There’s nothing like a visual reminder to send a message home.   

Rather than arguing with me that they had fed the cats (who were meowing through hunger at our feet at the time!) they were both rather sheepish on discovering how little they’d achieved when I only ticked 2 out of the possible 5 tasks for my eldest and 2 out of the 3 for my youngest.  However, rather than the usual whining about how they’d forgotten (which usually quickly escalates into how totally unfair life is) there was instead lots of chat between the two of them about how they were going to help this week; how much they would have by this Saturday and how much they might have by the end of the year.  So, judging by their very enthusiastic discussions, I am cautiously optimistic.

My two are still young but I think it’s important for them to earn their own money.  I earned pocket money as a child and that really helped me to become a saver.  I remember getting my first part-time job when I was still at school and saving until I had enough to pay for driving lessons.  I was very proud of the fact that I paid for them myself and never had to ask my parents to shell out.  
The kids can keep an eye on their savings going up via the website

I hope that getting the children enthusiastic about saving will set them on the same path.  And the very visual way that the PKTMNY site does this – with obvious rewards and goals to aim for – might be just the way to do it! 

That said, with a current balance of £4, I think it's fair to say that Cheeky Boy is a long way off buying the PS Vita on his Wishlist but you've gotta have a dream!

This post is part of a project with BritMums, sponsored by PKTMNY, highlighting its launch. The new tool allows parents to easily pay and monitor their children's pocket money online, whilst allowing their children to earn, save, spend and manage their money in a totally safe and fun way. We have been trailing the service and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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