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.
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?