Clothing allowance — when, and how much to give?

A few months ago we started giving Sara a clothing allowance. She is now 15 years old, and it seemed appropriate to start giving her some financial independence and ownership of her choices concerning style and fashion. With the decision of giving her ‘clothing money’, as we say here in The Netherlands, came the immediate challenge of determining the right monthly amount, and the agreement of what sort of clothes she would buy herself and what items we would still pay for. I had no idea!

So I consulted two of my friends, mothers of Sara’s best friends, who already give their 15 year olds clothing money and who are much more sensible and prudent when it comes to financial affairs than I am ;). Both told me they give their girls an allowance of 75 euro per month, which includes pocket money and excludes the purchase of winter coats, bras and sport/gym clothes. This amount was derived from the ‘Nibud‘, a Dutch independent non-profit which advises and informs about household finances.

According to this organisation, research shows that for children ages 12 and up, ALL clothing (including socks, underwear and a winter coat) costs 56 euro per month. On average, teenagers (independent of their age) receive around 50 euro per month as a clothing allowance, and most of the time this excludes items like sports- and/or swimwear. So settling on a budget of 50 euro monthly for clothing seemed fair.

clothing allowance teenager

We also decided to start giving Sara regular pocket money. (Beforehand, we would just transfer some money to her bank account every now and then.) Consulting Nibud again, I found out that 15-year-olds in the Netherlands receive between 22,- and 30,- euro of pocket money per month. Adding that to the 50 euro clothing allowance, we arrived at 75 euro per month just like her friends.

We pay her the amount in the beginning of the month on her bank account, and we decided that she would pay herself for everything except necessary shoes (so not the fun and fashionable extra ones), necessary coats, and necessary sportswear. So for example, Sara really would love a new horse riding helmet, but the one she uses (my old one) is still functional. So I’m not buying this for her — she can save for one or wait till Christmas or her birthday. But if for the winter she needs a pair of sturdy, warm shoes, this is something we would help her with.

It’s been really nice to see her independence and I must say she is shopping in a conscious way — she doesn’t over-consume at all. She loves buying second hand clothes, sometimes cutting off parts to create fun crop tops or shorts. She creatively combines clothes in different ways and uses accessories like scarves and belts to revamp older, ‘boring’ clothes. (And she also knows the way to my wardrobe, haha!)

If she buys something new, she considers it carefully first (often still consulting me, which feels nice). She looks at the washing label and checks if the fabric is natural, preferably organic — choosing quality over quantity. She also has asked me to show her how to mend things, which I highly appreciate as I love giving clothes a second live. It shows me that now she recognises the value of clothing even more than before!

Tell me, do you have teenagers and do they get pocket money and/or a clothing allowance? Did you get clothing money when you were a teenager? (I did, but I must admit I always missed the seasonal trips to town with my mum!)

xxx Esther

PS Teenagers and resisting fast fashion


Comments (12)

September 17, 2020

So interesting to hear what a “normal allowance” is in another culture. This sounds like a huge sum to me at the moment (as a Canadian with kids under 10) to give out with no strings attached. That said, when I was about 14 my parents gave me a “yearly” allowance that was about similar total and didn’t include things like winter coats/boots but did include all other clothes/makeup/entertainment. However I had to budget it and keep track so we could go over together how the money was spent. Having it yearly was such a good lesson in how what sounds like a lot of money can so quickly be spent on what are individually small purchases. My kids are still too young for this type of allowance but I think it’s important to give them the tools to learn how to manage money. Many of my friends think money should only be earned (like with chores or a part time job when older) but I think earning money is a separate skill from managing money and allowance is just like providing sports equipment or a musical instrument for lessons. It’s the tool needed to practice the skill.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 21, 2020

I agree with that! I guess you can also choose to pay your children for doing chores, and not give them an allowance, it’s just a different approach. I chose not to pay my kids for chores, as for me, it’s important for them to understand that helping with household chores or babysitting younger siblings etc. is something they should ‘naturally’ do — without financial enticement. And yes, that monthly amount sounded like a lot of money to me too, but it is the standard average here!

September 17, 2020

In Sweden the government gives parents a payment every month per child. It’s not enough for anything really, but a help. At the moment the amount is €100. In my, privileged, community teens get 75-100% of that amount to use for clothes, doing things with friends, concerts, tickets etc. I was given it when I was young and now when I have my own income I think it is a bit absurd, it’s a much bigger sum than I use for all those things every month on myself today. I mean, I think I bought clothes for €300 last year.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 21, 2020

I thought it sounded like a lot too! But apparently, it’s not so much when you really add everything together. Also, they really are just starting a wardrobe — they are still growing! — so they might need to shop a bit more than an adult, who already has had the time to create a capsule collection of evergreens… x

Nomi Olsthoorn
September 18, 2020

I used to get my clothing allowance per three months (after the child benefit had come in I’m sure) and then be able to budget across months for larger items such as winter coats etc too.

September 18, 2020

I love this article! I used to get pocket money as well, and I saved every penny! I could never get myself to buy anything when I went shopping with my friends who seemed to need new clothes weekly. I saved up to afford a year abroad in California and bought a used car with my saved money.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 21, 2020

How cool is that!!! xx

September 19, 2020

When I was a teenager in high school, my parents would give me a $100 to shop for school clothes. That sounds like a lot of money, right? But if you want cool jeans or the newest Nikes, it didn’t get you far so I had to learn to save money and use it for what I knew my parents wouldn’t buy me. However, we had a pretty strict dress code and my parents would never allow me to wear mini skirts, crop tops or even cut off shorts outside of the house so I didn’t bother buying those. I wonder how you go about enforcing a dress code with Sara? Or do you not even mind?

Esther in Amsterdam
September 21, 2020

I do, and I have done my best to teach her what is right, according to my values, and what is not. But now, at her age, she should be able to express herself. Of course, sometimes I do think something about a certain outfit, but I try not to say something unless it’s really out of bounds. But overall I actually think she has a really cute style… (And crop tops are acceptable, but only if they are not too cropped and worn with a super high rise! 😉 )

Rebecca (Tory) Taormina
September 27, 2020

I wonder when the allowance would end. For example, I have a friend with a two children ages 22 and 26 and they (the parents) are still paying the children’s rents and giving them living money and supporting them although one has graduated college. I think maybe giving them spending money each month could also set them up for getting used to receiving g money from their parents consistently. It would be a loud awakening to suddenly just stop doing that. At what age would we think that this period of giving them monthly income would end?

Esther in Amsterdam
September 28, 2020

22 and 26?? Wow. Well, the monthly allowance comes to an end when the child starts college and is then replaced by a monthly college allowance, which will help with rent, food, clothing etc. during this period. And which will obviously stop once the child has finished college and found a job!

Nina Justin
November 11, 2020

Camilla (14) received 20 euros pocket money since she was 11. We increased it to 30 euros per month since she turned 14. She works (organising craft activities at younger kids party and as a mother’s helper – teaching younger kids to read and playing with them, also as a coaching to a 6 year old hockey team) for extra pocket money. She also resell her old clothes which she doesn’t wear anymore on online second hand markets so she could buy new ones. Just since the last summer, we started giving her 50euros per month, clothing allowances. That doesn’t cover big ticket items (winter jackets, shoes etc). She seems very frugal with her own dosh by ransacking my wardrobe instead of purchasing what she needs for herself :))

Leave a Comment