By Grainne McCool
A few days ago I spoke with my young cousin who has three daughters. They are all aged between four and nine. We got to talking about maths in school and how important the subject really is.
Her two eldest daughters are in primary school and have both been given rave reports about their maths ability. I asked my cousin Sharon if she gives her children pocket money.
She was taken aback as she felt her girls were too young for such but I explained my reason for asking.
“Do you give your child pocket money?” the teacher asked me one Parent’s Day many years ago.
“I do,” I said and in my head I was planning his punishment, thinking he’d done something wrong. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
‘It shows,” she said. I was intrigued.
I must admit it was due to the advice of a very wise friend that I had recently begun to give my three boys pocket money mere months before this incident.
The boy in question was just seven years old and he got €2.50 pocket money each week. This was to cover his sweets, football fee, and anything else he had to purchase during those seven days.
It took a while for him to learn to budget, save, and spend wisely, but in hindsight it was one of the best decisions I’d made as a mother.
The teacher then proceeded to explain that she had been teaching money that week to the class. My son was able to recognise all the coins, and answer every question she posed.
She told me that he could calculate change required from certain priced items immediately and that her first thought was that he must be used to handling money.
She was right. It was at that moment I realised how important it is that we teach our children how to appreciate the value of money while they are young.
Not only did it teach him how to budget and buy only what he could afford, but it taught him basic mental maths. He learned how to add and subtract in his head, and it has stuck with him ever since.
Having finished college earlier this year, the boy had learned to budget wisely on a weekly basis over the past four years. He had rent and bills to pay and of course, he had a social life to fund. On a very small budget he survived week to week. He ate well, his bills got paid and he even managed a wee night out during the college week.
It might sound ridiculous giving a seven year old a weekly budget, but it pays off in the long run. Budgeting for your sweets at seven years of age not only limits your intake of sweets, but it teaches you to count and do basic maths for the rest of your life. Pocket money rocks.
I think my cousin will now be giving her three girls a little bit of pocket money to help them prepare for their future.