Teenagers, money and work

 

Teenage pulling empty pocket out of jeansYour teenager thinks you're a walking bank. It's not pretty, it's not kind, but it is, sadly, almost always true.

So, what can you do? After all, what you're aiming to do here is raise a kid who's independent and self-supporting. Parenting teenagers is about raising children who can go on to do what you're doing now, ie raise a family. So you have to wean them off the umbilical cord of your cash, and get them to be responsible for their own income and expenditure.

The biggest lesson to teach is that money doesn't grow on trees: we all have to earn what we spend. And it's important not to confuse showing love and affection for our teenagers with showering them with cash and presents: our time is the most important gift we can give them, so hold on yet another handout and schedule an afternoon together hanging out at home, or going for a cycle ride, or just watching a programme together on the telly (teenagers are surprisingly open to the idea of shared time).

Adolescence, of course, does require cash – and the perennial question, much-debated on Mumsnet Talk, is: how much pocket money should they get?

Answers range from £10 a month to £100 a month. So first you have to figure out the variables - what is your teenager expected to buy for the money you give, is it simply incidental expenditure, or is he buying his clothes, paying for school lunches etc?

Second, how much can you afford? You have to be honest with your child: families have budgets to balance, and there's only so much money to go around.

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And third, what are the reasonable expenses your child has to meet? If you live outside a big city, for example, a lot of pocket money might be taken up on fares just getting in and out of the centre – and this has to be factored in.

"My daughter is much younger, but we have a rule in our house that all allowance/money received is divided three ways: spending; saving; giving (not an equal third, but in the region of 10%). It (so far) seems to be teaching DD how to choose what she spends on, how to save for something 'big' / a rainy day, and how to give back to those who have greater need." Earlybird

Getting your child a bank account is a really good idea, as is underlining the fact that if there's no money in the bank, none can come out (a good lesson to get across while they're still ineligible for credit cards).
 

What about teenagers getting a job?

Most teenagers do some paid work, but it's often an informal arrangement and the benefits are cash-in-hand. Babysitting is one of the most enjoyable and interesting (compared with other jobs on offer) work to be had. Paper rounds are another favourite.

Teenagers and work at:

 • Age 16
 • Age 17
 • Age 18

Over-16s often want to try to earn 'real' money, but the search for work – especially in the current jobs climate – can be tough. On the other hand, persistence usually pays off.

"My DD did a one-page CV plus an application letter and delivered it in person looking very respectable - think this really helps get you remembered particularly as a lot of employers want someone who can speak to the general public quite comfortably. She got several offers out of it - one hotel, one shop and one holiday park. You just have to persevere. Follow up with a phone call a week later." BodenGroupie

Remember that work for a teenager isn't just about earning money. It's also about acquiring life skills, widening their circle of experience, and looking ahead to the sort of work they'd like to do in the long-term.

"Perhaps a hobby or interest she has could give ideas for type of work, or looking ahead to the type of career she wants." skramble

 

Last updated: 25-Mar-2014 at 10:40 AM