Teen daughter and money....thoughts?

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-2013
Teen daughter and money....thoughts?
Wed, 10-09-2013 - 3:18pm

Apologies for the lengthy post: 

I have joint (non-custodial) custody of my 15 year old daughter. I am re-married, stay at home with my and current hubby's son (11) and my husband works his behind off to make decent money. My ex husband is still single and is struggling with his own business. I don't know how much he makes but I think it is not much guessing from things my daughter tells me. 

I see my daughter a few weekends a month or extended school breaks (she lives 2 hours away). We, my husband and I, provide insurance for her, we pay travel expenses in lieu of child support, we bought her laptop for school, we pay for her cell phone as well as pay for the co-pays when we take her to medical appointments. Her Dad gets to claim her on taxes, pays for the little food they have, splits out of pocket medical expenses and gets her clothes. 

My dilemma is: 

My husband and I have always gotten her the things she needs or wants when we can afford it but it is getting a bit costly for us now. We suggested she get a job after school, which she wants to do, but her Dad will only let her work for him, which he as yet to allow her to begin doing. 

Our son, on the other hand, does chores 5 days a week and earns the money he has saved and uses it for games, toys, etc, although we purchase most things for him. Since I have little time with my daughter as it is, I feel I should not ask her to do chores while she is spending time with us and it is only obvious she can't get a job where we live. We do ask her to help with some things around the house, putting away groceries, gathering laundry, etc. but I feel it is time she starts earning the money she asks for...especially now that she is asking us to get her a car because her Dad can't afford it. 

My question: 

Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on how she can earn the money for the things she asks for? I don't want all her time with us to be doing chores, but I also realize we need to stop giving her what she wants when she has not earned it. 

Thanks in advance for the advice!


Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 10-10-2013 - 10:38am

Not sure why the first post of mine (actually was above the previous one so I tried to edit and now it's below!) ended up blank so I'll add another idea - ds did earn some decent (very random/occasional) money dog or cat sitting in our neighborhood - he delivered flyers to the mailboxes and then just waited.  He ended up helping about 4 neighbors for the last few years, that I can recall - one was just during a part of a day when they were at a wedding, others were for a few days when on vacation (winter break or summer), etc.  You can work it to your availability and don't post your rates; just negotiate with the pet owner. He usually ended up with about $20/day for just dropping over 3 times/day to check on the animal or take them out if dogs.


Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 10-10-2013 - 10:28am

I'm another one where chores and allowance weren't tied - chores were expected and a small allowance given til ds turned 15 and got a job lifeguarding 10 or so hours/week.  What I'd suggest as things to earn money - washing windows, cleaning grout (floors or showers, etc.), scrubbing the tile with bleach solution (we have it in our den and kitchen), raking leaves, washing and vacuuming cars, totally cleaning a refrigerator, cleaning cabinets or pantry (take stuff out, clean drawers/shelves, replace stuff neatly), if you have washable drapes, taking those down and cleaning/pressing them and putting them back up, clean the window bases (not sure what they're called; between the screen and the window - usually get dirty from wind/dust/dirt and nasty if you want to open windows) etc.  You decide the rate for each one up front and say if they're done to your satisfaction, you can earn $x for this work (I itemize anything so he can choose - he's in college now and his job doesn't give him many hours so we still do this type of thing - he doesn't live at home but comes by when he needs money and has a couple hours to kill to make some cash). HTH.


Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 10-10-2013 - 9:44am

I am much like Mahopac in that chores and allowance are not tied together.  Chores are an essential part of the household running smoothly, all the kids have to chip in and help.  I have a freshman in college and she started getting an allowance in elementary school and we used it as a budgeting tool for her to learn how to spend and how to save money.  My parents gave her an old car when she turned 16, we paid for insurance, but she was responsible for gas in the car and she got a job when she turned 16.  Once she got a job, we began shifting many of the expenses we were paying for onto her, we'd pay for a certain amount of clothes each year, but anything else she wanted special, it was up to her to save and buy, starbucks after work, IHOP with friends on Friday nights, all on her to pay for.  She learned very quickly to balance out wants and needs and to budget for it. 

