“Mom, Dad … I need an allowance.”
These are some of the hardest words to say if you are a high-school student looking at a parent across the table.
Why? Because you know what comes next.
You’ll soon be getting questions about your grades, how much time you hang out with friends, how late your curfew is, and what you did with that $30 they gave you last week. It’s a tough seat to be in, and I understand.
Here’s a few ways you can help yourself when it comes to this conversation.
1. Take on volunteer work.
Couldn’t you be helping out at the local animal shelter or community theater or tutoring center? It’s good for your work experience, for your college resume, and for your town. But volunteer jobs don’t pay you.
If you find a charity you care about and if you stay busy helping the cause, you may simply not have time to get a job. Telling your parents that you need an allowance to pay for basic expenses while you save the world is much more likely to get a positive response than wanting money just because you “need” it. Who could say no to a volunteer Superman, right?
2. Bring up your grades.
Your parents want you to do well in school. They really, really, really want you to do well in school! And they will often do whatever they can to make sure you get the best grades possible.
Explain how getting a job might put your grades at risk. But that also means your grades have to reflect that you are studying rather than working. If your grades are already good, you can try telling your parents that a little extra money would help you to blow off the pressures of high school (in healthy ways, of course).
3. Have a plan.
Parents don’t like dropping money down a dark hole.
Be able to explain your expenses - are you, for example, driving your younger brother to soccer practice or grabbing a pizza in between school and theater auditions? Are you sitting at home playing video games because you don’t have the cash to go camping with your friends?
Know your expenses and how much you need (and, hey, don’t go overboard here). And have a plan for how you’re going to manage your money. Are you going to save some of it? Give some of it to a good cause? Put some toward a summer program?
Tell your parents that an allowance will help you practice managing money in college (it should). Then get an online bank account and a spending app on your phone such as Mint to keep track of where that new allowance is going. Remember, parents like ideas that teach responsibility.