Allowance & Budget for Teens
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Allowance for College Students
Hi - Our daughter is heading off to college in Pennsylvania this fall, and we'd like to ask what kind of ''allowance'' (for total lack of a better word) to give her each month for her personal expenses. Her food plan will fully cover her meals and she'll be living in a dorm; she'll certainly need cold-weather clothes and the usual personal items. She'll be living on campus near a town without a huge amount going on - a train ride from Philly/NYC but not visiting either very often. We're paying the big bucks for private school and while I don't expect her to work right away, I do expect her to manage the money that we give her very thougthfully (and at home she is a good money manager). But what amount should that be? What should we pay for and what expenses should she be expected to cover with her own previous earnings/savings? And logistically, should we just put money into her ATM account at the start of the month and let her take it from there? Thanks for your feedback!
Our children were always told that we would pay for all college costs including food, books, etc. but that their personal spending was their responsibility. Therefore both children worked summers, at times taken part time jobs at school to add to their spending money but we felt strongly that they were getting their college fully paid, would graduate without loans and that they needed to at least contribute in this area.
When they have moved from dorms to apts near school we gave them a monthly food allowance and they could choose to use it for groceries or meals out but that was their choice on how they chose to budget. We also pay the cell phone bills. Our kids had both ATM cards for their own accts that we would deposit their monthly funds and then they paid the bills, etc. They also had a credit card on our acct that they would use for approved purchases only, such as buying books, etc. This was never abused although they would occasionally ask to use for a personal purchase and then reimburse us, always approved in advance.
Our kids have also done study abroad, we paid for this in full as well and also gave them some funds toward travel in the country but again, they needed to plan, work and save for their personal funds and to do anything beyond what we gave them. For our child who went east, we also covered reasonable additional winter clothing (but wait till they are there to buy - what California sells won't be nearly warm enough and cost more and then you have to ship it back). almost done!
My daughter is going to a small Pennsylvania college in a small town near Philadelphia too! I do have some thoughts about how to get her set up for her first winter ever without giving her a blank check. Would love to follow up with you off-line. nfa
Besides tuition, fees, books, room and board, what other expenses will we run into for a student going away to college and how much should we budget? And I assume most students work part-time while in school to help pay some of those expenses. Anon
College expenses vary a lot from school to school and student to student. For example, some schools charge a co-pay for every visit to the student health center and at other schools it's built into the yearly fee. At some schools students pay for the use of the laundry facilities and at others it's part of the housing cost. This kind of question is a great one to post on the CollegeConfidential.com forum for your child's college, where current parents and students might be able to give you advice specific to that school.
Beyond that, it depends on what your child likes to do for extracurricular activities and how much of that will be free, or included in tuition/housing costs--food, entertainment, exercise, transportation. Personally, I think it's a lot to expect a freshman to work during their first school year, while they're still trying to adjust. It's better to have them try to earn extra spending money during the summer. Mom of 2 college kids
Have child entering UCSC in the fall. Since UC prefers interfacing with the student, rather than the parent, is it better to give my son a set amount from which he can use to pay for UC expenses (not including tuition) and other living expenses? We are a middle class family on a budget. How much is reasonable, perhaps $300 into his checking account? Newbie college parent
Well, this is what we are doing (daughter also attending UCSC!), and I'll be curious to see what others have done. She will have to two accounts, one for living expenses and one for tuition (books and other school related expenses). I was going to start by giving her $150 a month and she will have to get by on that, if it's not enough, then we will figure out what she's spending money on and how much more she needs. Food is covered with the meal plane and I can't imagine that there will be that much to spend money on besides soap, laundry, and the occasional movie or concert. Clothes: she can wear the ones she has or shop at the thrift store, there's a good one in SC. on a tight budget
My son goes to UCBS. The first year he lived in the dorms. We told him we would pay his cell phone, room & board, books & tuition. In practice we've also paid some of his expenses travelling between school & home. The rest (clothes, entertainment, extra food) was his problem. After a couple quarters of ''living poor'' he found a parttime job on campus and opened a checking account.
Next fall he'll live off campus. They only have one year leases in Isla Vista, and parents must co-sign; fortunately we only had to co- sign for his rent, not the entire house. We're paying $600/mo rent for his shared room, plus his share of utilities, and giving him $500/month for food. He's hoping to organize coop food buying and cooking with his roommates. We'll be depositing money in his checking account up here. It's up to him to make it work. College Parent on Austerity Budget
I have 2 questions:
1. What is an appropriate monthly allowance amount for a HIGH SCHOOL senior (girl); enough to pay for everything -- meals out, entertainment, yearbook, gifts for friends, prom, clothing, etc.?
