Teens and Allowances And/or Spending Money

Updated on June 01, 2015
R.P. asks from Studio City, CA
20 answers

We just started giving the kids recently a weekly allowance. They have to do chores and be on good behavior and to have had good grades. If bad behavior etc we deduct so much. We also give them spending money for a night out with friends. This recently started as they are now at that age where they want to do more with friends and they are not old enough for jobs. One will be 13 other will be 15.
Initially we had a plan to halve half put into savings but they only get 10, for 12 yr old and 15 yr old gets 20. not much to spend if we take half of that but we do need to teach them to save. Which they said they would do. Son asks dad if we can get them iTunes card. Husband says yes and I'm not on the same page. I feel their allowances should be put towards things like that, or do extra stuff around the house for extra monies etc. But right now they really do not have a lot if chores. They do basics shower, make bed , keep room tidy and do their own laundry that's just expected. The son takes out garbage once a week daughter sets table.

Opinions or what do u all do. We also buy them things if they are needed clothes etc. But where do we draw the line so we can teach them money needs to be saved for things (which they both said they would save part of it, but it seems they buy soda, food ,junk) I don't want to monitor every penny they spend because it's their money but when they start asking for other things that they could have saved up for vs buying a candy bar etc I'm torn.

What can I do next?

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answers from San Francisco on

I think allowance should be used for things like iTunes cards etc. Maybe increase the allowance if they don't have enough to buy ITunes cards. But make them use their own money, or they won't learn anything.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If my kids want iTunes cards they have three options: 1) buy it with their own allowance, 2) do odd jobs either at home or outside the home to earn money to buy it or 3) ask for it for their birthday or Christmas.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

We never did a specific allowance when daughter was growing up. We made sure she had funds needed for social occasions, etc that she had the option to save.

She's much like us as far as spending because it's what has been modeled all her life... Delayed gratification. She's a saver, like us.

Daughter is now 20, she moved into her (our) condo in 2013 as she started college. I put $125/week in her account and she buys all of her gas, food, entertainment and extras. She does still babysit often and gets $100 a night. Her internship is a great experience but pays zero so we subsidize that as well. She's been a 4.0 GPA for 3 of 4 semesters, in the Deans list and top 10% of all undergrads at her college (20,000+ undergrads). She missed 4.0 her 1st semester by getting a 3.895.

I believe in teaching financial responsibility at a young age.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

They need to get a certain amount of money, and spend it however they want, so they learn that when they waste it, they don't have it for other things. Buying them all the other things defeats the purpose of that lesson, because they can waste their hard-earned money and still get the extra things.

We always got a meager allowance for all of our chores as young kids. At that point, our parents were still buying us extra treats that came up and school clothes, etc. So we could buy candy and whatnot with allowance, and still get everything we needed. As we hit teen years (actually I started babysitting frequently at age 11) we were earning other money as well mowing lawns, increasing chores, babysitting, yard work for neighbors, I did one lady's housecleaning. And by age 15 I was bagging groceries at local grocery store, soon to be washing dishes in a restaurant which was eventually helping prep cooks, waiting tables. I had 3 jobs in high school. Grocery bagging, restaurant work, and babysitting.

As we earned our own money, our parents bought less. They would buy basic school clothes, but not extra trendy stuff. We had to pay for all leisure activities, albums (vinyl and tapes-woot, better choose wisely, not cheap!), etc. I also had to start putting aside for college freshman year of HS.

Of course they bought us presents and treats now and then, but that was the general system.

My kids know when they get phones they will have to pay for them.

In my opinion, iTunes card is the PERFECT luxury item for them to spend their own money on aside from occasional gifts at holidays etc. If they can't afford it, they need to work harder.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We didn't make them take half to put away. We did discuss things like budgeting and saving and other smart financial moves. When they were older teens, we showed them bills and talked to them about how taxes and credit work. There were some not fun nights when natural consequences kicked in: "Oh, you want money for the movies? How about you spend your own...you bought something already and are out? Tough to be you." Or "You broke your friend's iPod? Well, guess you'll be breaking that piggy bank and/or doing extra work to earn another one, won't you?"

