Teaching your child about money

Whenever I asked for something that involved spending money my mother would always say "You probably think I'm Sol Kezner!". I spent most of my childhood wondering who Sol Kerzner was and why he was not my parent, because, if he was, surely I would get everything I wanted. I didn't receive pocket money and perhaps this could be one of the reasons I tend to be a little reckless when it comes to managing my coin.

I soon learnt that one needs money to buy things and in order to have money you have to work for it. Money is indeed an essential part of life and children need to learn the relative price of goods.

However, people have different ways of parenting and how they approach the idea of teaching their kids about money. So I spoke to parents and their children about how they go about teaching their kids about money and the children how they manage their money from what they have been taught by their parents.

Why do you give your child pocket money?

Thandolwethu Silimela, mother of 11-year-old Siphosethu Silimela explains that she doesn't give Siphosethu pocket money because he is still young and "has no real use for money". Siphosethu also agrees with his mother. He says he doesn't "really need pocket money".

As an alternative Thandolwethu has started to "expose him to budgeting". She adds that "I've done this in a way that he would understand. When he wants a new game or book, we take time out to budget for it and he has to wait for when I have saved enough or have extra money to buy it for him."

Khangi Gura, mother of 12-year-old Lihle Gura explains that she gives him money to cover his activities for the month such as going to the movies with friends so that she doesn't have to pay for it.

When is the perfect time to start giving your kids pocket money?

Thandolwethu feels that the right time would be High School - for when he starts carrying lunch money and starts hanging out with his friends in social spaces.

Khangi Gura also says that the best time "is when they start going out on their own, or with friends".

How do you decide how much to give your child?

Both parents say that the decision is based on their children's interests and what they like doing as well as treats the like to eat so that the pocket money can cover such expenses. Thandolwethu explains that if Siphosethu would ask for more than what he receives to make a purchase she "Would give him the amount he needs as a loan and he would have to pay me back a fraction by finding a part time job."

Lihle Gura son of Khangi Gura, explains that "I get R300 a month and save R150". His reason for saving is driven by his mom telling him that she will no longer be paying for his activities with friends.

Do the children have to work for it?

Thandolwethu says that as soon as she starts giving him pocket money young Siphosethu would have to work for money but they need to be clear on what they are working towards. She also doesn't believe in paying him for chores at home because as a person living there, he should be helping out. "It is after also his home."

Instilling the value of money

Khangi says she teaches him how to manage his money by not giving him more than the R300 she gives him, "He knows that he won't get more therefore he has to save some and not use it all at once." Thandolwethu says that Siphosethu has a strong interest in Manga animation and wants to start his own business one day, in order to reach his dream he needs a toolkit to create his comics. "We sat down and cross checked the costs of the tool kit and worked out how much we had and how long we had to save for it. I made him understand if he were to turn this passion into a real business, I would act as an investor in his business and provide him with capital," she says.

The boys were asked what have they learnt about money, Siphosethu Silimela (11) shared that "Money is the root of all evil because people become desperate and buy wine instead of buying food with the money". Lihle Gura (12) on the other hand mentions that "Money can make or break you especially when you have to start borrowing money and owing people money when you didn't save."

If you are keen to teach your child about money, consider the following: provide your child with pocket money and teach them money skills. Use a clear jar to save. Set an example. Show them that stuff costs money.

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