Interesting new brain science behind charitable giving, inflationary tooth fairy payout statistics from VISA, and a Mom’s clever ideas for prepaid card usage topped the list of interesting family finance articles last week. Here’s the roundup with links for deeper reading:
Survival of the fittest! Darwins famous findings taught us that humans are hard-wired to out-compete others for the best mates and the most resources to perpetuate their genes to future generations. So why do we bother to help others? Is it just a Darwinian extension to help ensure survival of close kin or the broader tribe?
It appears to be more than that. According to new brain studies, it looks like we’re hard-wired not just for survival, but for altruism too. The bottom line: altruistic decisions give us a “buzz”. More scientifically speaking, fMRI data shows that the decision to donate to charity lights up the nucleus accumbens area of the brain which contains neurons that release the pleasure chemical dopamine.
Finally, a “drug” we don’t have to worry about our kids getting hooked on: charitable giving.
A recent VISA survey claims that the national average doled out by the tooth fairy is now $3.70 per tooth. Holy molar! That’s up 42% in just 2 years. Now there’s some serious inflation (assuming the survey methods are valid, of course). VISA even has an online Tooth Fairy calculator where you can see how much other parents of similar demographics are leaving their kids. After playing around with it a bit, I’m a little skeptical of the algorithm and the data set though. The numbers seem suspiciously round, and it feels like $1 is the default in edge cases where they might not have enough (or any) data.
When we last studied FamZoo tooth fairy data back in 2010 (see the detailed results here), we saw an average of $2.63 and a mode (the amount occurring most often) of $1. We like the mode!
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- A Clothing Card for your teen,
- A College Expense Card for your college-bound child
- An Online Card for your child to register with online services like iTunes (instead of using your card, and)
- A Travel/Vacation Card.
If you order the cards as part of a FamZoo family pack, you can set up separate allowances for each (e.g., a monthly or annual clothing allowance) or fund them via a split in an existing allowance (e.g., pull out 10% from your child’s regular allowance to help fund that trip to Disneyland next summer). Read Cecile’s article to see how she uses each card with her family.
We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks here. We’re up to 3,328 now!