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VOICES | Youth Platform

Should Teens Get an Allowance?

January 15, 2000

While half of all teens get no allowance, those who receive one get a median of $50 a week, according to researchers at Ohio State University. The region of the country and parents' incomes appear to be determining factors. In the Great Lakes region, teens average $75 a week; in the South, they average $30 to $38 weekly. Teens whose parents earn $100,000 yearly receive $175 weekly allowance; those with household incomes less than $20,000 yearly receive an allowance of $14 a week.

Should teens receive an allowance? How do they spend their money? Four high school students spoke with MARY REESE BOYKIN.


18, senior, Dorsey High School

Teens need an allowance. Take lunch money. At Dorsey, a small pan pizza costs $2.75, a sandwich is $1.50, a soda is 65 cents or $1 from the soda machine. My parents give me a $20 a week allowance. If something special is happening, they give me $40 to $50. It takes $16 just to fill my gas tank. We teens drive more than adults because we drive with no particular place in mind.

But beyond my allowance, my parents buy my clothes, usually $100 or less a month. I get my hair styled every three months for $160. Because it was my mother's idea to get me a car, she pays the $329 monthly car note; my dad pays the $292-a-month insurance.

I deserve this because I'm a very good teenager. I give my parents no problems. I never talk back. I get good grades, and they are happy. They have four older children who were more challenging as teenagers.

My mom shops every week. She tells me that life is short; live it, and spend all that you can. My dad is a more conservative spender. I just receive. I had a job once, but I wasn't saving, so it did not make much sense for me to work when I can spend my parents' money. I feel sorry for kids who don't have a chance to spend and live their lives. If we want to go to a movie after school, I have some friends who always say, "Well, I can't go because I don't have any money. There is nothing extra in my house after my parents pay the bills."

I'll get a job after I graduate from high school. I keep getting things I don't need--like having my name engraved on the yearbook--because it's available.

I know that I'll have to get a job soon. Although saving is hard, it is a necessity. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in great debt or a world of trouble.


16, sophomore, St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey

In eighth grade I received a $20-a-week allowance, and there was no coming back for more. I learned to save and not waste.

I now have a night janitorial job. I make $200 every two weeks. Every week, I give myself a $20 allowance. Because my parents sacrificed so much for me, I offer them something every payday. They usually say no, but I tell them to take it anyway. If it is needed for the household, they use it. If not, they put it aside. If I need money between paydays, they give it back to me. I put the rest of my money in a bank account for school books, field trips and holidays.

I think that children should earn money at 12 or 13 by fulfilling certain responsibilities. Parents can say, "If your room is clean, you receive money." That way, children learn that money is earned, not given.

But I think that if kids are given an allowance, parents must talk with them constantly to determine how it is being spent. After all, parents want to avoid a situation where kids' allowance exceed their needs, creating a situation where money can be spent easily on drugs.


14, ninth grade, South High School, Torrance

My father gives me a $10-a-week allowance on Friday mornings. I am given $3 a day for lunch, separate from my allowance. By Friday evening, I tell him, "Dad, you're the man; give me (more) money." He is getting used to it now. I get anywhere from $30 to $40 a week.

I spend my money on golf--$25 for 18 holes; for the movies--$10 for admission, candy or soda. Since I am under the legal working age, I should be given an allowance. If teens don't have money, life is boring.

I think it is unfair if parents don't give kids money.


17, senior, City of Angels School

I get an allowance of $40 to $50 a week. I use my money mainly to take out my girlfriend and buy clothes. I deserve an allowance because I do all my homework. There was a time when I didn't do it, so receiving an allowance is like a reward.

Today's teens want more. If someone has new shoes, I want them too. If I can't have them, I feel sad. If a rap artist or an actor wears a certain style, I want to have that style. That's the way kids are.

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