It was more effective for us to give them a goal to save FOR. Like if they wanted a cool new thing and needed to wait 3 weeks to get the money. We did loans for Christmas when they were young (like 11/12) but insisted on every penny paid back to teach them about borrowing.

Some people also give their kids money and say "from this you need x outfits for back to school" and see how the kids spend it. My SD was given a budget by her mom and had to decide if those cute shoes were worth not having enough for something else.

And when my SS was late for school and missed the bus - we charged him $10 for us to take him in, because it messed up our mornings.

My DH was always more about you do chores because you should and allowance is different. But as the kids got older, more was expected, with fewer reminders. So not just the trash out, but down to the curb and bring the cans back weekly. Not just feed the cat but scoop the litter, too.

If we were in the store and I didn't want to buy x food item, they often had the option of buying it themselves. Funny how often they didn't buy it....

My SD was a spend it all right now kid for a long time. We let her run out and face the consequences, even if it wasn't a sound financial decision. Later she learned about things like overdraft charges and how Ramen was not a sound diet.

We stopped allowance when they got their first real job and/or graduated HS.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My kids each get $20 per month. That's what we can do right now and they have the responsibility to manage their funds. They also have the same level of chores, so when that changes maybe the allowance levels will change as well.

We buy them things like iTunes cards for most holidays, so they don't need those things otherwise. They use their allowance if they want a toy/book/movie/whatever at Target, or if I am buying soda and popcorn at the movies and they want candy or nachos. Basically, they use their allowance to spoil themselves. Not one of my kids likes to see their savings account go down, so they rarely buy themselves anything.

Based on how you have it set up, I would think they could buy their own iTunes cards/ They are getting more than enough $ per week to save a little and do that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My kids always helped around the house, and we never paid for it.

I also don't take them shopping often. They get gifts for birthdays, etc.

Now that they are old enough, they babysit our younger ones. We pay them for that.

They also get paid for mowing the lawn, shoveling the drive, gardening stuff that I can't do, hauling wood, etc.

If they clean our van (disgusting) they get paid.

We give iTunes cards etc. for birthdays and in stockings and such. They also get that kind of thing from friends as gifts at birthdays, so we haven't run into that very much yet.

Now for my oldest, he has a cell phone - so his mowing, babysitting, etc. goes towards that. We just keep a tally (roughly) and it pays for itself. He was expected to do a lot more when he got his phone. So it's like working.

I don't consider cleaning rooms, laying table, etc. work - because it's helping out at home - so we don't pay for that. I'd like them to be the kind of kids who just pitch in wherever they are if someone needs help - without being told or being paid for it. I think it should be because you're eating, so get the knives out .. that kind of thing.

When they are old enough (starting soon) we hope they will do odd jobs around the neighborhood - shoveling, raking that kind of thing. Once they get real jobs (paying regular shifts) then 1/2 their pay will go to savings for college, and the other half is for fun. Whatever they want. Or phone.

Babysitting has been a great thing for us - because we are getting out a lot more often, and it teaches them responsibility. We expect them to play board games, do crafts (play dough, etc.) just as if they were babysitting elsewhere. It can't be let's all sit and play Minecraft. We keep tabs. Otherwise they don't get paid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My son got a job at 15 because he chose to not be in a sport. He paid half his car insurance at 16 and we gave him so much a month towards his gas because he drove his sister around to help me out. We paid extra curricular activities and basic clothes. He paid for the special or expensive clothing or hunting gear and licenses. My son now is pretty good with his budget. He plans ahead with his truck and insurance and other living expenses. He has very little in savings, but a lot of really cool stuff.

My daughter got a job at 16. She was getting a monthly allowance toward youth group activities, but chose to put that towards her car insurance instead. We pay for her extra curricular activities and some clothing. She pays for her social life, gas and most of her clothes. She has a fair amount of money in savings.

I think its important for them to have some responsibilities financially so they learn to budget and prioritize. If you monitor every penny, they'll never learn to budget for themselves.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

In our house, allowance was not tied to chores. Chores were mandatory, from preschool age. My kids don't get paid to do work around the house, except big extra jobs.

