Tonight my husband and I have plans to sit down once the kids go to bed and go over our monthly budget together. I am actually really looking forward to this. For one, it will be a time that we can spend talking things out and planning our future. For another it keeps him in the loop with what is going on. I handle all the finances for the family. I pay bills, write checks for school lunch, know what we pay for insurance, etc. Sitting down with my husband and going over expenses every couple weeks lets him know where his hard earned money is going.
One of the main topics I want to discuss with my husband tonight is our children's allowance. Here is my dilemma. We have a son who will be 16 in 2 weeks. He is very involved in school sports and activities.. He is also very social. Once a week his basketball team goes out to dinner. There are also times where he wants to go with his friends for lunch or after school for a "snack" (with a teenage boy this means heading to Burger King for his first dinner).
As of right now we give him $20 a month for an allowance. He has to pay for his own extra activities. We bought him a school pass which allows him to get into all the school related sports events for the year. So that is one expense that is already covered. The problem we are having is he is running out of money very early in the month. For example his team had a dinner at IHOP the other night. His meal, along with tip (which is another item we have to discus with our teenager himself) cost almost $15!! 2 days into the month he is down to $5.
I want him to be involved with school and friends but I also don't want to go broke in doing so. Since he does not have a car we don't have to deal with gas or insurance but that is going to have to be discussed in the near future as well.
I know we have a lot of options. Unfortunately $20 a month, won't get you very far. Ideally he should get a job and pay for some of his expenses. However, like I said he is involved with sports each month and I think this is very important and teaches him a lot of life skills. He is doing great this year with his grades, really striving to get a good GPA so that he can get into college. I don't want him to have to work many hours each week and then see his grades slip. I also don't want to cause more stress, since I think teenagers already have a lot more stress and peer pressure these days then we did as kids.
There is a lot to think about and discuss. I am curious, any of you with teenagers, how do you handle finances? Do you give an allowance? Limit the amount of activities they do? Require them to get a job?