16 Year Old Son and His Paycheck... Advice Please

Updated on November 06, 2010
S.R. asks from Mayport, PA
21 answers

Hey Mommas, my 16 year old son worked fulltime the past 2 summers and we took half of his paycheck and put it in his education fund, he was allowed to keep the rest for himself. Now that he is just starting a regular parttime job, 8-20 hours a week, depending on the time of year ( more hours in Dec and less the other months), what do you consider fair to put aside for education? He thinks he should keep most or all of it to spend. He pays for school lunches (many kids take a lunch and he could too), movies, and general spending money. We buy clothes and pay for any activities (band, spots etc). He has his learners permit and we will be driving and picking him from work, no expenses there either. I agree he needs spending money, but where do I draw the line. For example if he works 10 hours and makes $9 an hour, he will take home about $75-80. He will make $9.00 an hour which is a good income, suggestions please....

I love your thoughts so far, keep them coming. I don't pay for school lunches, about 50-60% of the kids in the junior and senior high schools bring their lunch from home on a regular basis. We have plenty of snack foods such as granola bars, cereal bars, pudding, cookies, yogurt etc that he can take for snacks and he can easily make a sandwich to go along with the snacks.He can take a lunch from home for $1-1.25, rather than the $5 to buy it. For those who don't agree with having him put HIS money into his education fund, how do you expect his education to be paid for. We have 3 children and at a cost of $8-10,000 a year, we have no intention of paying for college completely. My parents didn't pay for mine, I worked 2 jobs each summer and part time through the year to pay tuition etc.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for your opinions, we will likely continue to make him save half for college (he knows what he wants to do and where he wants to go). I would buy his lunch once or twice a week but he doesn't do anything around the house to help out. We have had this discussion several times with him. He also spent all his money on food, junk, and video games during summer jobs, so I don't feel sorry for him and not having money for lunches at this point. He has to learn that once he spends it, it is gone. I have a home daycare and a home business, so I don't spend money on lunches, coffee etc and my husband takes his lunch to work as well. He sees what we do, and we don't buy coffee etc when we are out. I will check out a dave ramsey book for kids, I have the adult one, and will have him read that (he loves to read). I hope he learns to manage his money and budget for what he wants, he is starting to get better.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I would let him keep his money. He worked hard for it, it's his. I also think you should work with him and teach him how to budget his money. You aren't teaching him anything if you take it and put it away for him.

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answers from Fort Wayne on

I don't think it's really fair to make him pay for his own lunches. Yes, he could pack, but aren't you spending the money either way? Maybe say that you will give him X amount of money a week or day for lunch. I like what the previous poser said about him saving half and matching it. That's an awesome idea! I really wish someone had taught me how to manage money when I was a teen. It's something that's taken me most of my adult life to get under control. As a result, I'm paying (literally) for my mistakes.

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answers from Austin on

When I was this age, my mom made me a deal..

For all of the money I saved, she would match it so I could purchase a car. I would then be responsible totally for the car.. gas, maintenance, insurance etc.. It worked out great for us.

She allowed me to keep the money, but did make suggestions that I continue to place half of it in savings.. I was glad she did because I had my own money to spend in college.

Remember he is in High school so things add a up. Yearbooks, class ring, the graduation announcements, Prom, Tux rentals.. Remind him he will want to make sure he is saving for this stuff.

I had a checking account and a savings account. I cannot recall the percentage once I purchased the car I saved, maybe 25 or 30% percent and the rest. I could spend in any way I chose..

Remember it is his earnings. He needs to learn to budget on his own, not just because his parent told him to.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think that he since he is the one who is working for the paycheck, then he should be able to use it how he wants.