I gave/give allowance as spending money, not for saving or donating to charity or anything like that. And as teens, the allowance is the spending money, they don't get more money if they want to go to the movies or the water park or whatever with friends. They needed to learn to budget their money so that when an invitation like this came up, they could afford to go.

My youngest is turning 16 this month and will be working for 8 weeks at Scout camp. He knows that his earnings will be divided into three - 1/3 for him to spend as he wants, 1/3 into saving for college, 1/3 into saving for a car.

Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

My kids are younger than yours, but we give them a weekly allowance equal to their ages. This is their money and it is not given in exchange for chores. Cleaning up after yourself and helping with the household chores are a part of life in our family, they are not paid work. Neither do we attach allowance to behavior or grades, again, these are simply expected. If our kids misbehave, perform poorly at school or refuse to complete their chores, we deal with these things without taking away allowance. We give allowance to teach our kids about money--spending, saving, charitable giving and budgeting, if we take away their money we are also taking away the chance for them to learn these things. They might lose privileges but not allowance.

We give allowance on Fridays and the kids divide it between 3 jars, one each for spending, saving and giving. We don't have hard and fast rules about how much goes into each, but we talk about how they want to divide their money and why and offer guidance. Right now, my older son is putting a significant amount in his giving can because his friend is collecting donations for the humane society this weekend and he has been saving to contribute, other times he allots a smaller percentage to this jar. He also wants to buy a WiiU, and he knows that he has to save the money himself if he wants one. He is willing to forgo the little treats his brother buys with his money because he is saving for this goal.

Overall, I think it makes sense to give your kids a bit of latitude here. Let them spend on candy and soda and then let them feel the disappointment of not having money for the bigger things they want because they have squandered it. This is how they learn. Don't be torn, be firm about how much money they get and let them figure most of the details out. I really recommend the book The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber. It talks about all this stuff and offers some really good suggestions for how to teach kids about finances.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My allowance was equal to my age. For example, when I was 15 I got $15 for the month. Half went into savings and the other half was mine to use how I wanted. Yep, $7.50 for the entire month. Plus any babysitting money or the few dollars I owned running errands for an elderly lady down the street. I didn't have to do anything special to earn my allowance. I was just expected to help with whatever I was asked to help with (laundry, dinner, dusting, etc.).

My parents paid for clothing and school things. They would also give me some money for a rare night out. But with no movie theater or food places open very late in our little town it was usually a high school sporting event or movies at someone's house. I usually saved up my money and spent it at the bookstore when we went to the "city." I was a huge nerd! Although one time I spent my entire allowance on Reeses peanut butter cups.

When I wanted to buy a boombox, I didn't want to wait to save up the $100+. My dad loaned me the money, but charged me interest. Every month I had to pay him a set amount plus interest. I think he charged me 10%. It was a great financial lesson for me as a middle school kid.

As a bonus, the money I had saved (once I started life guarding half of my check also went into savings) paid for all my socializing my first year or two of college. Granted I wasn't a drinker so I didn't burn through $50 a night.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm sure there's a reasonable compromise here. it does make sense that things like Itunes cards should come out of allowances, but every now and then a treat's not the end of the world. and i do think it's fine to say 'sure, i could really use some help cleaning out the garage this weekend. dedicate sunday to being my stepnfetch and i'll get you a $20 card.'
i also agree that 'paying for' basic household chores doesn't send the right message. but there are always extra things to do to raise money. and an enterprising young person can get creative with it. my younger preferred to save christmas and birthday money and was very careful with his allowance. my older was more enterprising (and was and is less thrifty so maybe he just needs more<G>) and he was always scheming on how to make money. he had lemonade stands and made beautiful walking sticks and shoveled snow and mowed grass and baled hay.
they had their own savings accounts, and we did basic budgeting and teaching about compound interest and so forth. joint checking accounts with us from about 15 on until they were 18 and we came off them.
we didn't make them save half of their money, but in retrospect it wouldn't have been such an awful thing. we also didn't micromanage what they spent it on. blowing it on junk food or crappy toys and then being broke for the rest of the month was part of the learning curve.
you don't actually consider 'shower' part of their chores, though, do you?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There are lots of jobs your kids could do to make extra money. My kids pet sit for people in the neighborhood and will also do yard work.

