As many of my readers know, I have four children. And it seems like every time we are out, someone is begging me to buy them something, usually followed by the words, "I'll pay you back." The thing is, my memory is horrible, and most of those "loans" become "gifts". So much so, that I have really put my foot down. When they ask for something, my normal response now is, "Do you have your money with you? I am NOT the First National Bank of Mommy." But now, FamilyMint offers another option.
FamilyMint began as a free, online money management system that allows you to teach children how to make deposits, withdrawals, and most importantly, save their money so that they can achieve their financial goals. I reviewed the Alpha version of FamilyMint in the past. They still offer that free service. But now, FamilyMint has expanded their offerings and gotten even better.
Now, in addition to the online component, FamilyMint also offers a Money Management Certification Program. It's "a complete step-by-step program for learning money management." This workbook offers detailed instruction for the parents as to how to use this program. It tells you exactly what to do. Then it has 4 chapters for the students to work through (you are allowed to copy the pages for children within your immediate family should you have multiple kids like I do). The chapters focus on Tracking Your Money, Goal Setting, Budgeting, and Interest. Each one has some basic financial vocabulary, and then wonderfully simple but effective instruction about the financial topic the chapter addresses. There are a few activities for the students to do in each chapter--things like filling out fake deposit slips and checks, choosing goals to save toward, or figuring out interest. The back of the book contains more checks, deposit slips, and goal tracking forms, as well as a code that gives you access to FamilyMint Premium online.
Before I tell you what the Premium version offers, let me tell you a little more about FamilyMint's money management program. Essentially, it does involve you becoming the First National Bank of Mommy (or Daddy), but unlike what always happened to us in the past, in this case you actually have their money in YOUR possession. Your child makes a deposit of their funds to you, and then, just like a real bank, they must give you deposit slips to deposit more money or write checks to make withdrawals. They learn to allocate funds toward things they want to buy using the popular "envelope system". Your students can learn to do all this without even going online at all, or they can track it all online via FamilyMint's website. As a parent, you approve their deposits and withdrawals, so you control the money, but they get to learn how to really be responsible for their spending and saving. Above, you can see my family's actual account. Each child has their own avatar or picture, and their own login. They can basically do "online banking" via their login, which allows them to make and see their transactions as well as how much they have saved toward each goal (see picture below).
Now that you know how the program works, here are my thoughts.
The pros: I balked in the past at being the bank because I didn't have their actual money in my possession, and never seemed to get paid back. This way, I have their money in advance of them seeking to spend it on anything. Setting goals helps them to learn delayed gratification--putting off that impulse buy in order to be able to get to their goal faster. I like that I can actually just deposit their money in our general account, because FamilyMint keeps track of how much each one has, and if I'm "cashing a check" for them, the most convenient way of doing that may well be via my debit card, especially at the local theme parks where I would worry about their money getting lost. We also have a perhaps unique situation in that one of my children has a total lack of impulse control when they find money around the house that doesn't belong to them, so this keeps the kids' money safe from their sibling too, which is a win-win for all of us.
The cons: The only con has nothing to do with FamilyMint's program--it is just developing the habit of using the program. I think it works brilliantly, but it's a different way of doing things from what we had been doing, and we are having to train ourselves to use it. I'm very visual, so once my children completed the Money Management Certification Program, I still kept FamilyMint on their school schedule, just for them to check whether they needed to make any deposits or withdrawals.
The bottom line: I think FamilyMint was good before, and it has definitely improved for the better. Adding the physical workbook component is a perfect way to allow students to work through the ideas of money management and learn the "hows" and "whys" behind it. We are definitely sticking with FamilyMint for the long haul. And, given that you can check it out online for free, there's no reason not to give it a try. But I'd definitely recommend the bundle with the workbook. It's well worth the money, to be sure.
So how much does it cost? You can purchase the bundle with the Money Management Certification Course and the Premium online version for LIFE for a special introductory price of $29.99. If you want to purchase additional workbooks, they are half off. Or, if you decide just to use the online component (which I wouldn't recommend--the workbook is worth it!), you can use the free version or the premium version. What's the difference? Check out the chart below:
Click to visit FamiyMint's website to read more about it. And be sure to visit the Mosaic Review Blog to see what my fellow reviewers had to say.