I think asking her to be doing more chores around the house is appropriate, but you can also have her do other "special chores" to earn additional money.  My daughter would wash the car on the weekend, or pitch in and help me with a large project like cleaning out the garage, etc. to earn additional money before she was able to get a job.  My husband also owned his own business for a time and would offer to let her do paperwork or computer work for him for extra money.  What about having her babysit her brother while you go out on a date night with your husband, or can she find neighbors in the area that have a need for a babysitter on the weekend?  We have a 4 and 6 year old also and now that the oldest is at college, we lost all of our babysitters.  We are always looking for someone that we could use for a babysitter for a date night or even when my husband is on call all weekend and I need someone to watch the girls for a few hours while I run errands.  There are plenty of ways to earn money here and there, she needs to look for it.  I know its hard while she is at her dad's, would he allow her to babysit kids while at his house?

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Thu, 10-10-2013 - 8:40am

Why does your daughter get everything she wants?  Sounds to me like this isn't only a question about money but spending habits.  I don't have any advice only thoughts of what we do, My kids are 16 14 and 10.  None of them have "jobs" nor are they paid for chores or given an allowance for things they do around the house.  We do save for them, we've established that since they were babies. When my kids ask for the moon I tell them no and sometimes the explaination is simply I don't have money for it.  So far, I've seen different spending behaviors, My oldest kid is a saver.  Of the money she gets (for holidays, from my own purse for things and going out with friends, etc) she is very careful with and spends some and saves some, My second DD is just the opposite.  Every dime she gets she wants to spend all of, Lol.  I can't tell with DS yet as he's only ten, I still pretty much control what he get to spend and what goes in the bank.  Perhaps teaching her what you do might be an idea, sitting down with her and sugessting the rule of thumb that every dollar earned should be split up b/w spending and savings.  That's what we do anyway and that's just my two cents.  Good luck. 




Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 10-09-2013 - 9:41pm

One problem with tying the allowance to doing chores is that a kid who doesn't care about money, or doesn't feel the need to earn any at the moment might decide to not do the chores. Depending on how crucual those chores are to the running of the household, you might have a problem on your hands. And if s/he chooses to do some chores but not all, do you withhold some money, all money? 

What chores were you thinking of assigning to your dd? The chores my kids had typically didn't take up that much time---washing the dishes after dinner, taking out trash, making a bed or vacuuming---maximum 30 mins for one task, and a motivated teen could probably do all of those in less than 30 mins. If Saturday is "clean the house day" and she is there then she pitches in for her part while others are doing their chores, and when all of you are done then you can be together, or free to do whatever.

Kids do need to learn the tasks involved in keeping a household running, and learn that they will be expected to contribute to the running when they are adults. So you are doing her a favor by making sure that she is trained now.

As for her getting a job besides with her dad, can you discuss that with him, since it doesn't seem to really be happening? Of course, if she gets a typical teen job it will likely require her to work on weekends and she might not be able to come to your home very often.

Things do get more complicated the older they get!

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 10-09-2013 - 4:34pm

Well, there are multiple schools of thought on this.  Including the school I subscribe to, which is that everyone in a family, kids and adults, gets money to spend because they're part of the family, and has to contribute to the household in the way they are able for the same reason.  I have never tied allowance to chores.  My kids grew up making their beds, setting & clearing the table, washing dishes, cleaning their rooms and the bathrooms, folding laundry, learning to do their own laundry when they got to high school, taking care of the pets, helping out whenever asked, and so on. They didn't "earn" money, they were given money, and in return they learned that at any moment, they might need to do something for the family. 

The advantage of kids being paid for chores is that they learn how to work for money.  The disadvantage is that money becomes the only incentive for doing anything.  I would argue that doing the right thing is more important than getting paid for it.

Naturally there are other schools of thought on this.  Other parents of young adults who hang out on this board have had their kids get jobs early and proudly learn to pay for everything they own.  To each his own.

The big problem for you is that you don't get to make the unilateral decision about how your daughter gets the money to pay for things she wants.  It has to be made in conjunction with her father.  And complicating matters is that the way you have chosen to go about it with your son is unenforcable with your daughter.  Therefore there's an inherent inequity, which I'm sure your daughter is keenly aware of.

You might want to rethink the philosophy about having to "earn" everything.  Unattach the money from chores and attach it to something else, for both your son and your daughter.  Your DD didn't pick the scenario in which she lives with her father and "little food," while her half-brother gets to have both his parents every day of his life and earn the money for whatever he wants.  I'm sure she's well aware that her brother is not out "earning" money, he's getting it from you while she does not.  I'd suggest you change the game or you will end up with a resentful daughter.