Ah, pocket-money! To save or not to save - that is the question. Or, to put it another way (because this is the Daily Blog and I know you will expect an
alternative perspective from me) to spend or not to spend - which is a different question (as Shakespeare never said, at least as far as I know.)
to confess that for some years I never thought about giving my poor deprived foursome pocket money. In the end, they had to form a deputation and make a case for some fiscal independence. Their argument was based on the fact that the ubiquitous
Everybody Else's Mother (I never liked her, ever) gave her children pocket money. Every week. Without fail.
So I forked out. It was the least I could
do - even though I was already sending them to school every week with the money to buy the cheaper of the two National Savings stamps - the one with Princess Anne on the front. We couldn't afford Prince Charles (then, as now, some would say...)
Each child received a number of pence according to his or her age. Which was pretty stingy of me, but it was coming out of the house-keeping money and we had to eat.
Nor was the money replaced if they were careless enough to lose it - unless it was the Littlest One who lost his two bright pennies. After all, he was only two and usually kept his tuppence in his pocket in the doubtful company of a couple of caterpillars
being nursed back to health (I know, you couldn't make it up, could you?), three elastic bands, a half-eaten biscuit and an assortment of toy motor cars. As you can imagine, its safety was far from assured.
I think these early exercises in money management must have paid off, if only in terms of helping my small fry (now all grown up, of course) understand that if you want something, you have to save
up for it. Or work for it, which is even more character-building. The Middle of the Darling Daughters, for example, happily spent her Saturday mornings mucking out horses at a local stables, in return for an hour's riding lesson.
Was that better than money in the bank? I rather think so. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters saved up enough money - from litter-picking, baby-sitting and weekend shop duties - to fulfil her dream of visiting her pen-pal in Australia. It took her about
8 years in all, from the age of 13, to save up enough money to persuade Australia to allow her into the country - and I was oh, so proud of her.
I was about 16 my mother decided to pay me and my younger sister what was rather grandly called "a clothing allowance" of £5 a quarter. Even in those days, this was not a princely sum, especially as it had to cover everything from shoes upwards.
My sister had the right idea - she conscientiously saved her fiver every quarter, building up a fair old bank balance. My parents bought her clothes anyway, because they couldn't see her go without. Me - oh, I spent the money. Or, rather,
I saved to spend.
And I do still remember two particular items of clothing bought with my precious allowance. A bright red dress, with tartan bow
and kick pleats. And a green coat with velvet trim which I purchased over several weeks from Mr B's Dad's catalogue. I wouldn't remember them, would I, all these years later, had the mere act of saving up, then spending, my money not been so energising,
so empowering, so very grown-up?
Ok, so now I must confess. The subject matter for today's blog has been determined solely by the fact that I am entering
it for the Super Kids Savers competition. I won't win, of course, because in my ceaseless efforts to amuse you, my readers, I have taken my eye off the main aim - which is to write something which will please the competition sponsors, moneysupermarket.com.
I should have written about piggy banks and savings certificates, not caterpillars in pockets. And I should have been stressing the virtues of saving, rather than spending. Though I do think my overall message is a pretty good one - that to
realise your dreams (whether that dream be riding classes, a year in Australia or a bright red dress with a tartan bow) your best, and most satisfying, bet is to save up your pennies and pounds, rather than rely on anyone else to subsidise you.
If by some miracle I do win the £1000 prize, then I plan to share it equally between my Magnificent Seven grandchildren plus Ninja Baby (who
is not yet born, but you can't start too early, you know.) I shall adopt my Sensible Nanna Voice and advise them all to save their £125 for a rainy day.
Which reminds me, have you seen the weather forecast...?