When your child reached a certain age and level of maturity, you realized it was time to give them an allowance. Since then, you’ve kept the allowance independent of their chores and academic accomplishments. Way to teach your kiddo their first lessons on personal finance!
But, as your child grows and gets older, there’s a nagging question that keeps coming up for you: How long should I keep giving my kids an allowance?
Some might immediately think that the end of high school is the obvious choice. But it turns out it’s not that simple. Here you’ll learn when you should stop giving your child an allowance and a list of variables you might not have thought about that’ll help you figure out when your child is ready to handle income all on their own.
Weighing Your Options
Every single family is different. And every single family has a different financial situation. Another important factor to consider here is your family’s thoughts on when a child is ready to become fully independent. You should consider all of these notions when selecting an allowance “dismount” path for your family.
The goal here is to decide and make sure your child also knows what to expect. Remember that adulting is a process and a time for significant changes. For many parents, it’s important to avoid adding extra stress on their kids during this time.
A few questions that may help you make this decision: Is your child responsible with their allowance money? Or do they blow it all on video games? If you feel like your child might have mastered the art of budgeting and/or saving, it might be time to start cutting the financial cord.
They Earn Their Own Money
Many parents feel that when a child earns their own money, it’s time to end their allowance. But not so fast!
If you have a child in elementary school who has a little side job with unreliable income, it’s best to keep giving them allowance until they can get a steady stream of income, which might not come until high school or college.
If your child is a bit older, like a high schooler, they may still need your financial assistance because some kids get overwhelmed when they have to have a job and keep their grades up.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your child’s situation. Here are some questions that may help you determine if it’s a good idea to end or continue the allowance program: Does your child have regular, incoming money? How does this amount compare to the allowance that you give them? Does that money help them supplement their expenses? Are they able to increase their income on their own?
When Exactly You Should Halt The Allowance For Your Child
Some parents will stop giving allowance whenever a child can make their own deposits into their bank account with their first job. Others sit down with their child to create a gradual plan. And some continue depositing the same allowance amount, but instead of giving it to their kids, they put it into an investment account to help them start building their nest egg.
There’s no exact age when you should put an end to your child’s allowance or a perfect method to do so. It’s different for every child and their circumstances. For some, it could be as early as their first job. Others may need a little more hand-holding through college.
Factors to take into account include your child’s:
- Sense of independence and individuality
- Ability to earn money on their own money
- Sources of income
Family circumstances are also important to consider, including:
- Your financial situation
- Your thoughts on independence
- The type of transition you envision for your child
- What you consider to be the best use of your money
Are They Financially Independent?
If your child is done with high school and they have decided to join the workforce, it’s ok to begin pulling your financial support from them. It’s a good idea to do this little by little, as it might not be possible for your child to get a great job right out of high school.
Are They in College?
If your child has decided to go to college, some parents find that one way to ensure a successful experience is by continuing the allowance they’ve been given. This can help them purchase school supplies, enjoy their social life, or even make healthier food choices.
It’s tough for some college students to try to stay on top of their studies, so if they can avoid having to get a job for their essentials, it will give them every tool possible to undertake this amazing yet challenging time in their lives. While some kids can effectively juggle school and work, others still need help from their parents.
If you feel your college student is ready to cover their costs on their own, remember to discuss it and create a plan together. This will make things easier for both of you and let your child know that you’re still there to help – even if that help is now in the form of tips or financial advice rather than dollars in the bank.
Have They Already Graduated?
Some parents opt to continue supporting their children with an allowance even after they’ve graduated from college. They do this to offer the kids a cushion until they’re professionally established and can start paying their own way.
This type of support can be especially helpful for college grads who have loans to pay or who move to a new city and need to set themselves up in an apartment. If you feel comfortable doing so and can afford it, helping your college grad with an allowance could set them up for a more successful financial future.
Of course, it all depends on how your child is spending this money, the cost of living in their city, and the decisions they make. Ultimately, the choice to end an allowance rests with the individual parents.
The Allowance Dismount
If you feel like the time has come to phase out allowance for your child, these are a few things to keep top of mind:
- Allowance shouldn’t be fully taken out at one time. It’s best to phase out the allowance slowly.
- Don’t blindside your child by giving them no notice to prepare. If you are planning on removing your financial help, for whatever reason, it’s best to give your child clear and specific notice. Preferably, at least a few months’ notice.
- Avoid ending your child’s allowance as punishment for poor money management or bad behavior. This can cause children a great deal of stress and anxiety, which is surely not the goal you had in mind. If your child is misusing the allowance and they’re old enough to secure their own income, you can let them know in advance and sit down to help them budget.
- If your family is not ready for this complete shutdown, you could continue to give your child a reduced allowance when they have their first job, ensuring a smoother transition.
Do What Is Best For Your Family
One thing to remember is that each family is different. But if you’re unsure of what route to take, find some friends with whom you share the same values, and see how they have handled allowance and when to stop. If you have a close relationship with your child’s friend’s parents, consider coming up with a plan to help the kids through this transition together.
It’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, you can always reverse course and make adjustments as needed. Adulting is a trial-and-error process that goes in hand with financial independence. But with your support and sound advice, your child will figure things out and achieve their financial goals.