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I Want an Allowance

written by: Jamie Clayton • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/5/2012

When your child veers towards the path of allowances, do not panic. Walking through some simple steps and communication will help make this allowance job, a lot easier. Knowing the answers to how much money does the average teenager spend is right at your fingertips.

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    This guide is broken down by age, since spending amounts differ on quantity and product choice.

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    Spending Trends

    13-15

    This age group spend most of their money on clothes. I have found that most parents are making their child's cell phone payments until they are able to work. On average, this age group spends around $300 - $400 a year on clothes, which breaks down to about $5-$8 a week. There will be some additional costs throughout the year, but parents are still paying for food at this age.

    16-17

    Once you have hit that 16th birthday, purchases tend to increase dramatically. Most kids have a job by this age and are purchasing clothes, occasional food, phone costs, movies, dates, social activities and much more. I found the average to be around $1200-$1500 a year. Clothing was still around $400, but social activities sky rocket at this age averaging around $350 just for social activities (mini-golf, movies, concerts, etc.). A lot of teenagers are constantly going to the mall as well, which adds on additional food costs for around $350 for the year. The rest of this balance was spent on phone costs and gas (if they have a vehicle). This will vary of course depending on how social your teen is, but this is a great starting average for you to consider.

    18-19

    With the beginning years of college, this group spends more than the groups before them. On a college forum (College Confidential), many people have said they spent around $3000 for one college year. This cost included food, drinks, bills, clothing cost, and other expenses. Most admitted that they were unaware of what all their money actually went toward. When you are in college usually your budget is a lot tighter, yet you spend a lot more money on food than in any other age bracket. One could have an on-campus meal plan, but after several weeks of that in a row they get burnt out. They spend money off campus for some "real food." None of these cost-estimates deal with books or tuition, since this range is an extreme amount varying from every college. This $3,000 would be spent for people that live on campus. For those that live at home, they will save about an additional $1000 a year from food costs alone. They will spend more money, however, on gas since they drive to school. This will vary of course depending how far away they live.

    If this 18-19 year old age group is just working and at home, they tend to spend a lot less than if they are away at school. With some still living at home, they can spend just right around $1500 for clothes, gas, food, activities, and bills. Once they become independent, and move out of the house, their spending costs will increase. The cost will then vary with rent, utility bills, food, etc. This average can be anywhere from $7,000 - $15,000, depending on where they live and how much they make.

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    I Need Money!

    So many parents these days are giving allowances to their children. Most kids will do some chores, get good grades, and everything else to make this money theirs. While kids are getting these rewards, there are some things that parents can do which will help develop better habits. They can help make them realize money does not grow on trees.

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    Steps on Making a Set Allowance

    While earning money in the house can be a great experience for the entire family, setting good rules and habits can help further their experience of rewards.

    1. Make sure that when you are setting your expectations of them they are very clear. If you are discussing grades, go in detail about what you are looking for and consequences if they are not met.
    2. A balance in life keeps stress at bay. Children are often busy with school, activities, friends, and of course gossip, so make sure that your expectations do not get in the way of their balance. Setting aside certain times for activities can help keep everything on an even pace.
    3. Establishing what expenses both you and your child will be responsible for will help lessen misunderstandings. If you are going to take care of the clothes and school supplies, maybe have them be responsible for their lunches, saving for college, and anything else that can be agreed on.
    4. Setting a good example is the best way for your kids to learn from you. When you have decided on an allowance make sure it is making sense for the family budget, and at the same time make sure they are contributing.
    5. If you continue to be consistent, you will get results. Stick with what you have said and do not fall for those 'poor kid' eyes. This will help your child realize that money is earned, not to be expected.
    6. Opening a savings account is a great option as well. Make a recommendation that a certain amount of what they make should go into this account for future purchases.
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    How to Calculate an Allowance

    Determining how much to give your child is such a hard question. Each family is very different on how they spend money, how much they bring in, and what those allowance dollars are going towards. Some experts say that you should calculate what you spend on each child every month. After you see this amount, figure out what expenses they should be responsible for. Make sure that what you are giving your child will cover those expenses, but still have some money for extra "kid" things. Depending on where you live and how much you make, kids are getting between $5-$25 a week, on average. This is a large range, but when your children are young the expenses that they have are a lot less. Look at your own budget, your child costs, and figure out what would work best for your own family.

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    Allowance for Employed Kids

    When your child is old enough to step out into the real world and get that first job, encourage them to continue to help around the house. Some parents start to stray in this area, as their children are now bringing in their own money. While your young ones are living under your roof make sure they understand you have expectations around the house and at school. Having a job outside the home does not mean that any contributions on cleaning are now over.

    Setting an allowance for these children may be easier than you might think. In these last years at home, their habits will start to form for the long run. To make sure these habits are formed correctly, help them see the importance on what they are doing. Figure out which chores you want your child to continue. Keep in mind that the teenage life has a lot going on, so try to keep the balance going. Doing outside chores, random cleanings around the house, errands, and watching younger children can be an idea for these employed ones. On average, children that are working and still helping out around the house, get on average $30-$40 a week, depending on where they live. By setting this amount though, it will help them see the importance they play in your house and that they are appreciated at the same time.

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    Overall Allowances

    Please keep in mind that every family is different. If these amounts seem low or high for your family, sit down with your child and see what would be a fair amount. When you include your child in these conversations you might be surprised on what their expectations are for monetary compensation. Allowances will also change over the years because of different additions to your family. These might be a new job change, a sibling, family issue, school schedules, activities, and anything else that might blindside you along the way. Keep the open communication flowing in your family to make allowances not only a reward, but a contribution to the home.

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