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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#11)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous 7 days and post them here.

There were a ton of excellent articles over the past 7 days — nothing like back-to-school time to get families focused on kids and finances. Here are our top 3 family finance articles culled from around the Internet last week:

Do What You Love — Damn the Economics
by Dan Kadlec
on The Bank of Dad column for CBS Money Watch

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Photo by Colin B

I’m a huge fan of the sentiment expressed in Dan’s article: follow your passions not the money, and good things will happen — often in ways you never could have imagined.

Just be sure you learn to live within your means along the way.

Consider my oldest son’s experiences with his off-the-beaten-path passion for fixed gear trick biking. Cynics dismiss this as a meaningless pursuit. But here are just a sampling of the wonderful opportunities, lessons, and rewards he’s encountered along the way:

  • Learning what it takes to prepare for and excel in competition. Discipline, determination, focus, passion, just plain hard work — all those good qualities.
  • A peek into the business side of biking through his sponsorships with bike manufacturers. How to conduct himself professionally in business relationships — even when they go south.
  • A wonderful summer job with a bike bag manufacturer - Rickshaw Bagworks (of course, it helped that Uncle Mark is the owner, but my son’s knowledge and zeal for biking made him a valued contributor and someone they were more than happy to put in front of customers).
  • Admittance to his college of choice. I can’t completely prove this, but I believe that my son’s unique trick biking video submissions on his college application had a lot to do with him being accepted to his college of choice. Who’d a thunk it!

Pic20100817 016Last week, my son headed off to college to study his other passion: Philosophy. Am I disappointed that he isn’t focusing on something more “practical”? Not a chance!

Just proud.

Can’t wait to see where his passions will lead him next.

The Friday Podcast: Allowance, Taxes And Potty Training
with Joshua Gans and his daughter
on NPR

Skip to the 7min 55sec mark in this NPR Planet Money podcast to hear economist Joshua Gans explain his experiences with "inter-generational transfer payments" (that’s economist-speak for "allowances").

Joshua relates several entertaining stories around his experiments with allowance incentive systems within his own family. Listen to the segment to hear about his sinister exploitation of purchasing control to enforce dress codes, the 100% "health tax" on candy, the grandma candy “leakage” effect, and how the relationship between kids and parents mirror the relationship between bankers and regulators.

You can also read Joshua’s follow up comments to the podcast in his blog post here.

How to Set Your Child’s Allowance
by Jennifer Saranow Schultz
on The New York Times Bucks Blog

Not only does this article feature a FamZoo competitor, but I also think the recommended approach for setting the amount of your child’s allowance is pretty darn goofy.

So why did this article make our pick-of-the-week list?

I think the comments (excluding mine of course!) are fascinating. They point out the incredible diversity of thought around how to handle teaching kids about money. Read through them. To me, the comments underscore how important it is for FamZoo to supply parents with a flexible set of tools. There are a lot of right answers. Use the tools and techniques that work best for your family, your situation, your values.

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