2. What is an appropriate monthly allowance amount for a COLLEGE STUDENT (boy) in Los Angeles; enough to pay for everything EXCEPT school costs (we pay for tuition, fees, room & board, books, flights home. He does not have a car) Anonymous
Thhinking about allowance for highschool seniors and college students. In some ways the answer depends on your own family finances. You cannot give them more than you can afford, but need to balance that with a reasonable figure. So here is what we did.
For the high school senior, we gave our daughters $100 a month beginning their freshman year. We knew it wasn't much. They had to budget for everything. We paid for shoes and coats as well as first of year school supplies. They learned to budget, not to lend money to unreliable people and set priorities. If I was to do it again, I think I'd add another 25 to 50, but no more. We didn't ask the kids to work in school, they were busy enough with school and organized activities. If they had asked for more money however, ''get a job'' would have been our reply.
As for the freshman, we also paid for everything and gave her $200 a month for spending money. That was all we could afford, and in retrospect another 100 wouldn't have hurt her. But... She became a killer ''budgeter'' and learned to set priorities. I didn't always agree with her priorities, but she was at least clear on the coxt/benefit of each decision. She did get a job after freshman year because she did want more money. That was another important lesson.
Bottom line, give them what you can, many kids have no money, but don't be so generous that they do not learn to set priorities and budget. Those are important life lessons that you need them to know before they graduate. Ck
We are preparing our budget for our daughter to go off to San Jose State in the fall. Beyond books, what have others put in for expenses for their freshman student.
Our college freshman gets $100/month spending money and we also provide $75/month for his cell phone (he's in Canada, so it's a little more pricey). This seems reasonable, since all other expenses are covered. The only thing he has to pay for are personal items and laundry. He's been informed that the hand-out stops at the end of this academic year. I hope against all evidence that this will motivate him to work this summer and/or next year at college.
I also hope to have him take out a student loan so that he feels some investment in his college education. Having never filled out the FAFSA, I don't know whether he will qualify, but I think it's a good experience for a college kid to be responsible for at least a small portion of his college expenses.
Mom of college freshman
Our son is in his Freshman year at Humboldt. For this year we have paid for tuition & fees, dorm and meals at the cafeteria (a plan), books, phone (cheap land line in his room), plus $100 per month for allowance for him to spend as he needs/wants on necessities, clothes, outings, etc... If he wants/needs to spend more than that it comes from his savings or he needs to get a job (hasn't so far). He does not have his license yet so paying nothing for car/gas/insurance.
I personally would like to have him contributing a little, but my husband and I have agreed on this for this year (my husband likes to cover more than I do). We have said that gradually our son will need to start contributing to his own education, but have not come up with dollar amounts yet. Also, when a friend gives him a ride back home to Berkeley we give him $ to pay the friend for gas plus a little.
Hope this helps, and good luck.
mom of college student
My daughter will attend college in New York City this fall and we're already wrangling over money issues. She has no savings but is expected to get a job this summer to supplement whatever we decided to contribute (she's already pushing to increase our share). The big question for me is: What's the best way/best tools to use to protect against over-spending while giving the student financial independence and responsibility?
I have several specific questions on this topic and welcome any general advice/comments:
1) Do/did you give your college freshman an allowance for discretionary spending? If so, how much and how did you arrive at an amount?
2) Does your student use a credit card? Debit card? VISA Bux (or whatever it's called) card?
3) What's worked and what hasn't?
Thanks! A Mom
Our son is completing his freshman year. We told him last year that we would pay his tuition, housing (dorm +meal plan), his books and supplies and his cell phone. He had to supply all his spending money. He didn't work his senior year but was expected to work over the summer. He made enough money over the summer (plus he received almost $700 in gift money)and had he budgeted he could have made it last all year, but despite his having a plan and generally always following a budget in the past, he went through it all by winter break. He went a bit wild, spent most of it shopping. We stayed clear, we were not going to give him money. He had no money and was home a month over Winter break, we did front him his tax return, he went back second semester and got a job on campus which not only pays him but he can study while working and he will do it again next year. . The same will hold true for next year, although he will be sharing an apt. He will get roughly the same amount as we paid for the dorm, he will need to use it for rent, utilities and it will leave him about $300/month for food. I feel strongly that if we pay all his school expenses, he should be able to cover his spending money. I will buy things he needs, but not another pair of shoes or another shirt when its not needed. (That's also not to say that when he has come home, I've been known to slip him movie money or give him a bit when he leaves). New York is also an expensive city, I don't know what her living arrangements will be, etc. You may need to give her an allowance or pay for a monthly transit card, determine a set amount for certain things. Good luck. another parent
I asked a similar question about college student allowances here last fall and didn't get much response, so good luck. For our freshman son living on campus, we've given him $100 a month; he thinks it's way too little, but we give him lots of opportunities to earn money when he's home. He uses a debit card that we replenish at the beginning of each month. We reimburse his textbook expenses and some other items that seem pretty important. We buy most of his clothes. He's still paying $40 a month for a cell phone that we think is unnecessary and don't want to subsidize. anonymous
My daughter is finishing her freshman year at UC Davis (a far cry from NYC) so I don't know how helpful this will be. We are a work in progress but I'll share our experience.
