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HAVING DAUGHTER HANDLE THE BILLS PROVIDES HER WITH A RICH LESSON

Dear Dr. Tightwad: I recently read a magazine article about electronic banking systems that will pay your bills for you. I have a different twist that I thought your readers might find of interest.

I am one of those old-fashioned people who still use a checkbook and pen - but I don't pay my own bills. I have my teenage daughter, Mary, do it.For several years, since Mary was 12, I have given her the bills and the checkbook and she does the rest: writes the checks, puts on account numbers, prepares the envelopes, etc. I do a quick review and sign the checks.

Mary actually finds this task fascinating, whereas I find it rather depressing. From this experience she not only acquires the skill of managing a checkbook but also gains a real sense of what it costs to run a household on a month-by-month basis.

Dear Dr. Tightwad: My 5-year-old is always cooking up moneymaking schemes. For example, he'll want to have his own yard sale or sell Kool-Aid to the neighbors.

I'm impressed by his initiative, but setting up his businesses sounds like a lot of work for me. How can I talk him out of his grand plans without breaking his entrepreneurial spirit?

Answer: Don't make a bigger deal out of your son's business ventures than he does. When you think "yard sale," you probably envision spending weeks cleaning out the basement and tagging items and then blowing a whole Saturday.

But your son sees a handful of old toys sitting on a card table (and after an hour or so he'll be ready to pack it in). Go along with him on a small scale and you'll both be happy.

Dr. T is acquainted with one 6-year-old who decided he'd raise money for a school project by making copies of storybooks on the family computer and selling them. Persuaded that his idea would be impractical - not to mention illegal - he settled for writing and selling a story of his own.

Mom had visions of sending of the manuscript to one of those see-your-book-in-print publishers for kids, or at the very least stapling together construction-paper covers. But Peter was satisfied when his sister helped him write a seven-line story on the computer ("The cat is white. The dog is brown. The cat and the dog are pals.")

He printed out a dozen or so copies and sold them for 10 cents each to reach his fund-raising goal - $1.