44% of parents in Scotland face pester power in the lead-up to Christmas

11 December 2018

  • 44% of parents in Scotland say their children are more likely to pester them for money or to buy things in the lead up to the festive season
  • 38% say pester power regularly gets the better of them
  • 36% say giving in to pester power has caused them to overdraw or take on new lines of credit

As the UK prepares for the festive season, research from the Money Advice Service reveals that 44% of parents in Scotland1 say their children are more likely to pester them for money or to buy them things in the lead up to Christmas.

Pester power is the ability children have to convince their parents to buy something, by asking for something repeatedly2. Over a third (38%) say pester power regularly gets the better of them, and worryingly, 36% report that giving in to pester power has caused them to over-stretch their finances, meaning they’ve been overdrawn or taken on new lines of credit to pay for the extra expense.

Sarah Porretta, Director of Financial Capability at the Money Advice Service, commented:
“It can feel like there is a great deal of pressure to spend over Christmas, but it’s never worth putting yourself through stress and worry in the New Year or getting into debt you can’t manage.

“An effective way to manage your child’s expectations is to include them in the Christmas planning process. Our research shows that including children in the budgeting process teaches them the value of money, which helps resist pester power.

“And if you are worried about getting into debt over the festive season, don’t wait to seek out assistance. There are lots of free advice services across the UK to help you find advice in a way that’s best for you, which can be accessed via the Money Advice Service website.”

The Money Advice Service offers the following tips for families to reign in their spending this festive season:

1. It’s ok to say no
Remember that it’s perfectly okay to say no to your children when they ask for things. It’s important they know the difference between needs and wants. Just make sure you explain why – take this as an opportunity to teach them that we have money for certain items, but not always for sweets or toys.

2. Set a budget – then make a wishlist
When it comes to buying your children Christmas presents, set a budget you can afford. Then ask your children to make a wishlist based on items that fall within that budget - not only will this set their expectations, but it will also help them learn about the value of money.

3. Make a list before you go shopping
Involve your children in drawing up the Christmas shopping process. Giving them a little money and assigning responsibility for a small part of the Christmas shop can help them feel included and give them an important role to play come Christmas.

4. Get your children involved in the Christmas day planning
Task your children with helping you choose the food you’ll be serving on Christmas day by doing a taste test. Swap expensive food options for more affordable alternatives such as supermarket branded items. You would be surprised at how much money you can save – especially since you’ll often be unable to tell the difference in taste. Do a blind taste test with your kids and you might find you can swap to cheaper foods for the Christmas celebrations.

5. Seek advice if you’re worried about debt
The sooner you seek out debt advice, the better. Most people who have got debt advice have reported they they feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their life again. Our free debt advice locator tool on our website outlines services that are free, confidential and hold a standard accredited by the Money Advice Service.



1 In this research, 119 parents in Scotland with children aged 2-18 were surveyed via omnibus polling.
2 We defined pestering as occasions where a child has repeatedly asked for an item or money hoping that the parent says yes

Opinium conducted online research on behalf of the Money Advice Service from 25th to 31st October 2018. The research was among a sample of 4,003 nationally representative UK adults (aged 18+). The sample was boosted to 500 adults in Scotland from 25th October to 6th November. The sample was then cross broken for those that were parents of children aged 2-18 in Scotland, which totalled 119.

For media enquiries contact:
MAS press office on 0207 943 0593 or Press.Office@moneyadviceservice.org.uk

About the Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. It gives free, unbiased money guidance online at moneyadviceservice.org.uk or via free phone on 0800 138 7777. It also manages the delivery of Debt advice across the UK, which is provided through a variety of partners. The Service was set up by Government and is paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised through the Financial Conduct Authority. Its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding and knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system); and to enhance the ability of members of the public to manage their own financial affairs.