So far, we have been talking about allowances, but in general terms and not specifically for teenagers. As a parent I happen to believe that the allowance question becomes more important as your child gets older. At least it feels like it to me. After all, they are just that much closer to being out on their own (hopefully). So, ya better teach them to manage their money now or they are gonna live with you forever.
Now remember, this is a judgement free ‘allowance question’ zone. We have talked about different approaches and the pros and cons of each. But today is a little different. I am going to tell you what we did with our older son and are currently doing with Eva. This is not a sermon and certainly NOT a ‘you better do it this way if you want to be a good parent’ kind of post. Just sharing what has worked for us.
Our approach was to give our children real responsibility regarding money when they turned 13. Nothing magical about that age, just when we decided to change our allowance system. Here is what we did when our son turned 13 and then three years later when Eva turned 13.
First we determined how much money we spent on clothing for our son in a calendar year. We made a list of how many shirts, pants, jeans, tees and the like that he would normally have for each season. We also included things like belts and pj’s as well as dressier clothing for church. We then added up how much approximately each item would cost according to where we could afford to shop. Once we had this ‘Master List’ of clothing and the total amount for the year, we simply divided by twelve. This helped us determine his monthly clothing allowance.
We were careful to make sure that we did not ‘short’ him on the amount but actually gave him what we would genuinely spend on clothing for him. We also started him with a little extra in order to get him off to a good start. This did not impact our financial ‘bottom line’ because we were only transferring the money we would have spent as a normal part of our budget to his account. An important point to remember is that this doesn’t do anyone any good if you provoke your teen by being unreasonable with the amount that you give. We wanted to help our kids learn to manage money, but not at the cost of our relationship with them.
It is crucial to communicate thoroughly at this point. Are you going to allow your teen to use this money for anything they want? Are they allowed to buy any style of clothing they like? Well, for us the answer was no. We chose to be a bit more involved with their choices in the beginning. I sure didn’t want to have a thirteen year walking around with only two shirts and a pair of ripped jeans to his name! After one year of close supervision, we stepped back and allowed him to use the money more freely and make more of his own style choices. If everyone has a good grasp on exactly what is expected of them, it will make the transition easier for the whole family. Our kids understood the limitations for that first year and were excited to have the opportunity to handle their own money so we had relatively little conflict.
Next time, I will share the pros and cons of this approach and how different my kids were in handling their clothing money. Overall, this has worked quite well for our family and I hope it gives you some ideas on how to help your teenagers learn to manage money practically.