Editor's Note: Do you have a question about your finances? Crosswalk.com welcomes financial columnist, Deborah Nayrocker. Deborah will be answering selected readers' questions in her monthly column. To submit your question, email us at: moneyquestions@crosswalk.com

Dear Deborah,

What are your thoughts on giving teens an allowance? I’m a mother of a responsible teenage boy.

--Julie

That’s great that you have a responsible teen. Did you have an allowance system in place when he was younger?

The time to begin giving our children an allowance is before they are teenagers. As parents, we want to help our children become competent at managing money from a young age.

Children can begin receiving an allowance as early as kindergarten. They can understand the connection between having chores at home and getting an allowance. They learn that responsibility and money go hand in hand. As long as their chores are completed, they have earned their weekly allowance. When deciding on the dollar amount, consider their ages and responsibilities at home. 

Although we can offer our children guidance in money matters, it’s up to them to decide how to use their money. An allowance permits them to make small mistakes in a controlled situation. They are capable of making choices and they can learn from their mistakes. Elementary age children can do less financial damage dribbling away their money than teenagers can.

You may want to give your teenager a larger allowance to include clothing expenses. This gives him practice in budgeting for necessities as well as discretionary spending.

Many consumers today are stressing with money issues because they didn’t learn to budget as children and teens. Learning to be financially savvy before leaving home is a huge advantage.

Studies indicate there is a clear relationship between parents’ behaviors and children’s behaviors in handling money. Children observe their parents and learn from them. If parents are good money managers, their children will be more likely to manage their money well.

Dear Deborah,

I have two teenagers. Do you recommend that they have their own debit card?

--Tasha

Using a debit card can be a good way to track spending. The use of debit cards has outnumbered credit cards for purchase transactions. When your teens open separate checking accounts with their credit union or bank, the financial institution can issue each of them a debit card.

Debit card users shouldn’t be careless with their cards or give out their personal identification numbers (PIN). With identity theft on the rise, care needs to be taken to minimize risk.

It’s important for debit card users to save the receipts and regularly enter purchase amounts into the checkbook. Purchase amounts are automatically deducted from checking, so there must always be a positive balance in the account. If you think your teens can handle their debit cards responsibly, let them give it a try.


Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. An award-winning writer, she is a regular guest contributor to CBN.com and the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life. Learn more about her work at http://www.artofdebt-freeliving.com/.