Shocking number of parents admit to raiding their kids’ savings

Nearly half of parents admit to raiding their children’s piggy bank to cover costs such as parking, takeaways, taxis, school trips, paying the window cleaner, and for the tooth fairy, a survey has found.

According to research by Nationwide Building Society, some 46% of parents of children aged between four and 16 years old have taken money from their child’s savings. The average amount taken over the past year was £21.41, while one in 10 parents had taken £50 or more during that period.

The survey found that mums are more likely to raid their child’s savings than dads, but dads tend to swipe larger amounts.

The months after Christmas, when many families are getting their finances back on track, also appear to be the time when piggy bank raiders are most prolific.

The survey of 2,000 parents found those in Yorkshire and the Humber, north-east England and south-west England were the most likely to use children’s savings, while those in London, Wales and north-west England the least likely.

About 15% of piggy bank raiding parents said they used the cash to pay school lunch money, while the same proportion also use it to pay a bill; 11% used the money for school trips and 11% used it as loose change for parking. One in 12 took the money to tide themselves over as they were broke.

A further 12% used the cash for other purposes, including bus fares, hair cuts, petrol costs, takeaways, paying the window cleaner and for the tooth fairy.

The vast majority of parents (93%) said they put the money back afterwards – and only 39% of children noticed the money had disappeared.

Nearly a third of parents who took money said they had confessed to their child, while 23% sneaked the money back into their child’s piggy bank. One in seven added interest to the amount they had borrowed.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide’s head of savings and mortgage 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 10 parents 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.”