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How did I get here, my friend? I haven't read a fribble in years, so why did I choose to look today? I always enjoy reading whatever you write wherever I find it, so I'm glad to find it -- even in this usually vapid place.

Your message made me think again about children and money. All three of our kids have an allowance equal to one dollar less per week than their current grade in school. It is not tied to work around the house and yard because that work is a part of their responsibility as members of the family, not a job for pay. The allowance is also not for essentials, which we buy. The allowance is theirs, and it is part of our teaching and their learning about money.

Because he has a longer view of life, our 14-year-old is more of a saver and he has over twice the amount in his savings account as his brother who is only 18 months younger. The older son imagines a car on the near horizon, but that longer view is being tested by his realization of greater immediate wants as his tastes mature with him. Our younger son seizes each moment and wrings from it all the joy or anguish it contains. He is more of a consumer, although that is changing a bit as he sees and understands the difference in the two account balances and realizes that the future is approaching more quickly than he had assumed. Our 8-year-old daughter, on the other hand, has already saved more than 3/4 of the middle child's amount and believes that she now has room to spend more to satisfy her blossoming interest in all things equine. Tomorrow is still just another day far away. They are aware that we also save for them in mutual fund accounts with purchases automatically funded each month out of our checking account -- as they are aware that we save for ourselves both automatically (maximum 401(k) deduction) and consciously (plain savings, CD's, taxable stock gambling account). We carry no debt but a mortgage that was originally just under 80% of our purchase price.

But savings is only half of the financial equation for them and for us, so we are also teaching our children spending. I know that you know this balance, but many others seem either unaware or forgetful. Unless there is living in the LBYM then there is no meaning to the means. Children must learn to spend money without regret for the loss of a meaningless medium of exhange even when it is exchanged for something that may be of no lasting tangible value -- something that brings nothing more than a smile now and a memory later. So, when there is a choice between the plain and inexpensive flounder or the delicious softshell crabs that are more dear, choose the crabs and take delight in the spending of my money well. They watch everything, and, while they learn reasonable prudence, they must not learn the unhappy penuriousness of a miser whose only friends are the coins clutched in his pockets, whose only joy is the enlargement of wealth at the cost of his shrinking soul.

So much for my succinctness which earlier caused you concern.

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