Question - My 9-year-old daughter has trouble holding on to cash - literally. Last week she was going to a movie with a friend after school, so I gave her a $10 bill. Apparently she accidentally pulled the money out of her pocket while she was at school and lost it, so her friend's mother had to pay for the movie. I paid her back, of course, but it was embarrassing.
How can I make sure this doesn't happen again, short of cutting off my daughter until she's 23?
Answer - You probably can't. Your daughter is, after all, a kid, and kids are prone to bouts of carelessness and lapses in attention. Better that she learn her lessons now than when she's 23.
Your best bet to safeguard the cash is to lash it to one of your daughter's body parts - for example, in a Velcro pouch around her wrist, in a fanny pack or in a wallet or one of those funky keychains that attaches to her belt. That way she'll be less likely to pull it out when she reaches into her pocket for a tissue or a stick of gum.
Nothing is foolproof, however, so don't give your daughter more money than she'll need. And don't give her so much that you'll be upset if the money does happen to be misplaced. Kids themselves feel uncomfortable when they're entrusted with too much cash.
In the future, consider having your daughter use her own allowance to pay for movie engagements with friends. Then if the money happens to disappear, it will be her loss and not yours.
DEAR READERS: Here's a financial tip for parents whose kids may be going on a solo airline trip: If you're sending a child on a plane to visit Grandma and Grandpa for the holidays, look beyond the air-fare to compare costs.
Some airlines have doubled their surcharges for unaccompanied children under age 12. When the flight involves a connection, Northwest and Delta now add $60 each way to the cost of the ticket. So a low-priced ticket might not be such a bargain after you add $120 to the round-trip fare.
Most other airlines charge an extra $30 each way for connecting flights. Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways charge $30 each way when unaccompanied children take a nonstop flight. To avoid surcharges altogether, look for nonstop flights on Alaska Airlines, American, America West, Continental, Southwest and TWA.