“Neither a borrower or a lender be.”
This famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet might be sage advice, but poverty stricken parents across the land are falling foul of it.
I don’t mean parents borrow so much money to spend on raising children that they spiral into debt – although I’m sure that’s true in some cases.
I’m actually talking about mums and dads who pilfer their little one’s piggy bank when they run short of a bit of cash.
I hold my hands up. I’m one of these embezzlers, although I must add I purely help myself to DIY loans rather than out and out theft.
It seems I am not alone as research has revealed that half of all parents borrow cash from their kids – and 19 per cent of them blame it on the expense of raising them.
Of those that borrowed cash, a huge 81 per cent confessed they hadn’t paid it back.
When asked why, around 39 per cent claimed to have forgotten, while 16 per cent said their child didn’t expect the money to be returned.
Before you start labelling me as a bad mother, I’ll just point out my borrowing isn’t to fund my wine habit or buy extra treats for myself.
It stems from the modern day problem of never having actual cash or change, as I’m too used to handing over my credit card to pay for things.
The fatal flaw of paying with plastic is when it comes to needing real money, you never seem to have any.
I rob – sorry, I mean borrow – from my kids when I realise I’ve not got money for the brew machine at work. The sooner that machine starts accepting Switch the better.
I also ‘borrow’ from the children when they need money themselves and spring it on you out of the blue.
I’m talking about when they suddenly announce in the morning before school: “Mummy, I need £1 for Wear What You Want Day” or “I need £2 for Comic Relief Day”.
At short notice and with no money in your purse, you have no option but to raid the piggy.
However, I always make sure I pay off my debts to my children and return any cash soon as I can – well I get Hubby to reimburse them anyway.
Luckily, my children are very good-natured about lending cash to their last-minute mum and whenever I say: “Can I borrow a couple of pounds?” they obediently trot off and get their money boxes.
I am always quite happy to lend to my children as well as borrow off them. When we are out shopping and they spy something they want to spend their pocket money on, I buy it for them and tell them they can pay me back later.
Usually, I forget, but they are honest enough to remind me… although my daughter does make me chuckle with her financial acumen as when me or Hubby say something like: “You owe us “£2”, she’ll quickly reply: “No I don’t. It cost £1.99. You have to give me 1p change.”
She’s not as canny as some children though. One friend made me laugh after telling me about her four-year-old daughter’s negotiation skills.
Daughter: “I’m not wearing that skirt.”
Mother: “Errr, yes you are.”
Daughter: “I’ll wear it if you give me £50.”
Mother: “Emmm. NO!”
Daughter: “How much will you give me then?”
Mother: “I’ll give you 5p.”
Daughter: “OK then. Thanks.”
Pocket money has certainly been good for teaching our duo the value of money. In our son’s case, it has definitely revealed his stingy side.
Beforehand, when our children went to something like a school disco or school cinema, we gave them money to spend on sweets and snacks.
However, we decided that’s what pocket money is for and since then, Cameron and Yasmin take their own spending money to things like that.
More than cash can be borrowed, and I certainly didn’t envisage sharing clothes with my daughter already.
I use the term “sharing” quite loosely as it’s definitely a one-way street at the moment.
Although Yasmin is only nine, she is tall and towers over most children her age.
Being a shortie myself, she is almost as tall as me and I reckon in another year or two, she will be looking down on me. She is already the same shoe size – 4 – and has “borrowed” some of my shoes.
Having outgrown the only shoes she owns with a little heel (as if she needs extra height), she came into my room when she had got dressed up for an occasion and asked if I had any shoes she could wear as trainers or school shoes didn’t look right.
I offered her a pair of shoes with a much smaller heel than I usually wear. Haven’t seen them since.
She has acquired various dresses and cardigans of mine and made them part of her own wardrobe, and also has her beady eye on a number of other items. I recently wore an outfit and put a fluffy feather shrug on top.
Lovingly stroking the soft feathers, Yasmin said: “I like this Mummy. Can I have it when it’s too small for you?”