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Kids' allowances: What's a reasonable amount and at what age?

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Kids & Money

According to a recent national survey by the American Institute of CPAs, the average allowance for kids in the country totals $65 a month — $780 a year.
Kids & Money

Should kids get an allowance?

The first question you should answer is whether your children should get an allowance at all. Some families don't believe in giving an allowance and instead pay for all their children's wants and needs. Other families only provide an allowance if kids complete certain chores each week. Most experts will agree, however, that providing a child with an allowance can help teach them about earning, saving and spending money — lessons that are essential to building the foundation for a successful financial future.

Setting an allowance

If you have decided to give your children an allowance, the next thing to figure out is how much they should get. Every family situation is different, so there is no catchall answer to this question. When setting an allowance, consider the following factors:

Family income

Depending on your family income, you should be able to figure out how much you are willing to spend on an allowance. Set a ballpark range of how much you can afford to allocate each month or from every paycheck.

What it covers

Are you expecting your teen to buy all his clothes and entertainment with his allowance, or are you paying for those things separately? Think about what the allowance is supposed to cover. If you expect your children to buy all their "extras," then a more generous allowance may be needed.

Kids' ages

Of course, one of the biggest factors is your child's age. What is appropriate for a toddler certainly isn't appropriate for a teen. As your child gets older, she will typically need a larger allowance — until the point when she has her own income.

What's age appropriate?

So what's a reasonable amount, and at what age? Well, you can start giving an allowance to children as young as a year old (or even younger if you like). It's important for kids to start learning about the value of money at a young age.

Need a little more help to figure out how much to give your kids? You can also try this allowance calculator to help decide how much money your children should receive.

Many parents provide an allowance of a dollar for each year of the child's age. A 6-year-old would get $6, a 12-year-old would get $12 and so on. This may be a general guideline that you can use to determine the amount of your child's allowance.

Limits and expectations

Many will say that you shouldn't give your children any type of allowance unless they are earning it. This is a decision that every parent must make. It may behoove you to set a list of limits and expectations that come with the allowance. For example, you can set up a chore chart and let the children know that if they don't complete all their chores each week, they will be forfeiting their allowance or a portion of their allowance. Also set spending and saving limits if you like. Some families require their children to save at least half of their allowance, while other families allow their kids to spend their allowance on anything they wish. By setting the ground rules from the beginning, your kids will understand what they need to do to earn their allowance and how they can spend it.

More about family finances

Mom vs. Dad: The allowance debate
Talking to kids about financial struggles
Teaching your kids about money and debt

Please note: Articles and other information included on this website are intended for the general interest of our readers, and are not intended to provide, and do not constitute, legal, financial, health or other advice. Gerber Life makes no claims, representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or appropriateness of this general interest information for your particular circumstances. If you need legal, financial, health or other services, you should contact a duly licensed professional.

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