Pampering the pocket

MONEY TALKS


Our kids need to learn that money doesn't grow on trees, nor is there an endless supply of notes in the ATM machines,” say parents in the City who have to factor pocket money into the weekly budget for Generation Z, which has also been labelled the ‘I want it now’ brigade.

Unlike teens, a couple of decades ago, young people today (from ages six upwards) are under a lot of pressure to have the right look, wear the right brands and own the right gadgets. They also need money in their pockets to spend time with their peers, for hanging out at malls, coffee shops, ice cream parlours or movie theatres. Some kids get money whenever they ask for it. Some don't get any money at all!

Once the decision is made to allow kids some pocket money, how do parents strike a balance between over-indulgence and stringent budgeting? Do kids have to earn it or get it regularly without too many strings attached?

 “It depends on personal choice and circumstances. Rather than giving in to persistent demands for the latest fad, encourage your children to work out ways to save up for expensive items they want while ensuring that their essential needs are covered,” says Malathi Bhat, child psychologist .

Thirteen-year-old Sachit has a Blackberry, the latest branded accessories and receives fifty rupees a day as ‘lunch money’. “Besides this, I get around Rs 200 to 500 a week to cover basic stuff like fizzy drinks, snacks and the occasional movie ticket. My parents pay my cellphone bills and if I need a little extra to entertain my friends, they don’t mind too much,” he smiles.

Shifa Ali, an eleventh grader has a weekly budget that covers typical teenage stuff like hanging out at the mall, lunch with friends, an occasional ice cream/coffee shop visit or weekend movie.

“My mum gives me Rs 500 each weekend as pocket money. Cellphone bills are separately budgeted for. I spend Rs 750 a month on a prepaid card and don’t use the landline at home. Some weekends are quiet so the money stretches even further. If I need to buy birthday gifts for friends or go to the beauty parlour then she comes up with extra for those expenses,” she explains.

Raymond Marshall, a 16-year-old Josephite says that Rs 600 per month is adequate to cover his school canteen and minor pocket expenses. “I get Rs 300 extra per month for a prepaid cellphone card and since I get dropped off to school every day, I don’t need transport money. My folks don’t mind coming up with something extra if I ask them but that rarely happens,” he says.

Annapurna does not believe that giving her son Shreyas, an eighth grader, regular sums of pocket money is a good idea. “I do give him a small amount to spend at the canteen. If he is going out with friends for a movie he gets enough for his ticket and some popcorn. We don’t find it necessary to give him a separate allowance,” she says firmly.

“Handling  pocket money can teach kids about budgeting, spending and saving. This generation will be exposed to credit at an early age so encourage them to save a specific amount of their pocket money towards items they are saving for,” adds Malathi.

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