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How Much Should You Pay for an Allowance? on 9/23/2014

My 10-year-old earns $5 a week for taking care of regular tasks – making his lunch, cleaning his bathroom, taking out the garbage – and for helping without complaint, ideally, with chores like yard work and washing the car. Every year on his birthday he gets a raise and we discuss his new responsibilities.

Am I doing it right?

Using the 50 cents/week/years old rule, I nailed it. An informal survey of friends with children revealed they’re giving their kids anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per week per years old, but I’ve heard rumors of kids in grade school who get much more than that.

Of course, the amount paid is related to what the family can afford and what is expected in return. Read more about the philosophy of allowances.

THE ELUSIVE ANSWER

I found an online poll that I thought might provide some insight. “What is a fair allowance for an average 10-year-old?” I cast my vote for $5 a week and was gratified to see that response received 43% of the vote. But with only 85 responses, I didn’t consider this a definitive answer.

Results of a 2012 survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) were the most recent data I could find about kids’ allowances. The survey showed that the average allowance for kids of all ages (through age 25!) is $65 a month, or around $16 per week.

Here’s the allowance breakdown across broad age categories:

  • 4-12 years old: $5.90/week
  • 13-17 years old: $14.59/week
  • 18-25 years old: $34.88/week

With four-year-olds in the same category, my son’s $5 is surely way below the norm.

Kids’ Money Store®, an online resource, offered this suggestion for determining how much to pay: Total up the amount you are spending on your children now. Give that amount to them as an allowance and let them make their own decisions. As their needs change, so can the amount. Be open to reviewing it when appropriate.

That’s logical. It would just require some up-front work for parents, as well as a little faith in your kids’ decision-making.

DON'T FORGET SPENDING GUIDELINES.

With parents focused on how much to pay and what’s done in exchange, the issue of money management may get lost. This is where my system could use some work. I haven’t defined how my son is expected to use his allowance.

We’re lucky he’s a natural saver. The AICPA reported that only 1% of parents say their kids save their allowance. My son’s money stays in his piggy bank, and we make periodic trips to the Credit Union to make deposits to his savings account. So when there’s something he wants that I feel is outside my financial responsibility, he has the money to buy it himself – if he wants it badly enough to spend his own money.

Kids’ Money Store has advice about this, too: Sit down with your children and make a list of everything they are expected to pay for. This solves the conflicts that may come up in stores and as they walk out the door to go to the movies.

Earning, budgeting, and saving are lessons that go along with paying an allowance, says the AIPCA – I couldn’t agree more.

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