I transfer $150 a month into an account we share. She transfers money from it to hers (so I don't see her detail activity.) (I use Wells Fargo. You might look into Citibank.) $150 for her seems to be just under enough but she makes it work and scrimps at the end of the month. She HAS learned how much a coffee or a Jamba juice costs, and doesn't buy those luxuries very often! She spends most of it on costs related to her club sports team. She does give some away - I know she gave some to support the AIDS walk and some to tsunami relief. She has bought very few articles of clothing and is much more sale conscious than she ever was when I was paying.
She has a debit card only. No credit card yet. (My son, a senior at UCSC still only uses a Visa debit card.) They both understand the concept of a debit card and watch carefully so that they don't overspend. Both have checking accounts that link to these debit cards. (Actually, I take that back. They both have an American Express card - my husband's account - that they can use with his permission in case of an emergency.)
My husband was not very happy with the monthly $150 (my daughter and I left him out of the discussion---I wish that we had all talked about it so you're ahead of the game there.) He felt it totally eliminated any incentive to work but it seems that isn't quite true (she jumped at the chance to earn some money last weekend by doing heavy yardwork for me and babysitting for a family she babysat for in high school.)
Good luck. I think we're all muddling through this process. Maybe someone who has it all figured out will write in and share with all of us! Sally
Because they were only two replies, I thought I'd add mine, for what it's worth. My husband and I have two kids who've now graduated, one from a UC last year, and one from an incredibly expensive private college in NY this year. They had different deals with us because the private school cost about $20K per year more than the UC. For the UC student, we paid tuition, room, board, books, transportation to and from home as often as he wanted, and cell phone. He is a thrifty person, which is great, but this also led to a problem that with us paying all of the basics, he had little or no incentive to work. So we told him we'd get him a car if he got a job, and he did. For the private college student, we paid tuition, room and board, and required her to be responsible for books, transportation to and from school, and all personal expenses. She also had to take out $3K in loans per year towards tuition. (Our expenses for her were still far more than for the UC Davis student.) No allowance, for sure, although I did make a point of giving her as many earning opportunities as I could. She worked 10 hours a week during school (in the library, so she could study) and more during vacations. She did a lot, including going abroad for her junior year, so it seemed to work out fine. It seems to me to be very important that kids learn independence and financial responsibility, and that part of the college experience is, frankly, being poor. I worked during college, except for freshman year, and the more hours I worked, the better grades I got. Having more time on my hands just made me waste more of it. anon
Some of our teens are starting college this fall. Most will still need help from their parents for living expenses. I'd like parents to comment anonymously on how much they think a college kid needs per month for expenses other than tuition, room and board, and books. Please specify whether or not this includes clothes or any other major category I haven't mentioned. thanks from an anonymous mom
Last year I gave my college freshman daughter $200 per month for expenses. She used the money for food outside the cafeteria, movies, clothes and supplies. This year, she is starting off with money she earned working full time during the summer, and I don't plan to give her any spending money until she has exhausted her own. mother of a college student
Thanks for bringing up this topic -- I didn't realize I needed the advice! When my kids are/were in high school, I switched to a monthly allowance of $150 for non-necessities, including clothes. It immediately stopped my son from being a clothes-horse, but my daughter works at finding ways to ''save'' her money and use mine. Now that one is in college, I'll continue the practice -- perhaps increasing it to $175. What do you think? Barbara
I have two kids in college - one lives at home and one lives out of state. The one who lives out of state has a Visa card for allowance and keeps it to about $150-200/month. This is for things like CDs, toiletries, socks, and the occasional meal out. Any big expenditures like clothes, a weekend trip, etc. get cleared with mom first. My child who lives at home gets $150/month which includes lunches, BART tickets, and minor entertainment expenses. Both kids have part-time seasonal jobs and end up stockpiling a little money. Mom
I'm having $150/mo put into my daughter's account and it's worked really well (probably because it's a large enough sum (for her) that she feels she can make it work, and a large enough sum (for me) that I'm clear that that's all I'm going to give her in a month.
