A recent survey conducted by Finder.com says that parents are shelling out around $41 billion a year on allowances for their children. For some quick context, that’s more than the US government spends on energy and the environment ($39.14 billion), transportation ($26 billion), and NASA ($18.5 billion). And while $41 billion may seem like huge number, the bigger surprise in the survey results was that it’s being doled out by far fewer parents than anyone might imagine. Only 1 in 2 parents actually give their kids an allowance.
Of those parents who do, an overwhelming majority (86.17 percent) require the child complete at least one chore to earn their cash. Children under 10 average about $13 per week, while kids between 11 to 21 are bringing in around $20. That said, there’s reason to believe these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as Finder only surveyed 2,000 parents. Considering there are tens of millions of parents in the US, that’s a pretty small sample size, to say the least.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Allowances
In 2017, Rooster Money conducted a similar survey where they polled five times the number of parents and found that children ages four to fourteen received $454 in allowance annually. But Rooster took their study a step further by concluding it unlikely that a teenager and a small child would make the same amount. They found the average 4-year-old made $3.76 a week while an average 14-year-old took in about $12.26. To Finder’s credit, however, they did determine the average age of the respondents oldest child to be 14 with the second oldest child being about 12. The older child makes an average of $19.78 a week while the second oldest makes about $1.25 less at $17.47.
While having baseline dollar amounts based on age is fine, parents who want to give their children an allowance shouldn’t just assign arbitrary amounts. According to Stuart Diamond, author of the book Getting More, parents are better served by actively negotiating with their kids over the weekly amount. Diamond argues that when parents learn how to negotiate with their children, they’re really establishing trust and a reliable means of communication. For Diamond, negotiation is the act of “someone trying to meet their goals with someone else.” Kids can act in a way that seems uncompromising, but they aren’t stupid, and they do understand the limits of their power. In terms of allowance, kids understand that they aren’t the ones with money to barter. So negotiation becomes a healthy way for them to not feel exploited or bossed around, but rather like their coming to an accord that is mutually beneficial.