Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Family



Like many (all?) mothers out there, I’m pretty careful when it comes to our budget. Granted, things sometimes don’t work out on paper but I do my best to s-t-r-e-t-c-h every last dollar my husband and I earn.

And while my children receive a healthy allowance from their grandparents every month (for doing *nothing*, I might add), they aren’t yet as careful with their money as I’d like. Meaning they generally blow it at Starbucks or in the candy aisle at the grocery store. {Ahem} Granted, they have each saved up for something special in the past but it’s a rare occurrence.

As part of the TOS Crew, I was provided with a free membership to a handy online tool that helps teach kids the value of money: Family Mint.

Family Mint is a free online money management service that turns parents into official family bankers and the children into respected bank customers.

ParentHomepage Parents begin by setting up their child’s virtual bank accounts through the Parent Homepage. (I should mention that even though the money is virtual, Family Mint stresses that children give their parents “real” money (like their allowance) for them to hold and keep track of via the website. Doing this allows children to really experience the full spectrum of their spending and saving habits.)

Once the accounts are set up, children then decide what their financial goals are, both long and short term. Are they saving up for a new bike, laptop or iPod? Are they saving for college tuition?

Once the goals are determined and the money “deposited”, a bar graph (on the Child’s Interface) displays how far the child has to go to reach their goals. Goals This provides a super handy visual, which is perfect for non-readers.

Money can be deposited, withdrawn or transferred between accounts, with the final decisions for each of these transactions resting in the hands of the Banker. Parents also have the option of setting up automatic allowance deposits, offer matching deposits, and even set interest rates.

When it’s time to make a withdrawal, children go to their parents and receive their payout. (Cha-ching!)

My Opinion

While I found Family Mint to be incredibly user-friendly and an all-around useful tool, I didn’t care for having to actually keep track of my children’s money with it. I’d rather they held onto it themselves (in a wallet or piggy bank) or in their own “real” bank accounts.

I found keeping the transactions and cash separate from one another a bit tricky. For example, one child wanted to transfer $2 of her $20 bill, which was fine. But then I had to remember to break her $20 when the time came to “cash out”. To me, this was just one little detail I didn’t want to deal with. I would rather deposit the money in an account and transfer it electronically. :) Does this make me lazy? Perhaps.

However, I definitely feel that Family Mint has a place both in and outside the homeschool community. In fact, I can see my friends who are huge fans of Dave Ramsey doing the Snoopy dance over it. :)

So if you don’t already have a money management tool in place for your children, Family Mint would be worth checking out.

Family Mint is available for free by visiting Family A paid version is currently in the works.

To read what my fellow Crew members had to say about this product, please click here

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