Make Pocket Money Equal

Grandparents and the Gender Pay Gap: how to create family-wide pocket money strategies

By Cathy Reay

Cathy Reay

Cathy Reay writes about disability, accessibility and single parenting for the likes of The Guardian, The i and Metro UK

If you’ve nailed talking to the kids about money, but the rest of the family aren’t involved, it can still be a tricky subject to navigate. It’s crucial, therefore, to talk through money matters with the wider family to make sure everyone’s on the same page and none of the kids feel short-changed.

Maybe granny wants to give your eldest a bigger amount because ‘they’re the oldest’, or you live separately from the other parent so money matters have become confused. Perhaps uncle Bob is being too prescriptive with what Max does with his birthday money. Whatever the reason, whoever is involved, here are some tips for how to talk to the family about pocket money:

1. Set ground rules for one-off monetary gifts

We know the Gender Pay Gap exists, so let’s make sure it doesn’t start in childhood. Parents and carers should be steadfast in giving kids equal amounts – regardless of their gender. There may be other reasons you’re comfortable with unequal amounts (for example: one is older, or has had a tough time recently), but whatever your stance, communicate this to family members. If at some point one receives more than the other(s), you could ask those family members to make sure that the next time they give money, they prioritise the short-changed kid(s). Tell family to be open and honest with the kids about why unequal amounts have been given and to reassure them.

2. Encourage transparency and reasoning with your children

Just as you have begun to open up to the kids about money and offer a clearer picture of household finances, ask the other adults in their lives to do the same. When aunty takes them for a day out, she could mention the cost of things and the reasoning behind her decisions. If grandpa decides to slip your youngest a fiver, ask him to explain his decision to the kids and to tell the older ones it’ll be their turn next… and stick to that. You could also encourage the kids to negotiate their pay for certain tasks – if they think they deserve more for hanging out the washing than tidying up the toys, get them to present their reasons why!

You could also encourage the kids to negotiate their pay for certain tasks

3. Create and communicate boundaries on appropriate monetary birthday gifts

If one of your relatives is particularly generous with one of your kids on birthdays and not the other child, or perhaps the amount they give just doesn’t sit right with you, talk to them about it. We want to encourage fairness across the family, while also recognising that a two year-old won’t know what to do with £1,000, but your 18 year-old would have a field day. It’s important to be consistent: if the eldest child gets £100 on their 10th birthday, ensure all their siblings are rewarded with the same amount when they reach that milestone as well.

Talk through what your children want, what they need and what family can realistically offer. Share your boundaries with family members who offer amounts that you feel aren’t appropriate: what’s the maximum you’re comfortable with? Would it be better to buy a gift instead? Could they give an amount that would allow your child(ren) to buy something they have wanted for a while?

4. Let the kids practice financial responsibility with your wider family too

When we give money, especially to kids, we can sometimes be prescriptive about how they spend it. This removes the child’s autonomy and chance to exercise their ability to be financially responsible.

Starling Kite is a great, secure way to give children control over their money while you, as their parent or carer, still have an overview of what’s going on. Kids have a designated Space in your account, which you manage through your app (you can add money, set limits and keep an eye on their spending). Kids are issued their very own debit card to pay for things, so they can see how money enters and leaves their Space through their own version of the app.

When we give money, especially to kids, we can sometimes be prescriptive about how they spend it

Talk to your family and make sure they know that once the money has left their hands – or their bank accounts – they have to let go of any urge they feel to police what the children do with it. Of course, they’re free to offer suggestions and advice, but that’s all it should be. Support them to understand that kids need to make some mistakes with money to help them learn the value of it.

We’re on a mission to Make Pocket Money Equal. Find out more.