I actually do have a couple of mentions money-wise. It's now the end of the year, which means that you should read my blog entry from last year about getting your credit reports. Suffice it to say that there is one way that is actually free and a dozen ways that pretend to be free but will end up charging you a lot of money. So don't be stupid.
Next is a little discovery that Shelly and I found, and it's really only useful if you have kids. Paypal has a "student account" that you can get at https://student.paypal.com. Basically it's a sub-account of your own paypal account. It has its own login and password and it works very similarly to a standard paypal account, except that rather than link to an external bank account, it links to your own paypal account and it exists as a "child" of your account.
It's also got a few handy features:
1. You can set your "main" paypal account to make regular automatic payments into it, ala allowance.
2. You can get a debit card for it.
3. It's got parental controls, so you can decide if your kid can send and/or accept money without your permission.
4. You ultimately have control over the balance, so you can yank your kid's money right back outta the account if they're abusing the privilege.
And that's worked brilliantly for Maggie as far as teaching her to be responsible with money. We have it set so it'll deposit a few bucks for her allowance every Friday. She can (and does) go to paypal.com, log in, and check her balance whenever she wants. If she wants to buy something online, then she can talk to me and we'll buy it together (responsible parent that I am). And if she wants to buy something locally, then she can buy it with the debit card (which I keep in my wallet, thankyouverymuch).
And it's really doing the job of teaching her about money. For example, last week she found some "Silly Bands" (funny shaped rubber bands) at Wal Mart that she wanted, but she decided that it wasn't worth it because she was saving up for some better stuff and just spending her allowance on frivolous junk sets you back from getting something really cool.
It's also a good pride thing. A couple of months ago, she finally got enough cash to buy a Nintendo handheld. She'd been keeping an eye on prices, so she knew where they were cheapest and who had pink ones available. And you can bet she told everybody in the freakin' store that she'd been saving up and she was buying this expensive toy WITH HER OWN MONEY!
And it also helped on a recent trip to Disney. Rather than have her pestering me to buy T-shirts and toys when we got to Disney, I paypal-ed her a few extra dollars "vacation cash" and told her she could buy anything she wanted. And she did spend some time looking for exactly what she wanted.
And what did she end up getting?
Yep, a mouse-ear hat with her name embroidered on it.