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Open a Kiddie Bank

Allowances at the Buckners of San Francisco used to be the usual kind. Every week Allie, 11, and Gigi, 5, would get cash that they'd stash, spend  -- or lose. Their dad, Peter, wanted to come up with a way to make their allowance better, so he founded the Bank of Dad, with Allie as his first client.

The bank is a spreadsheet on his computer. Allie and her dad record her allowance there every week, but she doesn't receive the actual cash. For spending money, she writes a check to the Bank of Dad using an old checkbook from one of her parents' closed accounts. This helps her keep better track of what she's spending, and she's realized that it's not always worth it to deduct money she's just going to spend on snacks at school. She's learning math and money management.

Buckner is expanding his bank by starting an account for Gigi and a savings incentive plan for Allie (5 percent interest on money in her account at the end of the month)  -- and he may offer loans for big purchases.

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