The Pocket-Money Revolution

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

As we live in an increasingly cashless world – a digital age where the clicking of a button far outweighs the exchange of actual notes and coins – the task of trying to introduce children to the world of financial responsibility has become a thankless one – but is that all about to change?

A recent online phenomenon may be the solution parents have been looking for – granting access to safe ways for kids to save, spend and learn about money. The past few months have seen websites which promote a ‘learning through doing’ culture gain more traction with families.

Whilst no parent is eager to switch their children’s toys for a bank statement and watch them begin working out the interest on their savings – understanding the role money plays in life is a crucial part of growing up. It is also notoriously tricky to explain anything involving numbers to the little ones!

Why exactly are parents flocking to use this service? 

These sites really are a first step to internet banking – a complete platform for children to learn ‘the value of money’ and begin making choices in how they spend any hard-earned rewards. The sites which include KiddiBank, Tardisbank, Oink, goHenry and Roosterbank, pride themselves on making life easier for parents who want to help their youngsters grasp the value of saving – which can involve everything from customising task lists to tailored accounts and even approving real-world purchases. 

“Despite being vital to children’s futures, parents often find it difficult to structure and manage lessons about money and Paris (creator) saw that there was a need for an online solution to help families form constructive conversations about pocket-money. He felt that taking some responsibility for your pocket money in a safe, parent-controlled environment would be immensely valuable for families. It’s a bit like having a child’s piggy-bank in your pocket, without the porcelain”. 
Ben Edwards – Roosterbank’s CEO

Are these sites really a feasible banking solution?

Some have voiced concerns that the level of parental control removes the chance of making mistakes with money – an important lesson for any child to learn – but others have touted this safety and flexibility as vital to the sites’ success so far. 

“We are a family banking solution re-imagined for the 21st century. Parents can set rules and limits for their children by setting single and weekly spending limits, deciding where each card can be used: in shops, on-line or at cash machines and block and unblock cards instantly, without a phone call. This creates a safe environment that gives children the independence and responsibility to manage their money, but under the guidance of a parent”. 
Richard Jones – goHenry’s CEO

Knowing their children can talk about credit, debit and interest alongside their peers in a risk-free community – or only buy products from shops, sites or at times they have customised; alleviates any worries parents may have about exposure to inappropriate content on the web and the misuse of pocket-money.

Many of the online pocket-money services have some form of parental tracking through a separate adult account and are having new features added each month to benefit their audience. Chief amongst these are bonus systems that reward children who save rather than spending immediately; encouraging great habits for the future. It is also wonderful to see a number of integrated charities who can benefit from generous donations – again a brilliant early life-lesson.

What about parents whose lives are non-stop?

The latest tech can already play a pivotal role in how parents can manage their child’s financial choices through these services, with many having built apps to fit into the lives of parents on the move. 

“We’ve made Roosterbank even more convenient with our App, so that parents can record pocket money comings and goings in seconds – supplementing the online account kids currently use to read their balances, view statements and play educational games. The App also helps parents extend money conversations into everyday life situations such as shopping trips!”.  @rooster_bank

Whether this bright and innovative trend will continue to grow remains to be seen – with many feeling this could be a bridge too far for shifting parent/child conversations to the online world; something swept aside by organisations who claim the technology does the opposite – making a difficult subject easier to broach, by being ever-present.

“Everything is managed online or through the goHenry iOS or Android app. The app helps parents and children keep on top of managing the families’ pocket money and also focuses on helping children earn, save and spend responsibly. At goHenry we’re all parents, so we know first-hand what a hassle traditional pocket money can be. We wanted a more simple solution, goHenry takes care of pocket money automatically and makes money management a positive experience for both parent and child.”  @justgoHenry 

Parenting is often about staying flexible to do whatever’s best for your child; so even if managing pocket money on your mobile seems a far cry from your own first experiences with finance – your children having access to a learning resource which could mean they become financially savvy adults, may just be worth embracing.

‘New’ doesn’t always mean better – but for parents looking to introduce their children to finance and responsibility – these sites are hard to fault.