How much allowance should I give my kids?

  • How much allowance should I give my kids?
  • What do other parents do?  What’s the average?
  • Is giving an allowance even a good idea?

Good questions!  Here is some quick information that really will help.

First, about half of families using FamilyMint choose to provide an allowance to their kids.  For the most part, it averages about $.50/week for each year of the child’s age.  As shown in the kids allowance chart below, the average kids allowance for ages 1-5 is about $3, the average for ages 6-10 is about $5, etc.

Average Kids Allowance:

Age    Avg $/week

1-5     $3.09

6-10     $4.91

11-15     $7.51

16+     $10.11

Average     $6.44

Many experts will say $1/week multiplied by your child’s age is the “right amount”.  To this, we say nonsense! There is no “right amount” for every family and every child.  Every family and every situation is different, and allowance rates need to take this into account.

Here is some allowance advice that can apply to any family in any situation:

  1. You already give them money; use this to set an allowance rate.
  2. Use allowance as a teaching tool, not a entitlement.
  3. Expenses do vary based on age, so adjust your allowance amounts every year or so.

About #1… as explained in this post, you already give your kids money, even if you don’t call it an “allowance”. You already pay for clothes, school lunches, snacks, movies, sports, entertainment, and more.  The problem is, if you hold the money, your kids' role becomes that of a beggar or a salesperson.   The more they can convince you they need something, the more money they can get.  This does not create the right behavior or build skills that will benefit our kids long term.  Instead, add up how much you are already spending in some of these categories, give that to them as their allowance, and put them in charge of managing it.  In the long run you will probably spend less money, and in the process your kids have the responsibility and the learning that comes with it.

About #2… if you give them money and don’t tie it to any increase in responsibility, you are creating an entitlement that doesn’t teach them anything.  Instead, follow the advice in #1.  Put them in charge of some of their spending.  While they are young and the stakes are small, let them make mistakes like spending it too fast.  They will learn from the consequences (like not being able to see the next new movie with their friends), as long as you don’t bail them out and loan them or give them money “just this one time”.  Stick with it… they will be better off in the long term for it.

Lastly, a note about tying allowance to chores.  We know many families that do this, but there are some drawbacks to this approach.  First, if you believe there is a certain amount of responsibility the kids have in helping out around the house just because they are members of the family, then paying them to do this work actually works counter to this principle.  If the kids don’t do their standard chores, implement other consequences like more chores, but not loss of an allowance.  Also have other tasks available for them, above and beyond their regular chores, for which they can earn extra money or a commission.

An allowance works best as a financial learning tool for kids.  Give them responsibility and let them learn along the way.  Take advantage of all the teachable moments that FamilyMint helps create.

What are some other allowance best practices you have in place in your own family?