Monday, March 26, 2007

MARCH 26, 2007

An allowance can be an excellent tool for teaching children how to manage their own money with confidence and self-discipline. The trick is to figure out an allowance system that will teach your child important money lessons at a young age without sacrificing your sanity.

1. Think about when to start. Some money experts say an allowance, and accompanying conversations about money, should begin as soon as a child is old enough to stop swallowing money – say 3 or 4. Others say a greater level of maturity might be needed, so it might be wise to wait until around age 8. Again, you know your child better than anyone, so you’re uniquely qualified to make the call about when he or she is ready to handle a regular allowance.

2. Talk a whole bunch before handing over any cash. If many adults find it easy to spend most of the money they get, imagine how challenging money management could be for a kid. Before launching into any kind of an allowance system, talk with children about saving, investing and donating as well as spending. Help them understand that money allows them to set goals and make important choices.

3. Consider a transparent piggy bank. Sure, porcelain piggy banks with one little slot are adorable — but imagine how much a kid could learn with a see-through, four-chambered piggy bank that helps them think hard about how to allocate their funds. Illinois-based Money Savvy Generation makes the Money Savvy Pig, which includes places for kids to stash cash in a “save” category, a “spend” category, a “donate” category and an “invest” category.

4. Break it down – in cash. Give children four quarters instead of a dollar bill. They may be more likely to save, donate or invest a portion of their allowance if they receive it in small denominations. Even as children get older, continue paying them in cash. The easiest way for them to understand the real value of money — as opposed to the abstract universe of debit and credit — is to deal with actual coins and currency. They’ll remember how it feels to watch it accumulate, and to watch it go away.

5. Be pragmatic about payday. Give the allowance on a Sunday night or some other time when the child can’t rush out and spend all the money.

6. Assign responsibilities. Even young children can use a portion of their allowance to pay for some items they want or need, such as candy or school supplies. Increase their financial responsibilities as they get older, and agree on a fair allowance amount together based on the deal you strike.

7. Don’t interfere or bail them out. With the exception of agreed-upon fixed expenses, give children control over what they do with their allowance money. Let them learn from their spending mistakes while they’re young and the stakes aren’t too high. Teach them that resources are limited and that they need to distinguish between wants and needs, even if they have overspent their allowance and then want something else.

8. Don’t use the allowance as a disciplinary tool. The allowance generally should not be tied to behavior. If a child misbehaves, opt for another form of discipline rather than withholding allowance money.

9. Beware of the chore connection. Be careful about linking the allowance to chores you expect the child to do as a member of the family. Otherwise, your child could start asking, “How much?” every time you ask him or her to do something. However, parents and children can discuss pay for extra jobs, such as mowing the lawn or washing the car, especially if the child is saving for a big or special item.

10. Neither a borrower nor a lender be. But if you do decide to give an advance, consider lending with interest charges. The child will quickly learn how expensive it can be to borrow money.

In case you haven't heard, last Friday, Menu Foods, a pet food company out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, announced that tens of millions of cans of their food may contain RAT POISON. At least sixteen dogs and cats are already dead from ingesting it.

They've announced a recall of 60 million cans and pouches of food. . . you can check online to make sure if you've got the tainted brands, you get them far away from your dog or cat.

All of the tainted food was packaged between December 3rd and March 6th. Paul Henderson, the CEO of Menu, is blaming some wheat gluten that his company bought from China.

It contained a chemical which is highly toxic and causes kidney failure in animals.

Several lawsuits have already been filed against Menu Foods. They supply food to tons of stores around the country, including Wal-Mart.

With all the hub-bub over the pet food recall, here's how to make sure the food you're feeding the people in your family is safe.

*Keep it loose! Buy loose produce rather than packaged produce. Then, you'll have control over picking what looks the best.

*Double wash! Even if the packaging on vegetables says it's "triple-washed"... wash the vegetables anyway. All that washing is done pre-packaging, and there are contaminants vegetables can pick up during that process.

*Buy milk in the smart container! Buy your milk in cardboard boxes (like the half-gallon size). When you get your milk in a glass bottle, or even the gallon size, containers which allow yout o see your milk can spoil easier because of its access to light. Also, always check the expiration date.

*Wash the fruits most of us don't! There are germs that can be found on the peels of oranges, bananas, grapefruits and melons... People assume because you don't eat the peels, you don't have to wash them... big mistake!

*Give chicken extra attention! Keep chicken away from other foods while storing, so juices don't leak out, and always make sure you refrigerate it, and cook it to at least 165 degrees. Plus, sanitize your cutting boards by washing them in the dishwasher.

*Clean the outside of cans, bottles, and openers! Don't take a can of soda out of the fridge and drink it without washing the top. Also, wash your can opener since it touches the dirty tops of cans.