How Best to Give your Children Cash

To many, pocket money is a fundamental part of growing up and holds immense significance in the development of a South African child’s financial acumen and decision-making skills. Embracing the concept of pocket money is more than just a tradition; it is a way to instill financial responsibility, budgeting discipline, and thoughtful spending habits from an early age.

Key Takeaways

  • Chore-Based Allowances: Linking pocket money to tasks can teach children the correlation between effort and financial rewards, fostering a sense of responsibility.
  • Saving & Investment: Encouraging kids to save a portion of their pocket money introduces them to the concepts of future planning, interest, and the power of compounded growth.
  • Distinguishing Wants vs. Needs: Through real-world scenarios, children can learn the art of prioritising their spending, a vital skill in today’s consumerist society.
  • Budgeting Lessons: Practical experiences in managing their money within set limits can help kids understand the importance of budgeting.

Why Understanding Pocket Money is Crucial for South African Parents

The concept of pocket money is not just about handing over a bit of money to your child once in a while. It is a subtle introduction to the complex world of financial management, self-discipline, and economic awareness. For parents in South Africa, there is more than just a monetary transaction taking place here.

Historically, many parts of South Africa faced significant economic challenges, which led to vast disparities in wealth distribution. This, in turn, has had a pronounced effect on the younger generation. By starting the conversation about money early on, parents are giving their children an essential toolset. These tools not only help in understanding the value of hard-earned money but also offer a perspective on the socio-economic landscape of the country.

Now, consider the youth of South Africa – vibrant, hopeful, and full of dreams. By navigating the topic of pocket money correctly, parents can set them on a path where they are not just dreaming but also achieving. A sound understanding of financial management from a young age helps to breed a generation of well-informed adults, ready to tackle the nation’s financial challenges head-on.

The Role of Teaching Financial Responsibility Early On

Navigating through South Africa’s financial world requires more than just money—it demands a certain skill and understanding that only education can provide.

The Financial Challenges South African Youths Face

Youth unemployment rates, inflation, and the shifting global economy all influence the financial ecosystem of South Africa. Young individuals often grapple with these complex challenges early in their adult life. Thus, having a strong financial foundation, laid during their formative years, becomes invaluable. It is not just about counting coins but understanding their value in the larger economic picture.

Instilling a Savings Culture in the Era of Instant Gratification

Modern culture, with its instant gratifications, can sometimes overshadow the age-old wisdom of “saving for a rainy day.” However, the economic realities of South Africa make it imperative to rekindle this wisdom. By integrating savings lessons with pocket money, children learn the advantages and joys of delayed gratification, the pride in achieving a savings goal, and the security that comes from financial preparedness.

Age-Appropriate Amounts: How Much and When?

As children grow, so do their financial needs and understanding. Tailoring pocket money to their age can help in providing relevant lessons at every stage.

Toddlers and Preschoolers: Starting Small

At this age, the very idea of money is abstract. But introducing small amounts, perhaps for a job well done or a chore completed, can initiate a sense of achievement. It is less about the amount and more about the association of effort with reward.

Primary School Age: Balancing Wants and Needs

Primary schoolers are at a phase where they begin distinguishing between wants and needs. They might yearn for a toy while also understanding the need for new school supplies. Guiding them in making decisions with their pocket money, weighing wants against needs, can offer crucial life lessons in prioritisation.

Teenagers: Preparing for Independence

Teenage years are often marked by a quest for independence. They are also a time when many financial habits solidify. Ensuring teenagers have a reasonable grasp of financial management, coupled with the responsibility of a more substantial allowance, sets the stage for their upcoming adult years.

The Mechanisms: How to Hand Over the Cash

Today, the term ‘cash’ transcends paper and metal. In a digital age, there are myriad ways to manage and transfer money.

Traditional Cash-in-Hand Approach

While digital methods rise in popularity, there is still merit in using the traditional cash-in-hand approach, especially for younger children. Physically counting, saving, or spending helps in grounding the concepts of money.

Electronic Transfers: The Digital Era of Allowances

For tech-savvy teenagers, electronic transfers might resonate more. Apps and online platforms, with parental controls, offer a modern twist to pocket money. They also introduce youngsters to the realm of digital banking and financial technology, aligning with South Africa’s progressive banking technology.

Prepaid Cards and Child Bank Accounts in South Africa

Several South African banks have introduced child-friendly accounts and prepaid cards. These not only empower children with a sense of ownership but also familiarise them with banking procedures, setting a foundation for future financial engagements.

Earning It: Linking Pocket Money to Chores

Marrying the concept of money with work is essential for inculcating a sense of value, discipline, and understanding of real-world dynamics.

Advantages of Chore-based Allowances

When children earn their pocket money, it transforms from just being ‘spending money’ to ‘hard-earned money’. This small shift in perception creates a broader understanding of the effort-value equation. It is not merely about receiving; it is about deserving. This approach can be an excellent foundation for work ethics and value appreciation.

Setting up a System: Which Chores and How Much?

The key is to find a balance. Not every chore should be monetised – after all, contributing to household tasks is part of family responsibility. However, having a few tasks that are linked to pocket money can work wonders. Whether it is mowing the lawn, doing laundry, or managing their study time, assigning a monetary value teaches them the correlation between effort and financial reward.

» More info: Essential tips to teach kids about saving.

