An alligator got a hold of this. That’s what Carolyn Lee remembered thinking when she looked at one of her first paychecks and noticed the difference between her gross pay and take home.
Evidently, my recent column on the impact taxes can have on kids’ paychecks struck a chord with Lee and several other readers who shared similar payday experiences.
But that feedback was just a trickle compared to the comments received from readers on a variety of other topics about family finances and raising money-smart kids.
One of the favorite parts of my job is hearing from readers who have taken time to share their opinions and suggestions. Here’s a sample of my recent email, edited for clarity:
▪ On life insurance for kids: “It’s cheap and wise,” said Tom Stout. “The cheapest is to add a rider onto the parents’ policy for $5 per month, which gives $10,000 of coverage on all of the children till they turn 21. At 21, they can purchase up to $50,000 on themselves regardless of their health.”
Stout’s point: “If a parent can afford to, they should, for sure, provide life insurance on their children.”
▪ On tech tools for supervising teen drivers: Tim Hollister thought part of that column — in which I mentioned questioning your teen driver after a night behind the wheel — sent a “misdirected message” to parents.
“Supervision of teen drivers needs to occur before a teen gets behind the wheel,” said Hollister, author of “Not So Fast,” a book for parents of teen drivers. “The questions are not ‘Where did you go?’ and ‘Who else was in the car?’ but ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘Will you have any passengers, and if so, who are they?’”
And, Hollister concluded, “a teen spending a night behind the wheel is never a good idea.”
▪ On online banking: Several readers said they experienced situations similar to what I encountered in activating a new bank card and winding up on the receiving end of a string of automated shopping pitches for insurance, vacations and gift cards.
One reader described what happened when she used the phone to activate her bank card: “I was immediately met with phone ads about security systems, etc. … then (instructed) to use the number pad on the phone with a credit card number if you wanted to purchase something. I hung up and went to my local bank to have them activate the card and let them know in person what happened to me.
“The (bank) representative said this couldn’t have happened, dialed the phone-in activation number, got a puzzled look, and hung up and tried another number, this time getting through to the proper authority. From now on, for any bank activation, I’m going there in person again just to check out facial expressions.”
▪ On celebrities and financial smarts: “I remember many years ago my daughter wanted an American Girl doll,” said Kathy Levy. “It was rather expensive and though I could have just bought it for her, I told her that I wanted her to really think carefully and save (her) money. And when she had half the money for it, I would match the other half.
“She saved until she had enough … and that also gave her time to think about whether it was worth it,” said Levy. “She really loved that doll and still has it. But I also feel that she learned a lesson when I wouldn’t buy the doll outright. She has learneed to balance want versus need. I think the celebs might learn a lesson from this … or not!”