Birthday Party With a Twist


Birthday Party With a Twist

One reader uses a fun game to teach the guests at her daughter's party a lesson about budgeting.

Do you have room for another story about a different kind of birthday party? I agree that parties have gotten out of hand. For my daughter's 11th birthday, I divided the guests into three groups of three girls each. I gave each group $50, plus the following handout:

"Congratulations! You are the proud but poor parents of Bobby, 12; Christi, 8; Jimmy, 7; and little Anna, 9 months. Unfortunately, they were all born on March 20, and they all need birthday gifts.

"Bobby is a sports nut who likes practical jokes. Christi likes art and school. Jimmy needs help with reading. Anna needs all the help she can get to get off to a good start. They all need good ways to exercise, because they spend too much time watching TV.

"You have only $50 to spend on their birthday gifts, and one hour to shop before you have to go back to work.


"Your job is to purchase at least one gift for each child. These should include as many of the following categories as possible: learning toy; book; art supplies; board game; music; stuffed animal; clothing; blanket for cuddling; toy for physical activity; doll or action figure.

"The group that purchases the most quality items for the most children wins."

After one hour, we all got together in the mall food court for birthday cake, and each group presented its presents for each imaginary child. We then drove to a women's shelter and donated the gifts.

The party taught the girls how to think like adults and make the same hard choices parents make when spending on a budget. And they had fun.


P.S. I kept the receipts and got a $150 tax deduction.

I always have room for one more story about a different kind of birthday party -- especially when the stories are as creative as yours and the others I've received. Keep them coming!

Custodial accounts

I have a custodial account for each of my children, but they have appreciated at different rates. Under IRS rules, can I redistribute the money to even out the accounts?

Sorry, no. Money in a custodial account belongs to the child, not to you, so you can't take money from one account and put it into another.

If you want all the accounts to be equal, you could "top up" the ones that have lost value and then switch all of them to the same investment.