I is for Income


When I was a kid, my father gave my brother and myself pocket money.  To earn the money we were expected to mind our manners, keep our rooms reasonably tidy, and take turns drying the dishes and clearing the table.

We received two shillings each.  This was back in the days when Australia still used pounds, shillings and pence – twelve pennies to the shilling, twenty shillings to the pound.  That all changed in 1966 when we moved to dollars and cents.

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Anyway, in those days, two shillings went quite a way.  Lollies were four for a penny. A small chocolate bar was threepence. A ten year old could make herself seriously sick by spending the whole two shillings in one hit, so I came up with my very first budget.

I put cardboard dividers into a biscuit tin so that there were eight separate sections.  Then I asked Dad to give me my pocket money in the form of eight threepenny pieces – one for each section.

This piece of brilliance allowed me to have money for each day of the week and a little for an emergency.  Coupled with my extra income derived from scavenging for bottles in the vacant lot beside the picture theatre, I had sufficient for my daily needs and a nice little savings pile.  Even Dad was impressed.

Now the obvious problem with this fantastic financial solution was that it attracted the attention of my younger brother who had no fiscal sense whatever.  His two shillings was gone within an hour of its being received.  Watching me have goodies each and every afternoon while he had to go without, made him upset and jealous.  Mum and Dad told him that it was not my fault that he had spent all his money so quickly and that he had no reason to complain.  This did little to calm his annoyance.

My biscuit tin had to find a different hiding spot every day to escape his marauding fingers.


I tried..really I did..to show my brother my method of handling the pocket money, but he wouldn’t listen.  Every Saturday he would dash off to the corner shop and spend his two shillings.  Some weeks he would put his bag of sweets into the fridge, saying that he was going to only eat a few each day.  It never worked.  Chocolate has a way of calling to you from the deepest recesses of a refrigerator.  ‘Eat me.  Eat me. Just a little bite.’ He could never resist just one more little bite.

Did you receive pocket money when you were a kid?  How much? What did you spend it on?


8 thoughts on “I is for Income

  1. I didn’t really get pocket money when I was a kid, but my parents would buy me little things when I asked. We lived in the country, so it wasn’t like I could go to the corner store to buy it for myself.

    Your story of you and your brother reminds me of my two boys. One is a saver, the other is a spender.

  2. Two shillings? Luxury. Growing up in the 1950s, my brother, sister and I received sixpence each week, if we were good enough, which wasn’t every week! Of course, when we did have it, it all went on sweets.

    1. I had to negotiate hard to get it to two shillings, Keith. It was very easy to incur deductions as a result of less than desirable behaviour.

  3. Love this! You were an excellent saver early on. Some people are just born budgeters. We had a similar situation in our household growing up, though ours had to do with budgeting candy. I was able to stretch my candy stores from Halloween out until Christmas, then Christmas to Valentine’s, Valentine’s to Easter and so on. My brothers were the “eat it now” type and always ran out. The jealousy issue you faced was one we saw as well. 🙂 Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

  4. When my dad went to the grocery store, he would buy me a little box of pretzels or raisins so I could save my 25 cents allowance I got each week. I still remember how I saved that money to help bring my brother back from Africa where he was a missionary – we are 20 years apart. I am glad I was taught to be a saver.

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