savings

What Kids Want to Know About Money

In part one of this two-part series, Janet Bodnar answers children's questions about allowances, cell phones and more.

Although this column is written primarily for parents, I also get plenty of feedback from children of all ages. And now we're answering those questions in Web videos. E-mail your kids' questions to us at moneysmartkids@kiplinger.com. Or make your child a Web star: Upload your own video to YouTube and send us the link.

What's on kids' minds when it comes to money? Allowances, cell phones and lazy siblings who neglect their chores, among other things.

ALLOWANCES

I am 13. How much should I get for my allowance? -- Wesley

Wesley, I'd start with a basic weekly allowance equal to half your age -- or $6.50 in your case. Your parents can raise that depending on what they expect you to pay for. And you can earn extra bucks by doing extra work for your family and your neighbors, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, watering plants, washing cars, etc.

CELL PHONES

When do you think kids should get cell phones? -- Amicka

When they're old enough to contribute to the cost (see Best Age for a Cell Phone).

BUDGETING

How do you save your money and not spend it? I usually can't do that. -- Peyton

Peyton, ask your Mom or Dad to hang on to a portion of your money (or put it in the bank) so you're not tempted to spend it. And save it for a goal, so you have something to look forward to.

Here's a tip from 12-year-old Karina: "I save up coins in a piggy bank. When it's filled up, I head to the grocery store, put all my coins into the machine and get cash back."

SIBLING SQUABBLES

My brother and I do basically all our sisters' chores for them. They don't do any work at all. Should we get paid for doing their work? -- Jennifer

I'm with you, Jennifer. If the arrangement in your family is that the kids are paid for doing chores, then the siblings who actually do the work should get the money.

I have a brother in the third grade who really doesn't like applying himself in school. My mother promises to reward him if he comes home with good grades and good behavior. But he has the worst attitude and demands a reward even if he hasn't been very good. If my mother refuses to give him one he gets so angry it's unbelievable. What should we do? -- Angelica

Angelica, your situation illustrates the pitfalls of trying to use money to influence behavior. At the very least, your Mom needs to stand her ground and not reward your brother's surly attitude. But it sounds like your family may need some outside counseling.

INVESTING (OR NOT)

What do you say to your 92-year-old dad when he decides it's time to sell all his investments and put the cash under his mattress? -- Bob

Considering what's happened in the markets over the past year, and that your 92-year-old father probably has a fairly short investing time frame, I'd say, "Go for it, Dad." (But maybe you could at least talk him into an insured bank account or CD. To find the best yields, see the yields and rates box on our Credit & Money Management page.

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