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answers from New York on

i make my son cut it into 1/3 1/3 goes into education fund.. 1/3 into his bank account.. so he can buy something really nice when he needs it.. and other 1/3 is spending.. for movies, downloads of music, pick up a drink or snack after school.. i pay for his lunch and his clothes things like that.. he pays for things.. he already saved enough to buy a 400 bike and he is only 14.. he did this when he was 13... we donated 100 to the bike.. he wanted a good ipod again he saved .. and then he bought it.. i have a rule that his bank account has to have at least 50 after he buys things.. i tell him you never know when you will need this money.. he will be taking a class on stock soon with my husband.. and will start to invest with my husbands help.. so he can see his money grow..

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answers from Dallas on

My 15 yr old babysits and gets cash plus she gets money from us for working with our family business (nominal) but enough to sustain her.

We would never have her put HER money in her education fund. I realize we are much different minded that many people but we feel that we owe her the education fund as a parental obligation. We started the fund when she was born and right now she is fully funded and ready for college. College is not an option at our house either, it is in your brain. The option is which college do you want to go to.....which is any of them.

That said...it is very important for her to learn to manage her money. We are a very numbers oriented couple, no debt, and we believe in delayed gratification. She has grown up with this mind set of knowing to think before you spend, don't spend more than you have, and the importance of saving.

She buys most of her clothes, makeup, hair ( I pay 1/2 for salon trips). She is not responsible for paying for school lunches. We pay everything related to school.....ex: violin, private violin lessons, all cheer expenses which run around $2000+ a year, private cheer coaching, etc.

At 16 she will get keys to a very nice car. t that point, she will be expected to help pay for the added insurance and some of the gas.

She has a lot of optional spending money but she spends very wisely. She does not go to the movies as much anymore because??? "Mom, did you know it is $10 to get in and the food pricing is insane".

Good luck. They have to learn how to budget their money and when they are buying things with their money, they think twice about it.

I also strongly agree with matching the savings.

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answers from Dover on

I don't think he should have to pay for his lunches (maybe extras but not the lunch itself). Maybe he can save that money. During the school year, I would let him keep most of it. It isn't that much money.

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answers from Washington DC on

Get him a savings/checking acount. This is a good time to learn to budget his finanaces.
Ask him what kinds of things he would like.
Tell him to achieve these goals he needs to save so much.
Sit him down with Dave Ramseys's books and let him read through them.
At 16 my son had his whole paycheck to budget and did a great job. He now is 21 with an IRA in place and watches his pennies. He will have to fall and you cannot bail him out of this year's prom. Or the car he really really wants. This is how he learns. If he doesn't have enough because of foolish spending help him learn to reign in and budget cut but do not bail him out.
If his lunches are on him make sure you provide easy foods, granola bars, etc to take to school as he might have to go hungry for a week.

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answers from New York on

Two ways to look at this... it's "his money" and he needs to learn about budgeting while he's still under your roof and you're footing the bill for most things! On the other hand... he may not put any away without some parameters.

When we started working, my parents had a 50% rule... at least that percentage had to go into our savings account. That wasn't optional. Beyond that, we could do what we wanted with our funds. Having said that, my parents were clear on what they would pay for and what needed to come from our incomes. They were pretty liberal on that front (paid for our education, books, room & board when we went to college, etc), but we had to have $$$ for our non-school related activities and purchases. When our own money was gone for the week, it was gone.

IMO, he needs to learn how to manage his "fun money" while recognizing the need to think long-term. I would continue to require a good chunk be put away b/c you are still willing to pay for more of his activities. If he would rather be in charge of his finances, then consider pulling back on what you are willing to pay for and re-evaluate it in a set period of time!

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answers from St. Louis on

I do not think you should make him put money into an education fund. Instead, tell him that for each paycheck, he has the option of how much to save and how much to spend. (maybe set a limit like no less than $10 per paycheck). He earned it so in my opinion, he should be able to spend it!

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answers from Chicago on

Shelly stay with that attitude. Kids appreciate an education they pay for themselves way more than the one mom and dad pay for. I would stick with the putting half away regardless of how much he makes. My son worked full time from freshman year on to help pay for his tuition at a military prep school. when school rolled around he only worked part time. we gave him $10 a week for the cafeteria. any gas money etc he paid for and he paid for his own car insurance. When we got him a cell phone he paid the $10 extra month it cost us to have it (then also paid for the buku text messages he accrued lol) then asked if he could pay the $15 a month for unlimited texts. we said no and we paid for it as he wasn't using any minutes. but he will be way ahead of the game if he is already used to managing his money.

Wanted to add in that the thought of college for $8000 to $10,000 a year is a very modest estimate. My middle son attends northern illinois university a state school. his cost is about $12,000 a year and commutes. my older son attends carthage college in kenosha. that one is $40,000 a year when all said and done he does live there which adds on about ten thousand a year. but your right to have him looking ahead. and college is something we strive to send all of our children to. but college is a privilege not a right and it needs to be something that children work towards.

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answers from Amarillo on

Have him make up a budget and include savings. It is nice to have the check but if he spends it the way he wants he does not learn that there are times in life you have to save for what you want. Gone are the days of the instant gratification. If he continues to save he will have a nest egg that will allow him to get the bigger things he will be looking at down the pike.

With college coming up you can't have enough money. So welcome to adulthood. Once he finds out that x costs y he may think about it before he goes out and buys it on impulse. When he is broke, don't fund him. Let him learn what overspending is all about. Ramsey Davis is a good start as well.

He will thank you one day when he is a married man that you took the time to teach him financial planning and how it works. He won't be going blindly into the real world and having the consequences we are facing now.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi S.,
We require our children to tithe (10%), save (50%), and can spend the rest (with our approval on what they spend it on). So, they end up with only 40% of their income in their own pockets. The more they make, the more they get to save. That's a bonus! He might not see it today, but one day he will be so glad he didn't blow all his money on food! Mostly, they save most of that also, or use it to save up for something bigger that they want. We don't do "education" funds. We have a general savings account for each of them. It might be used for the education, but maybe not. Depends on what happens at that time. My first born did not go to college. He owns his own business. He used some of his savings to invest in training, books, etc (so it is education, but not college, per se). He is saving up to buy a house instead. He wants to be as debt free as possible when he gets married, and that includes the house as much as it can. I think you are so wise not to invest your household income to saving for a potential college education for your kids. They can work for it themselves if they want it.



answers from Dallas on

My kids are still little (7&8) so the money they earn is their allowance, but we still have rules. $1 to tithe (about 10%), $2 to save (about 20%) and the rest to spend - however tithe & save come out first so if they didn't earn their full allowance they might get $0 spending money. They also both have savings accounts. The rule for the savings account is that they can withdraw no more than 50% of the balance over their minimum required balance ($50) - so if they have $100 in the account they can only take out $25.

By the way, I see nothing wrong with having him save for his own college education. He's responsible for the grades & extracurriculars required to get in, why shouldn't he be responsible for part of the funding as well? That could be through scholarships, grants, loans, or savings - I think you are giving him a wonderful gift by making him save for college, he will graduate debt free! My parents paid my tuition, but I paid for everything else. I really wish they had made me put money aside from my high school jobs for college - I could have rushed a sorority, or gone to a more expensive school, or not had to live in the pit I lived in one semester. Once I started working in HS my parents stopped paying for anything non-school related except for car insurance. I bought my own clothes, entertainment, etc etc etc. Wish I had learned to save some of that, would have fostered good saving habits and made life a lot easier down the road.



answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey! that is my answer to all financial questions! But he seriously has great advice. For kids he suggests: spending, saving, giving- for every paycheck/allowance. Just have your son set aside a certain amount for each of the categories from each paycheck. It will help him learn how to handle his money and not blow it all on something he wants now so he doesn't have anything for later. It will be up to you guys to decide on how much goes into each category- but having him save for college is a great idea! He could get through completely debt free and not have to worry about student loans! What a great thing!
Good luck!



