Thursday, April 8, 2010

Family Mint Review


Do your children know how to manage their money?  I know my kids have a terrible time trying to save money and trying to spend it wisely when they are allowed to spend some.  Growing up, I never thought much about learning to manage my money.  My parents must not have thought much about teaching me to manage it either because I don't remember ever having a conversation with them about the importance of learning to save and spend wisely.  I'm sure they didn't purposely choose not to teach me to wisely handle my money.  I just don't think they ever thought about the need to teach me to handle money at all. 

A couple of years ago, I started giving my children a certain amount of money each day upon completion of their chores for that day.  I know some parents don't like to "pay" their children for doing regular chores around the house, and that's not what I meant to do either.  My aim was (and is) to allow my children to practice "going to work" and collecting their pay for it.  Once they got used to collecting their money and had saved up even a few dollars, they wanted to immediately go to the store and spend it.  All of it! 

I had been attempting to teach my children to save up their money in order to buy larger, more expensive items that they might want, but I had never come up with a really good system.  When I was introduced to Family Mint, I figured it was definitely worth trying out!

One of the best things about the Family Mint website is that it is FREE!  That made me even more certain that I wanted to try it out!  Basically, Family Mint is sort of like an online bank.  A parent (or an older child) can go to the website and set up an account for each child in the family.  Each child's account can be personalized with that child's name and a picture.  There are several icons to choose from, or you can upload your own picture.  We chose the easy route and used icons that were already provided.

After setting up each account, you can decide to have deposits automatically made to each account on a regular basis or to make deposits manually whenever you choose to do so.  If you give your children a weekly allowance, for example, you can set up the account so that the amount of the allowance is deposited each week without your having to remember to go to each child's account to add it.    If you want to put money in each child's account only when certain jobs are done or based on some other criteria, you can go in and add the money whenever your criteria have been met. 

You can also help your children set goals for their money.  My daughter, for example, wants to save her money to buy a Disney Princess Wii game.  The game is about $20.  We were able to create a graph showing how much money she needs to save to buy the game.  Then we made the line on the graph turn pink as she saves toward her goal.  (You can see the blue line on the graph in the photo below.)  I want my kids to have a "savings" category that they aren't allowed to spend.  I can make a "savings" category for each of them and made it a different color than the Wii game category. 


Another thing I like about the website is that, if my kids want to request to transfer money from one goal to another, I can either choose to approve it or not before the transfer is allowed to be made.  For example, if my son wants to transfer money from the savings category to the XBox game category, I can approve or deny his request.  There are also options such as matching deposits and paying the child interest (and I get to choose the amount) based on how much money is in the account. 

You can choose to use Family Mint as a teaching/learning tool and not actually use real money to back up the money in the "account," or you can keep the cash somewhere at home or even keep the money in a real bank to withdraw and give to the child once his goal is reached and you are ready to actually give him the money to spend.  That part is up to you.  Whichever way you choose to use the website, though, it could really be a great tool for teaching your children to wisely manage their money.

My children and I have really been enjoying using Family Mint.  I thought my older children would enjoy it, but I didn't realize my 7-year-old is old enough to understand and benefit from its use too.  All of my children are more motivated than ever to save money--especially when they can see their goal line stretching toward the goal they've set.  I like that I don't have to have cash to give them in hand each week when it is payment time.  I don't like to keep a lot of cash because I, like my children, am too tempted to spend it. 

Don't forget that you can go to the Family Mint website to see all of the features that are available and to read the frequently asked questions, etc.  If you would like to read what other Crew members have to say about Family Mint, you can do that   here.
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NOTE:  I was asked to use and review Family Mint for the purpose of writing this review for the TOS Homeschool Crew.  I received no compensation for writing this review. 

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