Should You Pay Your Teen to Do Things?

You’re parenting a teen, and you’ve just had a fantastic idea for him or her. Something that could pay off in huge ways down the line. But your kid isn’t interested.

“Nah,” he says, scrunching up his nose and shaking his head. “Not gonna do that.” Meanwhile, he’s playing video games for hours each day.

What can you do to motivate your kid to read a book that will transform his 20’s, or fill out scholarship applications, or happily attend a one-morning college study skills class? Is it a good idea to pay your teen to do these things?

Is it wise to pay your teen to do things she refuses to do otherwise?

Yes, yes, YES.

Especially because you can do this while spending less money on your kid than you are right now. Try this entertaining strategy, one that other parents are using with great success.


How to pay your teen to do things, while spending less on him than you are right now.

 

1. Give your son a meager allowance.

Make sure it’s not quite enough to cover his bare minimum life expenses. Set up an automatic bank transfer so that this amount goes into his bank account reliably, every two weeks.

2. List for your son all the purchases this money will have to cover.

“Son, we’ll expect you to use this allowance money to buy all your own school lunches, cell phone service, clothes, shoes, gas, football fees, school activities, and all your personal spending.” Add anything else to this list you can think of.

3. Then, wait for an emergency.

Teenage son: “Mom! Prom tickets are only available through Friday, and I forgot to buy mine! Can you please lend me $150 until the 15th?”

Mom: “Oh no! You’re out of money and can’t afford prom tickets? That’s awful! Kaylee will be so disappointed if you have to call off prom. I’d say this calls for breaking into your emergency fund!”

Teenage son: “Mom, I, uh—I don’t have an emergency fund. I haven’t saved up for that yet. Could you please just lend me $150? Just until the 15th?”

Mom (genuinely sad for him and wanting to help): “Well, I can’t allow you to incur debt for that. We don’t believe in debt in this family. But how about this? I will pay you $25 for every hour you sit in the living room and read The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay! Or I’ll pay you $50 for every scholarship application you fill out in a quality manner. Or I’ll pay you $100 to attend a one-morning college success seminar with me! Look, here’s the description of it. It looks fantastic. What do you think?”

4. You can happily pay your teen to do these things, even if your income is low, for this reason.

The very meager allowance you’ve given him means that you’re currently paying far less for his weekly and monthly expenses than you were a year ago. You can use some of the money you’re saving to pay your teen to do the big things you want him to do.

5. And what if your child refuses to do the daily chores you’ve assigned? This system helps with that too.

When you discover a chore left undone after your child has gone to bed at night, just cheerfully do it yourself. When you finish, subtract $5.00 from your child’s meager allowance to compensate you for your time. Just remember to be empathetic and sad when you let your child know this the next day. As we learn in the very valuable book Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, nothing works without the empathy!

6. Consider starting this system soon after your child finishes 9th grade.

Do so, and you’ll allow your son or daughter to learn valuable money management skills that will pay off for decades into the future. You’ll have leverage you can use to motivate your teens to do things that will help their futures. You’ll free yourself from having to respond to whiny requests for money every day, because your reply to every request will be, “Sure! Sounds fun! If you’ve got enough money to pay for that, I’m all for it!”

If you’ve found valuable info in this article, please help me by tweeting it out to the people who follow you.

For more detailed information on this “pay your teen” strategy, read chapter 11 of my book:

It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.

You can see hundreds of reviews of this book on Amazon by going to:

bit.ly/burlowski

You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.

Subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter here. (You’ll especially want to do this so I can alert you to important FAFSA changes that will affect you in the future.)

Do you have very specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?

My TRIBE Members get the most direct access to me—while feeling good that the pennies per day they spend on the TRIBE help me bring debt-free college strategy to families who could never afford to pay for it. Join my TRIBE Membership waiting list here.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

This article was updated on March 27th, 2023.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Categories

Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski.

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

Almost there! Complete this form and

click the button below to get instant access.

 

Get my FREE article:
 
"THE EFFECTIVE COLLEGE VISIT: Questions to Get Answered Before the Day is Over"

Success! Check your email to find your free article. See you there!

Almost there! Complete this form and

click the button below to get instant access.

 

Get my FREE article:
 
"How to Give College Savings As Birthday Gifts and Get Happy Hugs in Response"

Success! Check your email to find your free article. See you there!