answers from York on

I don't think that one can be too careful in teaching our children the value of savings. Allowance money to just spend as they want is not teaching them to save--it is teaching them the joy of instant gratification. Then when they need money, they have become spendthrifts. They need to learn that it is so important to use money wisely instead of for candy and other things that disappear so quickly. When the parents are providing everything, why would they need so much for nonessentials? They should first of all learn to tithe, then put most of it away--with teaching, of course!--for clothes, or other necessary items when they are needed. As a child my husband was given money at the end of the week and the children could spend it as they desired. In our home we were taught to utilize every penny and it has paid off. If children learn to satisfy every whim when it comes, they will likely do the same as adults.



answers from Harrisburg on

Well, when you and the childs father made the decision to conceive your children, you were agreeing to care for that child. And college is part of that. Now I understand that many people can't afford to pay a full college education but making a 16yr old CHILD save for college is not right either. Yes, I agree that the child should be learning to SAVE money but then when he/she graduates highschool it is the childs decision what to do with the money. It is the childs money, he/she did work to earn that money. Half of the paycheck to a regular savings account is appropriate.



answers from Philadelphia on

The best thing you can do for your son is teach him how to save money & to spend less than he makes. I think you should continue to put away half of his money. There is no reason in the world that he can't survive on $35 - 40 per week at this point in his life. I think you also need to sit him down & discuss budgeting. I bet if you went over your expenses you would probably discover that your "fun" money is probably less than $100 dollars a week & that's for the whole family. (I don't count groceries as fun money. Money you use for movies, eating out, special clothes, etc.) If you divide that by 5, then you would have less personal fun money than your son! I bet he would be SHOCKED to find out how little fun money you actually have.
Saving money & budgeting are some of the most important life skills you can teach your child. And you have little time left. Soon he will be an adult, so its best to have him in good habits now.
Again, don't just make him save money. Explain to him why its so important. Explain to him the expense difference between buying lunch & bringing it. Explain to him about the power of choice. His choice between buying lunch or going to the movies that week.
I think you are doing a great job & should keep it up.
My parents also had 3 kids. They paid for part of each of our educations, but not all of it. I think this was a good thing. I got loans for the rest of it. In my personal experience, the kids who had to pay for part of their education, worked harder & had a greater respect for money than the kids who had everything paid for by their parents. Even if I had the money I would not pay for all of my kids education. I think they need to pay for part of it in order to value it.



answers from Philadelphia on

Just be very clear with him on what you will pay for, and help him understand that anything else is his responsibility. Educate him as much as you can about saving, etc. Of course what you will and won't pay for is up to you and your husband and should reflect your values.

Once I started working (age 15) my parents didn't pay for anything other than my car/car insurance. Lunches, clothes, etc. were on me. College was on me. I just knew pretty simply that I couldn't go to my parents and ask them for money. They wouldn't give me any. They also didn't say a word about how I spent my money. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, and wish it had been different... but I'm pretty sure I would have freaked out if they had told me how to spend my money.



answers from New York on

Since his paycheck will vary each week, how about he gets to keep $30 and every thing over $50 gets split. OR since we all need to live on a budget, agree on a set amount per week that he gets to keep $50 and anything over that gets put into the education fund.

I agree, he should help to pay for a portion of his college expenses.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Perhaps you could sit with him and discuss the situation some more...get him to really understand the financial need to plan (show him the numbers it is going to take to put three kids to college) and that if starts planning now, it will be a lot easier. Perhaps 1/4 of his part time check could be reserved?

I would definitely try to get his buy in though as it isn't fun to have to work and be forced to have your hard earned money taken away. A lot of teens don't even work so I admire that he is out there working so hard. I just would hate for his motivation at work to drop -which could happen as he isn't feeling empowered over the money he is making.

As far as the school lunches go, kids are funny about that. Perhaps at his age (and being a boy), it is not "cool" to bring a lunch...I have no idea really...that is just my guess.

Good luck..it will all work out :)

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