BusinessDesk investments editor Frances Cook responds to emails from readers each week, answering questions about money. Below, you will find her expert advice. Send your questions to [email protected].

Today’s column is a little different – rather than sharing a reader problem, it’s sharing a great strategy one reader has found to start talking to his kids about money. 

Hi Frances,

I’m a long-time reader – well done for your awesome column.

Today’s article about giving children knowledge about money struck a chord with me.

We have daughters aged 5 and 7. About 18 months ago, we started giving them $2 and $3 pocket money each week. Family and friends thought this was too early and a bit weird, especially for our youngest, who was probably still three at the time.

But it has transformed their awareness of money and their attitude to buying things.

Obviously, the pocket money isn’t intended to cover their basic needs, but they take a surprising range of decisions into their own hands. Before, every time we went shopping, they would ask for a dozen things that we didn’t want or couldn’t afford to buy. Now we reply, "Have you got your pocket money?". Suddenly they have a sense of what a good price for a muesli bar is, are more inclined to make a friend a birthday present than ask to buy one, are more appreciative when Mum and Dad pay for a treat, and have realised it is good to save.

Yesterday we went to watch a softball game, and the girls were excited to hear there was a hot dog stall. They came back to report with sadness that the hot dogs were pretty expensive at $4, and they wouldn’t have one after all. So I asked whether they would be interested in half a hot dog for $2. They rushed back to the stall, found $4 between them, and asked the stall keeper if they could please cut the hot dog in half and put it in two paper bags. It felt like magic for them to be restrained without me having to say "no".

Thanks again for your column.

Kind regards,


Hi J

This is wonderful and a great demonstration of having the courage to do what’s best for your family, even if it’s not what other people are doing. 

A quick recap for any readers who missed it: J is responding to a letter where I talked about helping your kids with money. While building up savings or investments until they’re 18 is undoubtedly a generous gift, I’m a big fan of finding ways to include them in that journey so that they understand the money decisions you’re making and why. 

If you can only give knowledge or money, I’d pick knowledge every time. Because treating money like a normal topic of conversation, understanding how it works and being curious enough to go looking for more information whenever you find a gap in your knowledge are gifts that will last longer than simply giving money that is likely to be blown by a young adult. 

What you’ve done is a beautiful example of an age-appropriate way to include your kids in the money conversation. Even better: when your daughters found workarounds like the hot dog, you’re giving them a sense of confidence and pride that they can fix money problems. 

This might not work for every family. Kids develop at wildly different rates, especially at this young age. 

But you found a version that clearly does work for your family, and I think that when we share these stories, it helps us all get ideas that we can adapt to our own situations. 

So thanks for sharing it, and great work. 

Send questions to [email protected] if you want to be featured in the column. Emails should be about 200 words, and we won't publish your name. Unfortunately, Frances is not able to respond to every email received or offer individual financial advice. 

Information in this column is general in nature and should not be taken as individual financial advice. Frances Cook and BusinessDesk are not responsible for any loss a reader may suffer.