Allowance for High School Students
I have a 15 year old son who is a sophmore at Berkeley High and I am interested in what kind of allowance other parents give their 15 year olds, especially boys. At present I am not giving him an allowance, just lunch money a once or twice each week,(he eats in the cafeteria on the other days), and a little bit of spending money on the weekends. But I feel that I should give him a set amount of money, so that he will learn to manage his own finances. I have another son who is in 6th grade, almost 12 yrs old, and he would like an allowance also, but we haven't come up with an amount yet. Do any parents require that their kids do a certain number of chores each week or day to earn their allowance? Any advice other parents want to share would be helpful. Berkeley mom
My two teenage girls (15 & 16) earn $25.00 each week by cleaning our entire house, save for my bedroom and bathroom. They are responsible for purchasing their own bus passes from this money, and if the chores are not done properly (within reason) they will get money deducted from their monthly total.
They are paid on the first of each month, and the money is transferred into their own bank accounts; my being co-signer on each one. They can then use their debit cards to access their money as they wish.
This system seems to be the only one that I have ever gotten to work, and the girls seem to enjoy it, and the fiscal education themselves. Andrew
You're right that having an allowance will help teach kids to manage their money. You have to be willing to let them make mistakes.
We gave our children weekly dollars equivalent to their age, although sometimes their allowance was allocated to other things-- one-third to savings, for instance. But then, we were willing to track it in a notebook. In high school, we decided to give one very responsible child a monthly allowance, equivalent to what we had been spending on her, from which she could buy her own clothes and presents for friends.
ABSOLUTELY require your kids to do chores! Apart from YOU needing them to learn to be good roommates, THEY need housekeeping skills. Anyone who goes away to college should know how to clean a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen; use the dishwasher and scrub pots; take out garbage, change a bed, do laundry; and shop for and cook at least one inexpensive meal like spaghetti. Younger kids can put away clean dishes and sweep the steps/patio/garage, and feed and exercise pets, water plants? You can think of other things. Our kids did more chores before high school, when homework and activities became consuming.
It's probably better not to tie the allowance directly to the chores, although it makes for a tempting consequence to withhold allowance if chores aren't completed. Better to teach a moral obligation to contribute to the family as they are able, and for them to understand that they get an allowance as a member of the family, according to the family's resources. Hang In There
My son is 14, a freshman in high school. He gets $20.00 a week which sounds like a lot but he can use it to buy lunch at school if he chooses and to buy gifts for his two sisters and me - he is very generous. If he wants a big ticket item he has to buy it for himself, such as expensive video games or an IPOD. kr
Hello. I have a 15 yr old and she can earn money by doing certain chores at home. I also give her $20/wk for clothes. I buy her jackets, shoes, bras. Otherwise I do not give her money except for $8 once a week for lunch. I have all the materials for lunches at home and she can make her own the rest of the time. She is finally learning to budget her money and has managed to save quite a bit and is proud of herself for doing so. Good luck, it's a difficult issue to decide. MaggieV
My kids are in college now, but when they were in junior high and high school, I gave them a weekly allowance equal to their age in dollars; so my 15-year-old got $15 a week. I also told them there would be all the ''fixings'' for school lunch in the house, so they could make their own (or cajole me to make it) and use their money for other things, or spend it on food at school, their choice. They took a ''cut in pay'' of a dollar or two a week to help defray the cost of cell phone text msg plan, and/or car insurance. We did also give them money for occasional special outings, and paid for clothes, within reason. So they definitely had enough to get by, but were also motivated to get part time jobs for a little extra cash. With my daughter, we set up a joint checking account at the Mechanics Bank where I had a personal savings account, and set up the weekly electronic $$ transfer so I didn't have to remember to have the cash on hand for allowances. Even though my name was on the acct with hers, it's really her account, and she used her ATM card quite comfortably to get cash or make purchases. Same setup is continuing to work well in college, so I can easily reimburse her for textbooks, etc, right from my computer.