And since summer vacation is coming, your kids could do more chores inside the house too. Teach them to mop floors and dust. They already wash their clothes, put them in charge of changing sheets and washing towels.

I agree with you about the Itunes card. That's something the kids can save up for. I don't agree about putting half their allowance into savings. Let them decide how and what to do with their allowance over the summer.

Natural consequence of spending all of their money on junk food is that they have to do extra chores to get extra money or they wait until they get their next allowance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

My daughter is 15 and son is 11. They each get an allowance equal to their age on the 15th and 30th. My daughter is huge into Starbucks with her friends. She was given gift cards for Christmas from a couple of people. She soon realized if she continued to drink $5 drinks she would deplete them quickly. She started drinking ice tea instead. 😉 I am proud of her recognizing how to stretch her funds. I buy her essential clothing. Anything over I will sometimes pay half. I want her to be able to live within her means. I don't pay for things if my kids "forgot" their money or if they don't have it saved up. They know if they want to earn extra money for something they can come to us and we will assign work for them to do. My daughter successfully raised over $400 to pay half of her summer camp and mission camp. My son will go for the first time this year. We paid for my daughter's first year and after that she's required to pay half. He will have the same requirement next summer.

I think it teaches them responsibility and my daughter was proud of her accomplishment (as she should be). In order for them to be able to manage their finances later, they have to gain experience now, while mistakes are cheap.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We never did an allowance. Doing chores is just what we do as a family. We are honored to own our home, so we all take care of it and the things we own inside.

Instead, our daughter saved what she was given in cash as gifts. She was allowed to spend that anyway she wanted to spend it. If she wanted to go to the movies or purchase clothing etc, we provided for that. Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes no.

She is a huge saver. We were honest when we just did not have money for things. We included her, when we were planning to make big purchases or saving for something. She also was aware if our spending at the grocery store, I taught her how to purchase clothing on sale. She knew how much our bills were..

And when she really wanted something, she was able to save for it. Grandparents would always ask her, "would you like something special, or are you saving for something?

She baby sat when old enough, she even tutored a few kids.
This was her money to spend or save, good or bad purchases, she learned from her own choices,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think they have enough chores for the family. Their chores are mainly dealing with hygiene (showers< which their peer group would take care of if they failed!), their private space, and their laundry (which is an awesome chore). I think setting the table every day is okay, but the garbage once a week is nothing. You should add one chore for the public/family areas: load and unload dishwasher, help prepare dinner, vacuum the family room, etc. I think They should alternate at cleaning a bathroom, once per week.

Savings: how do you handle that? Do you tell them to save half, or do you put half right in a savings account? If the former, you have to follow up. If the latter, they aren't learning to do it themselves. We used a 30/30/30/10 system: 30% went into a bank savings account (to be used for college or a car - something major we had to approve), 30% our son was supposed to save up for big stuff that he wanted (toys, etc.) but it was his discretionary money, 30% was for immediate spending like soda, and 10% was for charity (of his choice, although we discussed as a family and we all contributed in some way. We all put money into a charity box on Friday nights.)

I think you SHOULD monitor the savings account. They have to show you the passbook - and if you are taking them to the bank periodically, you'll know anyway. The stuff they want but don't have money for because it went for junk? Not your problem. Your answer when they ask for stuff is, "How unfortunate for you. If you spend for immediate gratification, you have nothing left." Stop being torn. You can help them monitor it - start with giving them a place to keep it such as a bank in their rooms. But if they put it in a wallet and spend it every time, they have to learn there is no option - you are not a limitless ATM.

We bought necessary clothes (including running shoes), paid school activity/event fees, and paid a basic cell phone bill. We did not buy garbage or every piece of clothing he just wanted for no reason, especially if it was some big store brand that was all about the "name". That's what the extra money was for in the second 30% ("save for something big that you want"). If he wanted to earn even more money, then he could do extra chores.

