The modern parent's guide to pocket money

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

For years we attempted the cash pocket money thing. Each week we either wouldn't have the right money on us, or we'd forget completely.

Pocket money became a source of relentless stress - the constancy of having to remember, or remember that we had forgotten, then it all getting lost in the craziness of a week with three kids. Then there were the issues around lost coins and worse, the accusations that their sibling had been responsible.

The piggy bank might have worked when they were little, but now our teen and tween were increasingly independent and aware they were being short changed. They did their weekly jobs, yet weren't seeing the same consistency from us.

Something had to give - we needed a solution that meshed with our reliance on electronic banking. We needed cashless automation and to give the kids a measure of control over their finances that didn't hinge on wallets and coins.

Kids rarely see us deal in cash these days. We tap just about everything and it's impossible for a young mind to learn financial lessons just by watching us tap a card. It's too abstract and they don't see the dwindling account on the other end of that card. Plus, they had no reason to control or think about spending when cash was burning a hole in their pockets.

The good news is that there are real world options for digital wallets these days so that kids can effectively manage their pocket money electronically. They learn lessons in regulating their spending behaviour by having both a card, and access to an app.

Other options provide tracking tools so that younger kids and their parents can stay on top of chores and money owed for them.

Here are some options:

Pocket money apps

Pocket money apps are relatively new on the scene and are specifically tailored for the purpose. They're simple to run and built to appeal to children and inspire them to set goals and use money mindfully by giving them access and control.

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Depending on the features of the individual app, parents are catered for with automated deposits, the ability to monitor their child's spending and money habits, and assist them to set realistic goals. Generally those with banking functions attract a yearly fee, while there are free chore trackers where you still have to deal with cash or a bank transfer.

Spriggy

Parents transfer money to the parent wallet and can set automated payments into child's Spriggy account. Children receive a debit card and have their own app log in to set and maintain savings goals. Has a yearly fee.

Pennybox

A free app that provides a way for kids and parents to keep track of money being earned and spent. Parents give children the money themselves - could be used in conjunction with a regular bank account.

Bank account

No big reveals here, but banks have moved with the times to make electronic banking more accessible for kids. While some schools still run deposit book schemes, this method is probably most advantageous for very young children learning their first lessons in money.

Even very young children from age 4 can handle entry into the electronic banking world.

Many banks and credit unions offer kids bank accounts - this is nothing new. They cost nothing to run, and often offer interest bonuses.

Depending on the age of your child, you may want a more traditional set-up where you control the account. For older, increasingly independent children, look for a banking product that features a management app with child log-in and debit card options.

Make sure to read the CHOICE guide to avoid common pitfalls and how to choose a provider.

Commonwealth Bank

ANZ

NAB

Westpac

Suncorp

St George

Since we switched to electronic pocket money six months ago, I've seen a drastic change in my kids' money habits. One has started saving for a car at the tender age of 10 and the other has saved half of the cost of a pair of sneakers that I refuse to buy him.

It really isn't that much different to when we were kids counting up the coins in our money boxes, but it's a lot more effective and a lot less of a headache for us.