We have a 17-yr old and have never given him an allowance. When he started high school, we took him over to Wells Fargo, where he opened a bank account, got a debit card, and started on his road to financial freedom. During the school year, we transfer weekly lunch money into his bank account at $6 per school day. He chooses to spend however much of that he wishes. He banks his earnings from his summer job and any other odd jobs (baby-sitting, yard work, etc.) he may get during the year. (He also has a savings account at our credit union.) As for chores around the house, we've never paid him for those, we just expect him to help out with setting the table for dinner, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, etc., which he's been agreeable to doing. Extra expenses such as clothes for a special occasion, transportation (bus passes, BART tickets, etc.) we take care of, but he generally wants to handle his own personal expenses and has always been within budget, no problems. The arrangement has worked well for us and for him. Anon
The amount of allowance depends on several factors: age, what you expect the allowance to pay for and, of course, what your income is. Prior to high school my daughter's allowance was for discretionary spending only and was given to her weekly. When my daughter reached high school I wanted her to have the experience of planning for nondiscretionary spending (i.e., clothes, haircuts) so her allowance was increased accordingly. She receives allowance twice a month and has an ATM card so she can access funds herself. Part of her allowance is automatically put into savings. Allowance has never been tied to chores. My view is chores are a part of being a member of the family. Tying chores to allowance can set you up for hearing, ''I'm not going to do my chores, I'll just skip my allowance.'' RJ
Allowance for 15-year-old girl - $15/week - supposed to cover any lunches she wants to buy during the week, movies, etc. Her allowance money is supplemented by baby-sitting money. We make her lunch whenever she wants it, usually 2x/week. 6th grade girl gets $5/week and she spends almost none of it. Allowance isn't tied to chores, but the girls are expected to handle dinner dishes on their own one time per week and keep their rooms somewhat tidy, as well as help with other household or gardening chores when asked. another mom
I give my teen $100 per month. She has to budget in bus/BART fares to and from school when necessary and eating out but not daily lunches---she packs her own. Carolyn
I want to ask people how they deal with their teens and the issue of spending money. I have a 14 year old girl who is very responsible, has many babysitting jobs, and trys to buy Old Navy or clothes on sale. However, as she gets older her desire for things (mainly clothes) and new experiences (movies, lunch at restaurants, bus and bart trips, skating) increases. With a flurry of post school activities she is coming to me daily saying Can I have money for ..... I grew up in a rural area where we biked, hung out on the town common, and bought clothes from the local used clothing store. She has a different reality--this is a city, there is so much more emphasis on material things, everyone around her seems to spend more. I'm uncomfortable just handing her $10's and $20's for this and that. I want her to work and pay for some of these things. She really resists. What do others do? Do you pay for movies, meals, all or some clothes. Do people still give an allowance at this age? If so (is this okay to ask?) how much? How much do we give them so they are taken care of, but not spoiled. I would appreciate hearing how others handle this. Anonymous
I also have a 14yr old who will be entering HS, here is what I plan to do, and again this has to be tested, I will give her $30 a week to cover bus and lunch, however if she bags a lunch from home or sets up a carpool, it's money in her pocket for movies, ice skating etc...she also has pet-sitting jobs to supplement her income.
I don't like giving an allowance. I prefer to have more control over the money and provide it for a choosen outfit or activity. As for how much to give her, I would sit down with her and list all she wants and, separately, all she needs. Compare the two amounts. See what you can work out that both of you agree with.
You have my sympathy. I too got tired of my teen coming to me all the time for money. I started giving me $100/month allowance, which was to cover clothes (although occasionally I cheated and paid for a piece of clothing), all entertainment expenses, etc. The system worked very well. I kept my month shut about how the money was spent. When she complained about needing clothes, I told her she had money and time. If she wanted to buy CD's instead, so be it. Fortunately at Berkeley High, particular clothes worn don't seem to be a major issue. Naturally I paid for school expenses, although I decided that the yearbook was an allowance expense. Best wishes. and P.S. they do learn to budget.