Encouraging Savings and Investments

While spending teaches children about money’s immediate value, saving and investing open doors to its future potential.

The Significance of Saving in South African Context

In a country with a diverse economic landscape like South Africa, understanding the power of savings can be transformative. Savings provide a buffer against unforeseen expenses, helping children realise that money can also be a safety net, not just a means of acquisition.

Introducing Them to Local Banks and Saving Schemes

Many South African banks offer attractive saving schemes for the younger generation. Guiding children towards these options not only familiarises them with formal banking procedures but also introduces them to the world of interest, growth, and financial patience.

Kid-friendly Investment Opportunities

While advanced financial instruments might be a topic for older teenagers, younger children can still get a taste of investments. Whether it is buying a recurring product to sell at a profit or pooling resources for a small community project, there are countless micro-investment opportunities that can offer invaluable lessons.

Discussing Wants vs. Needs

In the age of consumerism, distinguishing between wants and needs is a skill that even adults sometimes struggle with.

Practical Exercises to Help Them Distinguish

Engage children in real-world scenarios. Perhaps, during shopping, ask them to list items based on their necessity. Guide them in understanding why certain items are ‘needs’ while others are ‘wants’. Such exercises not only help in making informed decisions but also in budgeting resources efficiently.

Building Awareness: Price Tags and South African Economy

Teach children to look beyond the price tag. Discuss the factors that might influence the cost – be it the economic climate, import duties, or local production. Such discussions not only enhance their financial knowledge but also make them more aware consumers.

Pocket Money and Education: Teaching Budgeting

Budgeting is a critical skill, often overlooked but indispensable for financial stability.

Incorporating Financial Lessons in Daily Life

Whether it is planning a weekend activity within a set budget or managing their monthly pocket money without running out, real-life scenarios are the best classrooms. It is about ensuring they experience both abundance and lack within safe boundaries, so they are better prepared for the real world.

Useful Local Resources and Tools

South Africa boasts a plethora of financial literacy tools tailored for the youth. From bank-initiated programs to government-sponsored workshops, there is a wealth of resources waiting to be tapped into.

Addressing Peer Pressure and Social Aspects

Growing up, children often face the tug of peer pressure, and financial matters are no exception.

The Reality of Socio-economic Disparities Among Schoolmates

It is essential to address the elephant in the room. Some children might receive more pocket money than others, not necessarily based on needs but due to differing family financial statuses. Honest conversations about these disparities can instill empathy, understanding, and humility.

Coaching Resilience and Financial Self-confidence

Instead of letting children be swayed by what others possess, teach them to find contentment in their financial decisions. Equip them with the confidence to stand by their financial choices, irrespective of the opinions of their peers.

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Pitfalls to Avoid

Every journey has its set of challenges, and the journey of financial literacy is no exception.

Overcompensating and Spoiling

Parents want the best for their children, which is of course only natural. However, continuously yielding to their demands can set a dangerous precedent. Striking a balance between generosity and discipline is crucial.

Neglecting Discussions on Money Management

Avoiding the topic of money or considering it taboo can leave children unprepared. Regular, open conversations about finances, even mistakes and regrets, can offer more education than any formal course.


In the vast financial landscape of South Africa, pocket money becomes more than just currency; it transforms into a tool for empowerment, education, and evolution. By understanding its nuances and leveraging its potential, parents can sculpt a generation that is not only financially adept but also economically compassionate. Through coins, notes, and digital transfers, lies a path to a brighter, more prosperous future for the South African youth.


At what age should I start giving my child pocket money?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this as it largely depends on the child’s understanding and maturity. However, many parents begin introducing pocket money around the age of 5 or 6 when children start grasping basic math concepts and the idea of trading money for goods.

Should pocket money always be tied to chores or tasks?

While linking pocket money to chores can instill a strong work ethic and an understanding of the effort-reward relationship, whilst it is not mandatory. Some families opt to provide a base allowance and offer opportunities to earn extra through chores. Others give pocket money as a means of teaching money management, irrespective of chores. It is prudent to find what aligns with your family values and financial lessons you wish to impart.

How can I teach my child about saving and investment using their pocket money?

Start with the basics. Introduce a savings jar or a piggy bank where they can set aside a portion of their pocket money. As they grow older, graduate them to savings accounts at a bank. Use their pocket money to demonstrate concepts of interest, growth, and compound returns. Encourage micro-investments, like buying and selling small items, to introduce them to profit and loss concepts.

My child wants to spend all their pocket money immediately. How do I instill patience?

It is completely natural for children to gravitate towards immediate gratification. Begin by setting saving goals. For instance, if they want a more expensive toy or gadget, guide them in saving their pocket money over weeks or months to purchase it. Over time, they will learn the value of delayed gratification and the joy of achieving a savings goal.

How do I address peer pressure related to pocket money and spending among my child’s friends?

Honest communication is key. Discuss with your child that every family has different financial situations and values. Teach them to be proud and confident in their financial decisions and to stand by them. Engaging in regular money talks and reinforcing the values and reasoning behind your family’s pocket money decisions can help build resilience against peer pressure.

How much do you need?
*Representative example: Estimated repayments of a loan of R30,000 over 36 months at a maximum interest rate including fees of 27,5% APR would be R1,232.82 per month.

Loan amount R100 - R250,000. Repayment terms can range from 3 - 72 months. Minimum APR is 5% and maximum APR is 60%.