Pocket money for teenagers

By Joely Mitchell.

Teen allowance or pocket money

How much pocket money is enough for your teenager? What should their allowance cover? Should parents continue to pay for their kids’ mobile phone bills and clothes, or should teenagers be expected to pay for these out of their own monthly allowance, to teach them budgeting skills?

There are many ways for parents to manage the issue of pocket money, but first you will need a good idea of what it costs to be a teenager.

Following is a breakdown of how much money a typical teenager might need per week.

Public Transport

Many kids these days catch public transport to and from school, work, friends’ houses, or anywhere that is within walking distance from a bus stop or train station. Public transport is convenient, but fares can quickly add up.

A day pass that allows travel through all zones, will cost a teenager between $6-$11 depending on what state or territory you live in.


Takeaway food is an unavoidable expense for teenagers, even for those who don’t frequent typical fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds or KFC. A healthy, salad roll can cost more than a burger and chips. Reading this, parents may be thinking, “but I pack a lunch for my child everyday”. However, the more adventurous and independent your children become, the more inclined they will be to source their own meals (even if they cost $10 each).


Once over the age of 15, a teenager will be classified as ‘student’ or ‘concession’ and therefore admission prices will increase. Movie entry will cost a teenager around $16 depending on the cinema and a popcorn and drink combo is about $12-$16. A ticket to see Justin Bieber or Beyoncé will also cost $100+ depending on seating. Going out for dinner will cost between $20-$30 depending on whether they choose to have a drink or dessert with their meal.

Mobile phones

If a teenager owns their own mobile phone, a pre-paid mobile and data plan will cost between $35 and $50 a month. Plans through the major carriers that include a handset start at around $60 a month, if they want enough data to access email and the Internet.


Having the latest piece of technology is a necessity for teenagers. Whether it be phones, iPods, laptops, tablets or gaming devices; if it’s new, they will know about it. These devices tend to be around $300+, so saving is essential. Additionally, if your kids download music legally, songs on iTunes cost $1.69 each.

Whether or not you pay for recurring needs such as phone bills and clothes, or get them to pay themselves with their allowance, is up to you. Every teenager will take pride in updating their wardrobe and unfortunately, it’s not a cheap hobby. If shopping with mum for clothes is no longer cool, you will need to trust them to make smart choices. The average price for a piece of clothing is about $30.

Being a teenager isn’t cheap. The prices of public transport, food, clothes and electronics all gradually accumulate. Being a teenager myself, I can’t express enough how important it is to obtain a part-time job. It will do wonders to their bank balance but will also provide them with experience that is priceless. When your child does get a part-time job, you can decrease the amount you give them per week so that they begin to feel financially independent, but depending on their weekly earnings, you may need to continue your financial support.

At a glance: typical weekly teenage spend


Item Spend per week
Transport $15
Food $25
Entertainment $20
Clothes $15
Phone $10
Total $85


Do you pay your teenager pocket money? How much? How much do they cover themselves through a part-time job?



  1. This is really quite eye-opening for me. My son is 9 so not a teen yet, but definitely starting to have pocket money and become more independent. I hadn’t ever added up how much money a teenager would require in a week before – it comes to quite a lot even without adding anything every expensive or fancy! I would definitely like him to get a casual job as soon as he is old enough – I think being part of the workforce teaches teens so many valuable life skills.
    lizzy allan – muddle-headed mamma recently posted..Backyard Birthday Treasure HuntMy Profile

  2. My eldest only gets $10 pocket money – but he earns $10 an hour babysitting. I pay his phone but if he wants tuckshop (I’m an old lady) or go to a movie with friends, then he pays. I pay if we go together, and he is too young for concerts without an adult, so I pay – we both like the same artists so he is covered there (and my friends aren’t dragged to see rappers, so for now, it’s win/win). We are just at the start of the independent teen biz, so we’ve got a great learning curve ahead.
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    • It changes all the time, as I’m sure you know. I remember paying $10 a week too (in fact, I think the auto payment is still set up – I must look into that!) and it was enough for a while. They were simpler times 🙂

  3. Wow, that’s a lot of money! My 14yo DS gets $10 a week! I do however pay his phone bill, and he has the possibility to earn more money if he wants it by doing extra jobs like washing the car, cleaning the bathrooms, folding washing, etc. Perhaps I am underpaying him, but it works for us.

    • As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke’…
      However, bear in mind this tally takes in items you might choose to pay for yourself, such as phone and clothes.

      • Yes, really I still pay for most things, but not for school treats or outings. He does also earn money for babysitting his younger sister.

  4. Wow it sure adds up! I remember when I got my first job I hard to start buying my own clothes and paying for everything I wanted to do, and I only earnt $25 a week. That was hard, but somehow it worked. I can’t imagine what we’re going to do when my kids are older
    EssentiallyJess recently posted..DifferentMy Profile

  5. I think a lot of those things listed are luxuries! I give my kids $15 a week. One has a part time job and pays for anything else required. One does not but will do extra chores for cash if needed. I buy basic clothes,shoes and food for lunches.
    Sonia @ Natural New Age Mum recently posted..Gardening with KidsMy Profile

    • I think the part time job has a lot going for it. We used to do extra chores for cash too, but for some reason the novelty wore off 🙂

  6. Our 14 yr old gets $10 a week, her phone is paid by us and she has a part time job at McDonalds. Thank goodness she does because bus fares, movies, clothes and food does add up quicker than I thought it would but it allows her to have a social life at least. She’s also saving for a car in a about 18 months so we’ll help her out there too. My son is only 10 and his major expense for us at the moment is food!
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    • And it’s only a fairly basic social life that we’re talking here – transport fares, a movie and some dinner. But … saving for a car!! That doesn’t seem to happen around where I live. I remember what a money pit my first couple of cars were.

  7. ZOMG! You know, I was just saying to Mr Surfer the other day that things are starting to really add up as the twinlets get older. But geez, $85 a week??!!!
    Do you think I can get some of that money back by making them do the dishes, take the garbage out AND cook dinner once a week ? 🙂
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  8. The best thing we did for Teen16 was cut off the money supply when he was 15… he works at McDonalds a couple of times a week and I generally don’t give him any money. Yes!! I do pay for his phone – he got a plan for a birthday pressie one year and it just lasted. And that’ll keep on with the other kids… get a job at 14 or 15 kids… we’re still buying clothes and spending a fortune on food/school/music fees etc etc but they will pay their way for their own spending.

    • There are so many benefits to having a part time job as a teenager. I couldn’t afford to keep my teen if she didn’t work as well 🙂

  9. My kids are not teens yet and they are not getting any allowances. Maybe I should keep that going till they are old enough to get a job.
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  10. I find this article crazy! My daughter doesn’t receive any weekly spending money.
    Of course this really depends on your kid. My daughter, bless her, is an avid saver.
    She only buys new clothes when she needs them, not just whenever fashion dictates, and somehow ends up in designer wear! I remember how proud she was when we found her two designer shirts (button-ups) for $7 each! My girl loves a bargain. She makes yearly budgets for herself, and is really into cost-benefit anaylsis.
    I reckon she’s gonna become a accountant, the way she loves saving. It’s not that she loves money, she loves Pokemon and AmericanGirl Dolls, neither of which are cheap.



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