02/25/2011 05:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Week's HuffPost Family Dinner Download: Managing Our Money

In her new cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

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The headlines this week are dominated by stories of financially dire situations around the country caused in large part by mismanagement of money. Providence, Rhode Island, facing a $40 million budget shortfall, took the drastic step of issuing pink slips to all 1,926 of its public school teachers, giving the school board "the right to dismiss teachers as necessary."

Many other states are facing serious budget shortfalls, most prominently in Wisconsin, where the governor is using the prospect of a crisis to pursue controversial ends. Other states across the country are faced with similar budget hurdles, and in many instances their governors are talking to their public employees groups -- whose salaries are a significant portion of state budgets -- to work together, openly, to address their mutual shortfalls.

In many instances around the country, grownups in charge of state budgets have saved poorly and spent more money than they actually had. Can you name some of the things that the state, and our taxes pay for? What services do you think should be cut and why? Do you get an allowance? Is the allowance a payment for chores or responsibilities? How do you manage your allowance -- how much do you spend or save? If you do get an allowance and your parents needed to modify it to make room for rising expenses, would you be willing to compromise on the specifics with them? What do you think is a fair weekly allowance?

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To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

Subscribe to receive HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads by email every Friday afternoon.

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt (