“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is” said Oscar Wilde.

A child is born and it is considered auspicious to greet the newborn with money as a blessing. According to the status of an individual, the child is handed a hundred or thousand rupee note, placed into its tiny fist. Oblivious to the gesture or its meaning, the child begins the journey of life, to soon realize the worth of money.

Money, to an innocent child who is just learning the ways of the world, is something that is seen as a pack of papers shaped, designed and painted in shades of green. These papers are stacked together and stuffed in wallets or found in purses. To a small kid, its denomination or value holds no meaning. They may be fascinated and intrigued by money but in most cases infants are oblivious to its utility. But as these infants enter school, they learn numbers and also learn how to count money. They are taught to learn the denominations of the currency and conversion from rupees to paisa and vice versa. Slowly the idea of money settles in the mind and the concept of money as a means to purchase things evolves. They come to realize that money is valuable and helps to buy all goods right from chocolates to books. With gradual physical and mental growth, children learn to understand its utility and worth.

When I was a child, my grandmother had an old, rusted and solid trunk that secretly stored all her treasures and monies. Why the trunk was always locked? What was so special about money that it had to be kept hidden? It gave me the idea that money was treasure to be stored away in safety. I remember as a child I would cherish each penny each nickel that I found, owned and collected. Money was not easily accessible back in childhood. For us, children every rupee was to be accounted for and every demand for money would be questioned. Not only the demand but also the reason had to be a solid one. I would always wonder where the money at home came from. I would accompany my father on his trips to the banks and that is when I would see my father withdrawing money at the counter. Did the banks print and mint the money? But soon these childish thoughts changed and I realized that money neither grew on trees nor get produced at banks.

In earlier times, people didn’t have lots of money to splurge on every other item in the market. The flow of money was not totally free. In those days, having an ice-cream on the weekend and a picnic during vacations was considered to be luxuries. But with rise in standard of living of people, the concept of money and expenditure changed a lot. When parents started earning more, they started giving more money to children.

In the present scenario, children are given pocket money. The question that arises is whether children should be given pocket money. If all the basic requirements are fulfilled by parents, then isn’t the money a waste? What all do children need? They need healthy food, good clothes, books, stationary and toys. The parents cater to all these needs. Children, who know the worth of money, will refuse to buy toys and goodies once they are out of a certain age. Students need notebooks and stationary all the time. They keep running to the retailers every now and then. Normally, the same products would come in cheaper rates if purchased in bulk from a wholesale market. So, smart children should urge their parents to do the same.

Is the need for pocket money genuine? In such a situation, pocket money is nothing but extra money. Due to this extra money and a knack for a lavish lifestyle; children may fall in vices, take up bad habits and complicate things for themselves. Money has a wicked side and if it is available easily children fail to recognize its value. They become airy and arrogant, flaunting their riches, thinking that money can buy everything.  From this point of view, is giving money to children may not be advisable?

However, another trend of thought goes that if children are allowed to handle money, they could also learn to deal with money judiciously. So, if pocket money is used to meet small expenses independently. The ideas of having bank accounts and deposits generate curiosity and they learn about the process of banking. It also comes in handy while solving math as they can understand topics like simple interest and rate of interest in a real sense. At the same time, bright kids who are sensible save their pocket money to indulge in charitable donations, celebrations, a good movie or simply a happy saving for future endeavors.

Today the case is different to what it was earlier; money holds a different meaning for the present children. Right from an early age, children are exposed to advertisements and hoardings which display money as a precious commodity which needs to be generated and multiplied. Children are exposed to media like television and internet which make them aware of the necessity of money. So, young kids learn to save and use money judiciously early in life.

It is important for children to understand the responsibility that comes when you have money. They must be aware that money saved is money earned. Children must know that the saved money is for a brighter, happier future, the God-forbid troubled times and sudden emergencies. Hence it is essential to instill the habit of saving and valuing money at a young age. However, money should not make children blind and tarnish beautiful memories of childhood, that is, children should not bother about money all the time instead of playing and studying. Children should always remember the words of the celebrated children’s books author Jonathan Swift

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”