American Parents Shell Out $41 Billion a Year in Allowances, Says Study

Every Sunday, I raid my wallet for $10 to give my 15-year-old son for his allowance. Now $10 may not seem like a lot, but it actually is when neither myself nor my husband ever seem to have it. Cash-money is a real rarity in our house, and apparently giving a teen a measly $10 is as well.

In a survey conducted by Finder.com, American parents shell out a whopping $41 billion a year in allowances. That’s right, $41 BILLION.

Whoa, that’s a lot of cheddar! Surely that means every. single. parent. in all 50 states with kids ranging in age from 0 to 18 are coughing up weekly cash, right? You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. That $41 billion is given by only 53 percent of American parents! WHOA.

So that means approximately 47 percent of American parents are keeping their cash. While their reasons are surely aplenty, Babble readers shared theirs:

“There are many [unpaid] household chores that you have to do because you are part of a family and since we as parents make sure everything is taken care of, some family responsibilities get delegated to them.” — Mackenna M.

“We thought about giving allowance but really they get a roof and food and help as a team in our house.” — Kristen D.

“I told mine they could either have an allowance and then be responsible for paying for the things they want. Or no allowance and we’d discuss things they want as they come up. They all prefer not having an allowance.” — Shell R.

“Zero since I pay for baseball and football and equipment. It wouldn’t even be fair to me!” — Brigette B.

“As an honest parent I will say that: One, I got too many people on the payroll already … Two, I never-ever have cash on me so, until my kid is old enough to accept direct deposit, it’s not going to happen. Three, [kids], do well in school and contribute to the upkeep of the house and mom and dad will pay for stuff.” — Jeannette V.

Still, approximately half of all American parents are doling out $41 billion annually to their kids, which begs the obvious question from thrifty parents like me: How much money is each kid getting?

In a survey of 2,000 parents, Finder.com found that kids up to age 10 collect an average of $13 a week. And get this: Kids ages 11-21 earn an average of $17 per week.

Shocked? ME TOO. And for a few reasons. First, my teen only earns $10 a week and I thought that was pretty generous considering the extra tasks required of him and minimum wage rate in our state (yes, I factored that in). Second, who are these parents giving allowances to kids over 18? Isn’t that what jobs are for?

Mom of two Karen V. thinks so. “[My son is] 18 now, so he needs to contribute now just to live here, so no more allowance.” Makes sense to me!

Oh, and that’s not all. As it turns out, only children are raking in the biggest bucks of all, collecting a sweet $19 a week (hello, $988 a year) compared to those with sibs who earn just $16 on average. Still, that’s a lot of green.

Father of two, Russ K. wouldn’t agree with such a hefty payday. “Start them at an amount that they think is deficient. Tiny increments over time. That’s how it is in the real world,” he says.

I suppose I could get behind this money train a little easier if extra work was being performed above and beyond what’s generally required to maintain a household, but guess what? It’s not … at least, not always. Researchers found that while 86 percent of parents require their kids to work hard for the money, 14 percent do not.

Babble readers had pretty strong opinions about all that, not to mention some pretty brilliant methods for instilling fiscal responsibility:

“If he wants money, he does jobs. No one pays me just for existing. There are chores, which are his responsibility as a member of the family, and then there are jobs, which pay cash.” — Lizz P.

“[My two boys, ages 9 and 11 are] paid by job and we require that they portion out a percentage to savings and charity per job. They keep track of it on their own check registers.” — Trish V.

“The allowance starts at 5 years old. … once they turn 5, we no longer buy them fun stuff. If they want a toy or video game, they have to buy it. Takes the pressure off of us for saying no to everything.” — Jaime K.

“Our kids have regular weekly chores and daily chores that are expected to be done as a member of our family. They do not get paid for these. We have a clipboard hanging in our laundry room where I jot down chores (along with possible value of the chore) that can be done for pay. We don’t require them to save their money. But, we will pay them a percentage of the amount they choose to deposit in the bank. So, if they decide to save $10, we’ll deposit $12 as an incentive to save rather than spend.” — Carol C.

In the end, money is personal and what works for one family may not work for another. All I know is, with kids, I just never seem to have enough of it.

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