When I first read this report stating that:
Australian school children aged 5 to 17 received $1.1 billion in spending money over the Christmas break.
I nearly fell off my chair.
This figure came from research commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank (CBA), which found that Aussie kids received an average of $509 over this school holidays.
According to the study parents forked out at least 50% of this amount. On top of Christmas, back to school and holiday activities this is a huge outlay for parents!
Other money came from Christmas money, pocket money and earnings from part time jobs.
While I haven’t been handing out money freely to my kids, they did get spoilt with gift cards and cash from relatives this year. They have also been earning a little extra selling fruit from our trees and doing a few odd jobs.
With all this money burning a hole in their pockets, there have been numerous trips to the shops.
I was initially against my kids getting money and vouchers for gifts, however I am now a total convert.
It has taught them some great lessons about making choices relating to money. We have had discussions about what things are worth, quantity vs quality and saving for bigger items.
My eldest son learned a valuable lesson when I suggested we leave a shop to have a think before he purchased a certain item. When we returned, he spotted something he wanted even more and wouldn’t have been able to afford if he had made his impulse buy. It was actually a mini-pool table so the added benefit was that the whole family got to use it and he felt a real sense of pride about that.
Both boys also received vouchers to buy video games for their PS4. This was another interesting exercise as they pooled their resources, negotiated on which types of games they bought (they have different tastes) and made sure games were for two-players so they could both benefit. They walked out of the shop with two games, a charging device and still $50 to spare. I was really impressed that at 8 and 11 years old they were able to do that by themselves.
Like 58% of Australian kids today, if I ever had spare money when I was younger it went on things like lollies or trips to the movies. My guys did spend a small percentage on sweets but always bought something for their little sister as well – without any prompting from me!
While I paid for our movie visits and other excursions, the kids bought any extras they wanted while we were out, rarely asking me for anything. That separates them from the kids surveyed by CBA who reportedly asked for money on average 1.3 times a week over the school break.
Overall, having Christmas money taught my kids the following lessons:
- the value of things (monetary vs real value)
- delayed gratification
- decision making skills
- thinking of others
- contributing to the family unit
- being self-sufficient
Needless to say, I’m not longer against the kids receiving money in lieu of presents, because the real gift this Christmas has been the life lessons they have learned.