How Much Rent Should Teens Pay?

Teenage boy (16-17) lying on sofa and listening to music
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Does this situation sound familiar?

"My son's almost 19. He's dropping out of college near the end of his freshman year. He was told that as long as he was in school, he'd not be charged room & board. Now he's quitting school, has a job at $8.50 an hour cooking for a steakhouse and working full time. That's about $340 a week gross, about $272 net, and about $1088 a month net. Can anyone provide some insight on charging him room & board, i.e. do I charge a percentage or what would be fair? He's my son and I don't mind feeding him and helping him out, but I feel it doesn't help him to not charge him room & board because in the real world things just aren't that simple and easy. I want him to get an idea of what it'll be like when he gets his own place and has to pay rent, food, utilities, clothing, haircuts, etc--all out of his own money, which until recently his mother and I have taken care of. So, if someone can find the time, please advise on how much or how my wife and I should go about charging our 19-year-old son for room and board."

One Room and Board Strategy

You're absolutely correct. The real world isn't that simple and easy and he needs a dose of what it costs to live. You've done a great job at thinking this through, but I have a few additional questions: What are his car or other expenses? Has he learned to pay bills? Has he learned to save?

I'm going to assume that he pockets the $272 for my answer, but you may need to adjust if he is, for example, paying out car insurance. I would take up to $150 per week, with $100 being a forced savings that he knows about and $50 being room and board. The $100 can be used upon your approval for a car, apartment, etc. The $50 is up to your family's financial situation. If you need the money, by all means, use it. He is an adult and you do not have to foot the bill for all of an adult's expenses. But if you can afford to save it, you can gift him with things like furniture, grocery gift cards, etc. when he moves out.