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ISSUING AN INVITATION ALSO MEANS OBLIGATION

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Dear Dr. Tightwad: My daughter was invited to her prom by a boy, but she offered to buy her own ticket (and he accepted) because she was afraid he couldn't afford it.

I think he should have paid. Am I old-fashioned?

Answer: Probably, but so is Dr. T.

The person who does the asking should pick up the tab.

Tell your daughter to save her money for group outings, when it's OK to go Dutch.

Dear Dr. Tightwad: I've been trying to teach my preschooler about money, but I'm not having much luck.

No matter how much money she has, whether it's coins or bills, she always says it's "$5." What am I doing wrong?

Answer: You're expecting too much.

Preschoolers are too young to understand the abstract value of money.

Your daughter will catch on as soon as she starts elementary school and learns that a nickel is worth less than a dime even though it's bigger, and a dollar bill is worth as much as four quarters.

Meanwhile, focus on teaching your daughter the concrete value of money.

Preschoolers learn quickly that money can be exchanged for other things, so let her put the coins in the vending machine, hand over the money to the ice-cream vendor or toss some change into the Salvation Army kettle.

Take her on a shopping spree to one of those stores where everything costs a dollar, and help her get the biggest bang for her buck.

Other money strategies that young kids can get a handle on:

- Use a plastic box or jar to encourage saving so kids can see the results of their efforts.

To children this age, your local bank branch may give great lollipops, but it swallows up their money for good.

- Make a game of it. Have a penny hunt, show the children how to flip a coin, demonstrate the fine art of spinning a quarter - anything that gets kids familiar with money.

Playing a board game such as Junior Monopoly will be fun for you, too, because it's shorter than the grown-up version.

- Don't panic when kids ask for everything they see on television. Often just talking about a commercial, or pointing out why the toy of the moment may not be as much fun as it appears, is enough to humor children until they forget all about it.

- Be honest. Respond in an age-appropriate way to questions kids ask (and expect younger siblings to catch on quicker).

Don't follow the example of a woman Dr. T witnessed recently in a bookstore.

The woman's daughter wanted a stuffed toy. To pacify the child, mom took the toy to the cash register as if she were going to buy it, but asked the clerk to hide it behind the counter "so I can tell her you forgot about it."

Hearing you say "No" will do a child more good than listening to a lengthy discourse on the value of a dollar.