Parents who do not tie
allowances to work sometimes select a dollar amount tied to the
child's age or grade. For example, a 9-year-old or a ninth-grader
may receive $9 per week.
"This really simplifies things," reports
Vickie Clark, an extension agent in Blountville, Tenn. "We tried
different amounts, but we kept forgetting who was getting what."
Clark's family did not start allowances until after second grade;
before that her children didn't understand the concept of a regular
Although most parents we heard from recommended weekly payments
for young children, Kim Pond, in Worcester, Mass., uses a monthly
allowance for her teenage son. "Monthly works better because $5 or
$6 a week doesn't mean much and kids may spend that amount on
smaller purchases," she says. With a monthly allowance that
increased to $30 when he started high school, her son can buy a CD,
go out with friends or save for a couple of months for a more
expensive game. Robin Kuleck of Smethport, Pa., suggests payment
every two weeks for middle-schoolers so that kids learn to delay
Kuleck also had another recommendation. As high school students,
her children opened checking accounts and received ATM cards, but
they were required to balance their checking accounts before the
next allowance was paid.
Kids -- especially teenagers -- who have expensive taste in
clothing and entertainment can be taught to budget and make choices
with an allowance amount that is based on what parents can afford or
believe is reasonable. Brenda Janke, in Merrill, Wis., introduced
her daughter to a monthly clothing allowance at age 11. Like most
parents who reported this system, Janke still pays for shoes and
coats. "I think this has helped her learn to make better decisions
-- and that's essential for today's youth!" Janke says. "She has
learned to save some money for back-to-school shopping, waits for
sales, decides maybe she doesn't need a certain item -- and finds
personal freedom and responsibility in being able to select and
purchase her own clothing."
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As a variation on this, parents can establish a clothes budget
based on what Barbara O'Neill of Newton, N.J., calls "generic"
brands. Kids who want premium-priced clothes or shoes pay the
difference. "Then children can decide for themselves whether the
name brand is worth the difference," O'Neill says. A child who wants
lots of clothes or expensive clothes would then be limited in what
was spent on entertainment or other purchases, which Jeannine
Richlin of Dushore, Pa., calls a realistic situation: "Welcome to
the real world!"
When children ask for allowances to be increased, parents should
ask for a list of the expenses that are prompting the request,
suggests Evelyn DeLoatch, Burlington, N.C. "This will allow both
parents and child to discuss the difference between need and want."
[Republished with permission from Parenting Press News for
Parents, copyright 2005. For a free subscription, see