How to Work Out a Fair Allowance for your Children

How should you and your teenager work out a fair allowance? Comparisons with friends might be difficult, especially if some have parents who are far better or worse off than you. Probably the most effective way is for you to use your own spending as a guide. You, your partner and your teenager should set a period during which you all keep a strict record of every amount of money that is spent on that member of the family – on clothes, entertainments, hobbies and essential equipment for school or sports. At the end of a fair time – say, at least two months – you should all get together to list the amounts and the areas of expenditure. Divide these into obvious categories. For instance: Entertainment, such as entrance fees for discos or cinemas, videos, books, records or tapes, and some sports; Eating, such as snacks outside the home and some school meals; Essential clothes, such as school uniform, top coats and shoes and certain items such as sanitary protection; Non-essential clothes, such as the latest fashions; Interests, such as some sports and hobbies; School equipment, and some books; and Miscellaneous, such as birthday and Christmas presents, holiday money, etc.


The next stage is to decide which of these items will become the responsibility of the young person. It might be reasonable, for instance, to leave sanitary protection and some school equipment on the household budget if these are already being bought for several members of the family. Top of the list for handing over would be non-essential clothes and entertainment. These are the areas that cause most friction, because it is your offspring’s ability to make such choices of their own that becomes so important at this stage. However much you feel that they may waste their money or go against your tastes, it is in this area that you should force yourself to let go. Part of their wastrel behavior comes from a lack of responsibility. As long as they are convinced that you can and will cough up when asked, they will continue to throw aside objects with which they are bored, and demand more. They may even do this deliberately, using your money as a weapon against you, just as you might be using it as a means of controlling them. If they have a set sum with which to replace such items, they will soon learn to pace their spending more sensibly.

You should obviously assess the amount you spend and the areas your teenagers will take on board representatively. Some months, such as over the summer holidays, or Christmas, are more expensive than others, and this should be built into a set monthly sum. Having negotiated a system, both you and your teenager have to agree on an introductory period. Both sides need to give assurances. Yours should be to sit back and resist the temptation to interfere. Unless specifically asked, you should bite your tongue and keep silent until you come back to the table for a review – in, say, three months. In return, they must agree to keep a written record of their transactions, and not to ask for more money. Three months will give your teenager a chance to make some mistakes and learn from them. It will give you all a chance to see if the amount agreed upon was fair or whether it should be adjusted, and it will give both sides an opportunity to see the advantages of this system.

For the young person, the advantages are obvious. He or she will be free to decide their own priorities and make their own choices. Instead of having to justify their tastes to you, they will have to think in terms of good value and forward planning. These are far more valuable lessons to learn than how to win an argument or wear down an aged parent! The advantages to you may be far less obvious but even more momentous. Handing over control of money removes the reason for so many arguments and disagreements. It may also save you the need to bail your youngster out of trouble in the future. And above all, it can lift a burden from your shoulders, if you are prepared to explain and share the way the family budget works.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.