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Feb 6, 2017

Kids’ Allowances: What Rules and How Much to Pay?

Some interesting allowance statistics:

  • Today’s kids get an average allowance of $67.80 per month.

  • The majority of kids (60%) work for it by doing family chores.

  • Only about 20% of families give an allowance as a “gift” with no strings attached.

  • Another 20% of families don’t give allowances at all.

While these general guidelines are helpful, most parents still have lots of questions about allowances. Of course, there’s no single, “right” way to structure your child’s allowance. However, these tips might help you decide what works best for your family:

When should I start giving my kid an allowance?

Most parents start around age 8, according to a T.Rowe Price survey. This is a good rule-of-thumb age. One tip: If your child mixes in cash and coins with her toys or routinely leaves money sitting around the house, she’s not yet ready for an allowance.

How often should I give it?

Weekly for younger kids and allowance beginners. They’ll have trouble making their money last much longer than seven days. Switch to giving your kids a monthly allowance when they’re about 11. This requires them to budget their money over a longer amount of time.

How much should I pay?

Although the current U.S. average is $67.80/month, that’s for kids of all ages. Your mileage may vary. For instance, you may want to pay a dollar or so per year of a child’s age, and give raises at every birthday. By high school, you might prefer to give your teen enough money to cover his own costs for clothing, personal supplies, bus, etc. You can base the amount on how much money you think is reasonable for your child to spend, rather than just his or her age.

Should I tie allowance to chores or grades?

There are different schools of thought on this.

  • Tie to chores, yes: Some parents advocate paying kids “commissions” so money remains connected to working hard.

  • Tie to chores, no: Kids could decide to skip chores if they don’t need money.

  • Pay for grades, yes: This practice can teach kids that good work leads to rewards.

  • Pay for grades, no: It could take away their sense of pride, or be tricky for kids who truly struggle academically.

Should saving and/or donating be part of the allowance picture?

Most experts say definitely yes on this point. Give kids jars, envelopes, piggy banks or help them set up digital budget categories for Spend, Donate and Save. Older kids might also need bank accounts or digital categories for saving larger amounts of money—for a car, college, etc. Your goal is simply to help your kids see that money is never just for spending.

(photo courtesy © James Thompson cc2.0)

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