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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FamilyMint Review

Sometimes education gets so focused on the 3 R's...and all the other things there are to learn...that life skills like money management are totally neglected. That's where FamilyMint comes in.

FamilyMint is an online FREE financial tracking system designed to teach kids how to be smart with their finances. Here are some of the highlights (direct from FamilyMint's website):
•Kids log in themselves and manage their own money within FamilyMint. From deposits, withdraws, and transfers, to working towards goals they can create themselves, FamilyMint is meant to be a place for children to learn by doing.
•To you and your kids, this is REAL MONEY in FamilyMint. They manage, you approve. Every dollar in the bank is a real dollar that you owe your kids. You are a real bank to them.
•In essence, when they hand you cash (i.e. when they make a “Deposit”), they are giving you a loan and you are in debt to them and need to pay back that debt when they ask for it (just like your bank would for you).
•To anyone outside your family, this is virtual money. Nobody can hack in and steal anything because FamilyMint is just a tracking system.
•FamilyMint is… a mixture between a personal money management tool (such as Quicken) and an online bank. There is a period of time that things can be changed, and after that they are firm (like an online bank). You can always see a complete history of what changed.

The Pros:
You can set up as many users as you need, and as a parent, you can view all your children's accounts from one screen or click on each one for more information. Kids can set goals to save toward, and through the new Savings Plan feature, kids can even use a virtual form of the "envelope system" to take their monthly income and compartmentalize it into their different spending/savings goals. Also, the program reinforces a lot of the money management advice from respected authorities like Dave Ramsey, and the blog has great idea about how to use their product to implement those ideas. And the program is FREE, so how can you go wrong?
The cons: We are not wealthy, and my kids don't get an allowance, nor do they have relatives giving them money, so for us, they have nothing to learn to manage.
The Bottom Line: It never occurred to me to set up their accounts with "virtual" money (not the way it's meant to be used, but could still work) and allow them to spend that "money" on goals around the house, like wii time, etc. I may investigate doing that, because I do think the program is easy to use, and really teaches kids how to save up for something and how to take the finite amount of money they have and make it stretch to meet their wants and needs. Since the program is FREE, you can't go wrong checking it out.
To see FamilyMint for yourself, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
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