Kids working hard for the money

CLEANING UP: Brianna Illes-Hall, 8, does chores around the house to earn pocket money.
CLEANING UP: Brianna Illes-Hall, 8, does chores around the house to earn pocket money.

Kids, if you want to make money, you'd better get stuck into those dirty dishes, and clean your room while you're at it.

New research commissioned by the Co-operative Bank has found many parents are encouraging a strong work ethic by refusing to hand over money for nothing.

A Nielsen survey of 700 people found 57 per cent of children aged 5 to 15 were paid to do household chores, while 43 per cent got regular pocket money.

Earning your keep is a value that Upper Hutt author Cat Connor has instilled in her seven children. "They know it doesn't just materialise from thin air. You have to work for it," she says.

Her last two children, yet to fly the parental nest, are Caoilfhionn, 15, and Brianna, 8. They earn pocket money for a variety of tasks, including washing dishes, setting the table and walking the dog. Missed chores mean weekly pay gets docked, and there's a pay scale for seniority.

"The little one doesn't get more than $5, and the older one tends to get $10, sometimes more," Connor says. "She gets extras, I top up her phone and stuff, so that's all worked in there."

The Connor girls' earnings fall roughly in line with the results of the Co-operative Bank survey.

About a third of 5 to 15-year-olds earned $2 to $5 a week, while 40 per cent earned between $6 and $10. For those over 15, a third earned $6 to $10 a week, and 36 per cent earned $11 to $20.

Despite the best efforts of some parents, the survey revealed the money message was not getting through to everyone. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said their children were either clueless about money, or could be better.

Co-operative Bank chief executive Bruce McLachlan said money management was one of the most important life skills a parent could pass on. "Right now, not enough young Kiwis are being equipped with good money-management skills, and that needs to change."

That view is shared by Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell, who is working hard to get financial literacy embedded in the school curriculum.

With crucial money decisions occurring as early as the teenage years, she said financial literacy was becoming a vital life skill. "It makes absolute sense to start with children when they're young."

As a mother of two, she has taken financial literacy in her own home to the next level, introducing her daughter to the joys of taxation: "I took $1 off her $5 as a 20 per cent tax on her pocket money, so that she could get her head around the concept."


What some of the major banks are offering to their youngest customers:

ANZ: The School Plus account offers 2 per cent interest on savings, and no fees.

ASB: Headstart account offers no transaction fees, and 2.25 per cent interest on savings. BNZ: Dynamic Money offers no account or transaction fees, and 2.25 per cent on any pocket money saved.

Co-operative Bank: The Dollars and Sense account for under 13s and Dosh account for 13 to 17 year olds pays 5 per cent interest on the first $4000.

Kiwibank: The First Saver youth account pays 2.5 per cent interest, with no account or transaction fees.

Westpac: Online Saver offers up 2.55 per cent interest, as well as no fees and a free moneybox and activity book. Bonus Saver pays up to 3.8 per cent, but only for making at least one deposit a month, with no withdrawals.

Fairfax Media