Allowance & Budget for Teens
Archived Q&A and Reviews
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.