Parental piggy bank raiders

3 May 2016


  • Nearly half of parents have borrowed or ‘stolen’ their children’s pocket money
  • One in ten parents have taken £50 or more over the last 12 months
  • Paying school lunch money or a bill and for parking are some of the reasons for the ‘loan’
  • Two in five children notice the money has disappeared

Forget children owing the Bank of Mum and Dad, it’s actually parents who are in debt to their children as research shows nearly half of parents (46 per cent) have borrowed or ‘stolen’ their children’s pocket money. The poll also reveals that women are more likely to do it than men (at 51 per cent versus 35 per cent).

According to the new research1 from Nationwide Savings, over the last 12 months, the average amount taken by parents is £21.41 with one in ten (10 per cent) parents admitting to pilfering £50 or more.

Paying the school lunch money (15 per cent) or a bill (15 per cent) are top reasons for raiding the piggy bank, while school trips (11 per cent) and change for parking (11 per cent) also feature. Other reasons for borrowing money include: bus fares, paying the cleaner or the window cleaner, getting a haircut or filling up the car – and even to reward their child from the tooth fairy. Five per cent of parents have raided the piggy bank to pay for a takeaway.

Winter and Spring appear to be the most opportune seasons in which to snaffle money from youngsters, with three in five (60 per cent) parents taking money between January and April.

But children aren’t oblivious to this parental piggy bank raiding however, as around two in five (39 per cent) parents admit their children had noticed that money had gone missing.

The good news though is that 93 per cent of parents say they gave the money back and, of those, 14 per cent actually put back more money than they took to counter any guilt. Nearly a third (32 per cent) of parents confessed to taking the money, while nearly a quarter (23 per cent) returned the money stealthily.

Top three regions for parental piggy bank raiding:

  • Yorkshire & Humber (51 per cent)
  • North West (51 per cent)
  • South West (50 per cent)

Three regions where parental piggy bank raiding is least likely to occur:

  • London (43 per cent)
  • Wales (43 per cent)
  • North West (44 per cent)

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide’s Head of Savings Policy, said: “Despite being in charge of instilling a good approach to finance, almost half of parents have been caught in spring raids on their kid’s piggy bank stash. While liberating change for parking or to pay school lunch money could be viewed as excusable, one in ten parents actually borrowed more than £50 in the last year, including for paying bills.

“Although more than half of kids don’t even notice the money has gone, it is reassuring that the vast majority of parents, including me, pay the cash back, with one in seven paying back even more than they borrowed to ease their guilt. Based on these findings, perhaps there are even more reasons for parents to encourage their kids to start the savings habit.”

Notes to Editors

1The poll of 2,000 UK parents with children aged between 4 and 16 was carried out by online market researchers, OnePoll.com, and tool place between 13 and 21 April 2016.

Full details of all Nationwide’s children’s savings accounts can be found at: http://www.nationwide.co.uk/products/savings/our-savings-accounts/all-savings-accounts?grp=childrenssavings#tab:filterTab

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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