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My 14 year old son currently gets an allowance of $12 per week.

He has no fiancial obligations that he has to pay from this amount, this is just for "fun" things. He does a list of chores, together with the family, but we do not "pay" for doing them via allowance.

He claims that his friends get $20 per week and wants me to increase his allowance. Financially speaking, that wouldn't be a problem. But I see his friends smoke and I don't want him to follow suit. I'm afraid that giving him more money would lead to his spending it for unwise or potentially dangerous things and I find it impossible to control what he uses his allowance for. My feeling is that the current amount is sufficient.

Am I completely out of sync? Are there any resources on an "appropriate" amount or how do I handle the discrepancy of allowances?

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    Does he earn the money or are you just giving it to him? – user20343 Dec 20 '16 at 19:34
  • Added to question. Ben does dishes, dishwasher fill and put away, collects the trash, rakes, mows, washes car with all of us. Sorry, English is not good. I read other answers. No pay for chores. He gets allowance for fun things. – user25773 Dec 20 '16 at 20:58
  • Not sure how a difference of 8 dollars is going to allow him to smoke, but then where I'm from the difficulty lies in a minor getting tobacco, rather than paying for it. Also, possibly related/of interest to the OP: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/15009/… – sharur Dec 20 '16 at 22:13
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    I think "What is a good allowance scheme" might be okay, or "how do I help my child learn financially skills", or similar - not an evaluation of your specific situation, though. – Joe Dec 20 '16 at 22:19
  • Consider what it is that you want to give an allowance for. Is it for luxury purchases (candy, snacks, comics, movies, etc.)? If so, what percent of your budget is allocated for these? What is a fair way to divide that between the family? These are questions you need to answer. – called2voyage Dec 20 '16 at 22:41
4

I think that allowance is set by families to their own comfort level. I don't mean that because you could afford to give your son more money, that you should. I mean that if you think the amount is fair, then that is probably a good instinct on your part.

As for smoking, it is nearly impossible for your son to hide it from you. His breath and hands, hair and clothing will smell. I would make the threat that you will not GIVE him money if he spends on things he is not yet allowed to do. Smoking, drugs, alcohol, betting -- any of the things that minors do not have legal or parental permission for. That is part of parenting. Sometimes we risk being unpopular with our kids. The best we can hope for is that they will understand in time why you deny them things today.

You cannot prevent him from earning money elsewhere and once earned, he will spend the money as he likes. I think education is key here. I assume dedusha is parent or grandparent? If he knew that person, then let him know how much it hurts you that they have died from cancer that might have come from smoking. Please be very careful to tell only the truth. If you exaggerate, your child may think you are wrong or lying. It is also easy to find antismoking videos on Youtube and other places on the internet. They might not work, some people think they are 'jokes'.

  • My father died last year. Thank you for you answer. – user25773 Dec 22 '16 at 2:09
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I believe you have two separate but linked problems here, smoking and raising allowance.

If you are worried about your son smoking, talk to him about smoking. Ask him what he thinks about it, what he thinks about his friend smoking, etc. Talk about why you don't want him to smoke. Teach him.

Realize that if he really wanted to smoke, he could do it on his current allowance. He could even just bum cigarettes off his friend. While restricting his cash flow makes it harder to smoke, it wouldn't be impossible. Remember that one day he will get a job and have much more income, income that you won't be able to control. And then if he wants to smoke, he will. But if you teach him about it now and he decides he doesn't want to smoke, a change in income won't magically make him want to smoke.

1Basically, don't use allowance restrictions as a way to stop smoking. Don't use allowance as substitute to being a parent and talking to your child about this. If you are worried about it, address it directly.

As far as figuring out allowance goes, I wouldn't worry so much about what his friends get. Talk to your son about what he spends his money on. Ask him what he would like to do with the extra money. If all of that sounds reasonable to you and you are comfortable with it, increase it. If you feel like it would be excessive or inappropriate, tell your son that and why. Be willing to listen to his arguments. If he makes valid points, acknowledge and consider them. Make this a discussion, so you can both see each other's side of things. This also makes for an excellent teaching opportunity about how family finances work and what are appropriate uses of money.


1 I didn't intend for this paragraph to sound like a criticism of you or your parenting. The fact that you worry about this kind of stuff shows you care and are trying. This was meant to be bit of a wake up call, so please don't take this the wrong way.

  • Thank you. I am sorry my English is bad that you had to correct it. Yes I tell Ben about not to smoke. His ded die caushka – user25773 Dec 21 '16 at 16:34
  • His dedusha die cancer. Thank you for answering. – user25773 Dec 21 '16 at 17:01
  • For what it's worth, the tone of that paragraph is spot on. I don't think it's harsh at all. – user19750 Dec 23 '16 at 13:55
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So there's probably a set of rules for how to treat allowances, one set of rules for every book on parenting out there. I think there's a lot of options, but one argument fascinated me. It's the one given in The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The logic is pretty simple, and it actually turns out to not be a very new thing, but it's something we don't often think about:

The correct amount to pay an employee is exactly the amount that takes the issue of money off of the table.

The video explains that for simple tasks (take out the trash, do the dishes), simple rewards systems of "more work equals more rewards" works pretty well. However, if you give them any reasonably difficult task which requires thinking, it turns out that you really want to find a happy medium. Pay them too little, and they feel cheated. Pay them too much, and they feel obliged to perform, and actually do worse than if you paid them a middle amount!

Given that "be a good son" is a tremendously complicated job description, I think that video's argument may be very valuable for you. Find the right amount of money to take the issue of money off of the table. "Be a good parent" is also difficult, so you have to find the amount of money that takes money off the table for you too! Feel free to negotiate everything else. Perhaps there's a particular responsibility that you have wanted your son to take on. Maybe point out to him that you feel $20 is too much for someone who isn't taking that responsibility on, and you want to do discuss it. Like all negotiations, it's complex, but in the end if you can find a balance such that the issue of money stops being an issue, then you win.

Heck, it might even be a way to delicately introduce the topic of smoking. I don't think you could ever get away with wording it as "I'll pay you $20, but you can't smoke," but you may be able to find a way to use the allowance talks to get a line of communication going between the two of you on what appears to be a major issue for you. A son who realizes you value open lines of communication to them is a great asset indeed, and easily worth a few extra bucks a month!

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I agree that not smoking is not related to his cash. Both my parents died from smoking so there's no way in hell that I pay for poison. Try to align not smoking with the core values of your son or maybe arrange a meeting with somebody who'll die soon of lung cancer if that would impress him. Help him to socialize with his friends without having to smoke. He must learn to be able to be friends without succumbing to peer pressure. And ideally it must be his own choice in alignment with his current values so he won't rebel against it. He doesn't want to smoke, he wants to belong. There are better ways to achieve that than poisoning yourself. Of course neither mom nor dad must smoke.

Regarding his allowance. Make him earn the money. Earning money is far superior to getting money. It just feels better.

Just my personal opinion. Disregard at will.

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