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How much green should you give your tween?

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Spot me a twenty, Mom?

Lately, you’re starting to feel more like your tween’s ATM than her M-O-M. So how much money should you be giving your tween? Or should she get a J-O-B?
Tween with cash

Decide when they're young

If possible, you don't want to wait to decide what your stance is on giving your child money until she is a tween and asking you for cash to go shopping at the mall. It's something you want to start thinking about when she is young. (But if your child is already a tween and you are still trying to figure it out, that's OK too. More on that in a minute.) 

"A parent needs to determine when their child is at a young age if they are going to simply give money, give an allowance or require the tween to earn money. If the parent had not clarity in their own mind about this then they are always going to be going back and forth and it will confuse and frustrate their tween," says David Simonsen, M.S. LMFT.

So as young as preschool? Sure, why not. Molly, mother of two from Arizona, already gives her 3- year-old an allowance. And her 5-year-old too. They receive $1 each per week if they are well-behaved. "We have a chart system to keep track," says Molly.

4 fun activities to teach your preschooler about money >>

Avoid the entitlement 'tude

Entitlement. The word alone makes any mom shudder. To think of your child one day expecting money just because, well, he's owed it. So how can you help your child avoid developing an entitlement 'tude? (Don't worry, you can!)

Jennifer Little, Ph.D, says, "Children need to learn that money isn't free (as happens when always tapping the home ATM pockets). Meeting obligations and responsibilities is how we earn money. Tying a child's spending money to chores around the house (obligations and responsibilities of communal living and their rent) is an excellent way to control spending as well as develop a work ethic and sense of responsibility to others."

Strike a balance

Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder, clinical psychologist who runs the site, It's a Tween's Life, suggests striking a balance between feeling like a human bank machine and not depriving your tween from the good times and things in life. She suggests the following:

  • Establish a weekly allowance and stick to it. How you go about it is up to you, but collaborate with your tween.
  • All or nothing. You and your tween decide on a set of chores and responsibilities she must complete in order to get the allowance.
  • If the allowance system isn't for you, become your tween's main employer and find jobs around the house for her to do. Also check with neighbors, friends and family to see if they can offer her work.
  • Work with your tween to create a monthly budget.

Make a list: Who pays for what?

It's reasonable for your tween to do odd jobs to make money, but what should he be required to pay for? When does he pull out his wallet and when do you pull out yours? Matthew Smith, director of Longacre Leadership, an educational summer program for teens and tweens suggests that you should make a list. "First, think about the child's wants. Then, make a list, and put the wants in one of two columns: The parent pays column, and the child pays column. New shoes? Parent's column. Candy? Child's column."

And... there's also an app for that (of course!)

Personal finance for kids expert and father of two, Mark Bruinooge, took matters into his own hands when it came to teaching his two sons about earning, saving, giving and spending. He founded the app, Tykoon.com. "After trying everything, I found that virtual engagement was the key to holding their attention and making something fun. I took the conversation online, mimicking the virtual gaming experience by tying their chores to online reward notifications via email and online chore charts and letting them track their balances online."

More about your child and money

Smart strategies for teaching kids about money management
Teaching your teens good money habits
Should money be a reward?

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