Allowance Power

Tweens gain independence and responsibility when they learn about money.
By Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer



Allowance Power

Money can be a touchy topic with tweens. You’ve probably noticed that yours seems extra sensitive about her pocket money or allowance. But don’t worry: It’s normal. Before age 9, children already see money as precious — something “grown up” that adults hand out sparingly — so they love it when they get their hands on it. For tweens, money represents something even more personal: autonomy. It’s a way to express themselves and to gradually gain power from those in charge.

Tweens need your help to learn a sense of value, to realize that they can’t get something for nothing, and to experience the responsibility that comes with having money. Providing a set and regular allowance will show respect for your tween’s growing maturity while recognizing his need to be autonomous. To help him understand the wider responsibilities that come with money, make the rules surrounding saving, spending, and getting extra money crystal clear.

Decide on money rules before sharing them with your tween; talk them over with your spouse or partner if necessary. Here are some questions you might like to think about and discuss:

  • Should your child get his allowance only if he completes set chores, or should he receive it regardless? Will there be other jobs he can do to earn extra money?
  • Will you give money for things that should be done as part of his role in the family or household — such as homework or dinner table cleanup?
  • What if he does his chores, but sloppily — will you withhold money, give it once he redoes the job, or give it nonetheless?
  • What will your tween be expected to buy with the agreed allowance? Will she be free to buy what she wants, even if you disapprove?
  • Will you make advance payments?

Once rules are set, talk with your tween about responsible saving and how long it might take him to save for bigger ticket items. Suggest ways he can earn extra money — have a yard sale, help out neighbors, do household or garden chores for or with you, or sell something he no longer needs. If he’s saving well, you might offer a bonus to help him reach his target.

Encourage responsible spending as well. Provide allowance regularly — same place, same time — to show it’s both a right and your gift, not given grudgingly. Raise it gradually. Try to avoid giving the allowance in advance or paying for token chores just to help him when his funds dip. If he regrets a purchase, that’s how he’ll learn; don’t reimburse him.


  • Establish a fixed allowance and give it on time to help your tween plan ahead.
  • Assert firm spending and savings guidelines. Be sure to define clearly which chores earn money and which don’t. If arguments start about the job pay rate, stop paying.
  • Discuss your child’s spending plans, but generally let him decide.

Photo Credit: jan mammey/getty images (rm)

Decision Making
Self Control
Critical Thinking
Raising Kids
Age 13
Age 12
Age 11
Just Rewards
Child Development and Behavior
Financial Literacy
Social and Emotional Development
Family Members
Character Education
First Jobs and Chores