And your kids are perfectly able to get some jobs in the neighborhood - mother's helper (especially with the summer coming), dog walking, watering flowers, taking in mail and putting out trash for vacationing neighbors, raking leaves, doing yard clean-up, and so on. You can help them make up flyers to put in neighbors' mailboxes but they have to do the work. My son had a real "business" from age 10 on, doing lawn and pet care - and it was an amazing thing to put on his college applications because it showed consistent effort over the years.

So where we drew the line was in essentials (including reasonable school activities we thought were important (sports fees, dances, field trips), a sensible cell phone (not essential but very helpful to US, and with limited and supervised texting), and (later) car insurance (my mother gave him her used car, with our blessing). He got an allowance for doing sensible chores, with the number and complexity increasing as he got older. That allowance HAD to be divided 30/30/30/10 as above. If it wasn't, it stopped or was drastically reduced. But you have to stand tough on things that kids think are essential (because "all the other kids have them") but which really are not. Otherwise, I promise you, they will NEVER learn. It's really okay for kids to "do without" and to learn to work for something. If you give in to the whining, you handicap them for life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

They aren't self supporting adults. If you'd have probably gotten it for him anyway then it shouldn't come out of their allowance. BTW, allowance is spending money that has no regulations what so ever. They should be able to buy bubble gum with the whole amount and not have to be accountable at all. It's blow money.

As for saving part of it you are basically saying "hey, I'm putting money in your savings account in the amount of $X.xx each week and your true allowance is only $X.xx per week".

So you're not really giving them an allowance for the whole amount. You're teaching them about saving but it's not....I don't know how to put it, you're the one doing the saving and not them. They aren't getting enough to do anything with. If our kids got $7.50 per week they'd go straight to McDonald's and get a meal and be done. That's not much for working around the house.

It's a start, I understand that but think about what the end results are. They have a couple of bucks of spending money and now you want to regulate where that goes too. And you don't want to buy them normal things you might have purchased for them anyway...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have never believed in an "allowance" - paying my kids to help around the house or do chores. I don't get paid to make my bed, why should they :) We pay for what they need, and the occasional outing with friends, etc. If they want "extra" stuff, they have two choices - either convince one of us that they can do a job for us that merits pay (like cleaning the entire house or something big), or mow for a neighbor for money. Once they turn 16, they are required to get a "real job". The first month of the job, they are allowed to "blow" their money however they see fit. After that, 1/2 the money goes into their college savings account, the other 1/2 is theirs to spend BUT we also start expecting them to pay for more of their own stuff like outings with friends, etc.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I like the idea of savings.
We make our kids put all birthday/christmas/graduation money into saving.
Allowance is for things they want to do/buy. So if they want to do things with
friends...they have to pay for it w/their allowance (don't worry, I supplement).
If they want to buy a special toy, they use their allowance so they get the
work/pay aspect of life.
They get gifts for birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's day, Valentine's etc. so they
get fun things.
We make their chores light & commensurate w/their ages.
I do their laundry.
Taking out garbage/setting table/unloading dishwasher/keeping their rooms
clean is fine for expected chores.



answers from Las Vegas on

Regardless of what amount you give to them, I would have them save something, even IF just a dollar.. by year's end, that will amount to over 50 bucks... and with time, even more.. sometimes people think that saving has to be in big increments, but not everyone can or wants to do as such. Therefore, saving even just a little is a good idea.. In terms of the rest, well, when I received an allowance, gotta say, I also bought junk food and that was the only time in my youth that I ever really had any.. SO if your kids want to do that, I guess you could go along OR put a limit on how much junk they have in general... I do think at some point, if they want something special, you will have to stand your ground and suggest they save for it. When I was about age 8, I so badly wanted this little toy soldier radio... it costs 10 dollars, which in the 70s :) was a lot of loot.. BUT even without allowance, I saved and saved and finally.. I got to go to the store and buy it.. I FELT GREAT !!! once your kids can enjoy the value of saving , then you might get them to do it more often.. IF you keep giving into them,they won't.. In today's society, so often we want things NOW, layaway plans are gone and it's about credit.. It is their money, true.. BUT it won't hurt for them to stop using all of it for junk... regardless of the money, you could put a limit on the amount of sweets they can have. I do in our household... if you do that, then the allowance situation might be easier to handle..

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