I found the book Money Doesn't Grow on Trees to be helpful. In the book, the author suggests $1/year of age (or half that if financially it is more appropriate) This offers money for savings, tithing/donation, spending money. Beyond their work for pay jobs that comprise the allowance, they can earn extra money depending on what my needs are (for example, washing the car). For both of my sons it has worked for me to be clear, honest and consistent and they have stepped up to being very responsible. They have also commented on how they appreciate my placing the responsibility on them. MaryAnn
For my two teens at Berkeley High, I got out of the 'human ATM' role by opening a checking account for each of them. I fund the account at the beginning of the month with a set amount ($150), and it is their responsibility to budget and make it last. The accounts have ATM cards so they can get cash or pay for things via EFT. If they run out of money, they have to bring lunch, walk, skip movies, etc. I am a co-owner of the accounts so I can go online and see where they're spending their money, transfer funds, etc. This is also extremely handy for my daughter's clothes shopping trips, where she'd rather go with her friends than with me, but I worry about her carrying a lot of cash. She pays with the ATM, and I transfer funds to cover her purchases. Lisa
From: WR (7/99)
Some thoughts on allowance: Some parents give their kids a lot of money and that must be used for clothing, bus passes, lunch, movies, CD's, etc. My kids were never into stuff so allowance has always been more a pocket money issue. In season, they also worked as soccer referees which paid $10-15 per game. One did some babysitting as well. In my mind the purpose of allowance is to teach the value of money, bugeting, how to save for a big item, how to deal with financial mistakes and how to avoid weekly bankruptcy. So any allowance plan that keeps this sort of thing in mind is a good one. I never wanted to link chores to allowance- I think chores are a necessary part of family/community life and are non-negotiable. No one pays me to cook and they shouldn't be paid to empty the dishwasher, unload groceries or take out the trash. So allowance was a perk that increased with age. My 9th grader got $8 a week and will get $10 this year. If he needs more he can babysit or ref more. If he adds a girlfriend this year I suspect he might come and negotiate for a raise! My college age child actually doesn't get any money from us at this point beyond clothes and school expenses: books, room and board, tuition and plane tickets to and from school. He has an on campus job that pays well and covers his pizza and pinball habit and anything else he needs. Another thing to consider is what your child wants and why, beyond that's what my friends get. -WR
I think no allowance is best. I only give my kids money if I feel okay about what they want to buy. If they want to choose what to spend money on, they have to earn it themselves. And about all of us who do housework for free. Maybe we should all go next door to do it. Then we could get a salary, social security and benefits.
Re: allowance. Our 13 year old son receives $35/month.(Our 11 year old $20/month). He must pay for all his independent social activities, yearbook, hanging out money, etc. About once a year he complains that other kids get more, but we say tough, other kids get less. We re-evaluate every year, based on growing independence and social requirements. Next year, when our son is in high school we will decide together how much extra he will need for bus money, lunches, school functions etc.
We do not attach any responsibilities to allowance because we decided that we wanted allowance to be about learning financial management. He began to receive allowance at age 4, with the requirement that 1/2 go into long term savings (at that age, for something that cost more than $10) and some go to charity. We no longer have these guidelines, because the habits have been learned.
This process has worked with both our children. They have savings accounts, they contribute to charities, and they seem to enjoy having money to spend on themselves. They have made the transition from a weekly allowance to a monthly allowance with no problem. We feel that they will make smooth transitions to checking accounts and charge cards by high school and will not be in credit card debt on their own in college.
We do not require that they buy clothing with their own money, but we set limits. If they want shoes, etc. that cost more than we feel is reasonable, they can pay the difference, choose something in our price range, or go without. When they ask us to buy them something we do not want to purchase, they know not to ask again if we say you can use your own money. Hope this helps.
My kids have always received as many dollars as their grade in school, so a 7th grader receives $7 per week. No chores attached. All funds are discretionary, so if she wants expensive sneakers, she can pay the difference. If she wants to buy lunch instead of taking it, that's her choice. Or buy candy, or save up for extra clothes. If I intended for her to buy lunch regularly, I'd add that to her allowance.
By the time my son was in high school, he drove me nuts asking for clothes, shoes, yearbooks, fancy pens, etc etc etc etc, so now I write him a check every month which he can put into a checking account and take care of his own needs and make the choices. This does include clothes, lunches, school supplies and haircuts. (Most of it is going to comic books and junk food, which is hard for me to accept, but at least he doesn't ask me for clothes. I figure this is how he'll learn.)
The 17-year-old presented an itemized proposal for a monthly allowance that includes lunch money, bus fare, and clothing including long-term purchases like shoes and jackets. We give him $130 on the first of every month to cover these expenses and he does a good job of managing his money. His allowance does not include money for movies, games, junk food, or other entertainment. He's expected to earn money for those doing heavier chores, and also gets money bonuses for A's and B's. The 15-year-old does not get allowance because repeated trials have shown that he spends whatever is in his pocket at once. So he gets money daily for lunch and transportation, and is given bigger chunks for (supervised) clothes shopping trips. He also is expected to earn money for entertainment. For both kids though, we pay for books, concerts, and music (including CDs we don't even like) because we think the arts are important.