Are You Your Child’s A.T.M. ?


Kids always want extra money above and beyond their allowance, and it seems more parents are giving it to them.

A survey by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, conducted on its financial literacy site,, finds that today’s parents are “incredibly lenient” about handing their children extra money. The lesson that is being taught, the foundation warns, is one of immediate gratification rather than budgeting or financial discipline.

The survey asked children, ages 17 and younger, “How often did your parents say ‘O.K.’ when you asked for extra money beyond an allowance”; 63 percent answered “always” while 26 percent said “sometimes” and 6 percent said “never.” Only 5 percent of children said they had never asked.

And how does this compare with earlier generations? Among adults, ages 18 to 45, 12 percent agreed with the statements “I always got extra money beyond an allowance from my parents when I asked”; among adults ages 46 to 59, 8 percent agreed; among adults 60 and older, 13 percent agreed.

The reasons kids want this extra money appears to be changing, too. Today’s teens say they spend it on tickets to movies, concerts and sporting events (40 percent), food and drink (24 percent) and toys and games and phones (19 percent). Only 15 percent said they wanted something for school, compared with 47 percent of adults over 60 who gave education as their reason for asking for extra money when they were young.

It could be, of course, that memory and perception are in play here. But the numbers are dramatic enough to make you think about whether today’s parents open their wallets too easily and too often.

Kids can wear you down when it comes to what they want. For information on how to stay firm and develop a great money strategy for your kids. Click here.


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