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Teen Perspective: Who Pays When?

by Louise | February 16th, 2011 | Teen Perspective

One of the most frequent discussions we had in our family was the “who should pay for what” talk. If I need a book for my class, does that come out of my own pocket, or do my parents agreed to help me out with it, since it is directly related to education? Here are a few common subjects we have discussed:

  • Movies and dining – If I wanted to go out to the movies with some friends, it makes sense that I should have had to pay for my own ticket. However, if my parents were going to the same movie as well, and encouraged me to invite a friend, it seems logical that they should pick up the tab for such an outing. The same idea applies to eating out: if my friends wanted to go out for an ice cream and I wanted to go with them, it would be something I covered with my own money.
  • Birthday gifts – This one is definitely a tricky topic, and depends a bit on age. If a tween (or younger child) is invited to a birthday party, he or she is pretty much expected to bring a gift. If a tween has to pay for this present with his or her own money, it is likely that the resulting gift will be less than ideal, to say the least. A child doesn’t really choose which parties he or she is invited to (believe it or not), and because of that, I think this is one area where parents should frequently help out kids.
  • Clothing – Growing up, my parents always paid for my clothes, but that was because I didn’t buy much more than the bare essentials from the clearance rack anyway. I had a friend who received a decent allowance, but usually had to pay for half of the cost of her clothes. If her mother didn’t like the outfit, she would have to cover the entire cost herself; this seemed like a reasonable approach.

Naturally, many of these topics will have different answers for different families, based on standard of living. Also, whether or not the child works or receives an allowance (and if so, the amount) can make a considerable difference. On the whole, what matters most is to be consistent about the ultimate decision, especially if younger siblings will be dealing with the same topic in the future.

  1. Michele says:

    We have come to an agreement with our children on expenses. Our children are tweens and pre-driving age teens, therefore none of them work. For outings, such as movies or bowling with friends, we will pay for the event. However, the child needs to complete a chore of our choice in return for the money.
    We also pay for clothing, within reason. We will shop at “cool” stores but set price limits on what we will buy. Items above those prices can be requested as gifts, or the kids can save to buy them.

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