The nature of giving allowance to children is changing with the times but slowly. A new study from Junior Achievement USA, the world’s largest teen-finance education organization, examines how the dynamic of parent/child allowance distribution is evolving. The results of this study could help prepare you to talk to your kids about money while exposing you to alternative money-transfer methods that could streamline the process, provide accountability and help you use a child’s allowance as a lesson in financial responsibility.
Cash is still king. According to the study, which polled 1,000 American teens, 80% of young people who receive money from their parents still get it in the form of cash. That, however, means that one teen in five receives a digital allowance, such as funds being electronically transferred to a checking account.
Some families are using emerging alternatives. Only about 10% of respondents use Venmo or other popular peer-to-peer money-transfer apps to receive cash from their parents, but that might be because Mom and Dad aren’t privy to the new tech. About half of kids surveyed (48%) reported using mobile apps for budgeting and planning purposes. Of the young people who have bank accounts, 62% have debit cards, but only 18% use a checkbook. About one in three don’t have a bank account at all. In fact, 17% of respondents have never even been inside of a bank.
Credit cards are more common—and could provide a good learning experience. Nearly one in four respondents (23%) reported using their parents’ credit cards, particularly for online purchases. This squares with a separate report from T. Rowe Price, which said that nearly one in five parents give their children access to credit, even though kids under 18 can’t legally obtain it on their own. That means about 20% of parents either lend their children their credit cards or give them their own cards as authorized users on the parents’ accounts. In profiling that study, The New York Times interviewed an expert from Junior Achievement USA who said the trend could be a good thing. The logic is that issuing credit cards gives parents an excellent opportunity to teach their children—in real-time with real bills, real statements and real accumulated interest—the difference between making purchases with cash or debit cards and buying things on credit.