How an allowance can prevent your teenager from breaking an iPhone – AGAIN!

What makes a great neighborhood party guest? The neighbor with the scoop on local gossip? A foodie willing to share the best new restaurant? A fellah with thoughts on how to keep kids from busting their pricey smartphones? Beyonce?

Although it may not sound like the Smartphone Savior would be a better party choice than the Queen B, you might be mistaken.

Picture the party scene…

A mom friend bemoaning her teenager’s latest phone disaster – the fourth in less than a year. Triple digit dollars down the drain. Again. Hope is lost.  Even if Beyonce were there (an impossibility at any party to which I was invited), this mom wouldn’t even notice.

But wait! The Smartphone Savior is here to ease the angst!

Is this a phone issue? A lack of understanding of the value of money? Or is it a lack of financial education for kids that is the culprit.

Now, before I continue, I recognize this as an undoubtedly first-world problem. Still, it’s one to which many of us can relate. We’re fortunate.

I sat with my friend and explained that my daughter had recently brought her phone to the beach. (This is apparently where good phones go to die). Tossing a phone 20 yards into a barely-opened backpack?  Yeah, that isn’t likely to end up well.

She came back with a shattered shell.

Distraught because her “hand-me-down” phone (one her parents gifted her) was toast, she pleaded for a new phone. Her attempts were short-lived.

Bringing Home Financial Education for Kids

Following six years of allowance, we had recently upgraded her to a “Big Time Allowance.” She was now responsible for her own clothes, birthday presents, lunches out with friends and larger savings goals for things she wants. Like a new phone. If she wanted to replace the broken one, she would have to shell out her own money this time.It was part of our financial education for our kids.

As with most parents, we think our daughter is preternaturally talented. She is, however, not extraordinary in her ability to deal with money. In fact, her money personality is like mine – impulsive (which I detailed in this post).

Allowance: A Tool for Financial Education for Kids

Putting an allowance plan in place from an early age has helped her learn about delayed gratification, understanding needs vs. wants and learning to progressively save for goals.

In short, she’s begun to get money-smart and money-comfortable.

Meanwhile, back at the party…

My friend decided – with a little help from yours truly – to put a starter allowance in place to help her daughter save for a new phone. Because a savings goal was new, her mom smartly agreed to cover half the cost of a new phone. We didn’t want the first dose of allowance to leave a bitter taste.

Here’s what my friend emailed a few weeks later:

“[She] took to the money system like a fish to water. LOVES it!”

It’s incredible how the things we fear so often give way to some of our greatest breakthroughs.


My younger daughter actually saved for and purchased her own iPhone a few months ago. She made sure the case arrived before the phone did and she has taken wonderful care of her new purchase. Having some serious skin in the game helped her better understand the value of her new smartphone.

I hope you’ll consider how an allowance helps with the financial education of your own kids.

John Lanza

John Lanza

John Lanza is the Chief Mammal of Snigglezoo Entertainment, and Creator of The Money Mammals. John created The Saving Money Is Fun Kids Club for credit unions nationwide and has ... Web: Details