As a part of the TOS Crew, we were asked to review a money management website called Family Mint. This website is free for everyone to use, so no excuses there. (They plan to set up "pro" accounts in the future with more options available with paying membership.) This virtual "bank" doesn’t actually handle your money- you keep your money and choose where your money will be held (cash in envelopes, your real bank account, etc), but it is a way your children (under your supervision and direction) can "manage" their money by setting goals, being able to make deposits and withdrawals (through you as the banker), and seeing how much they can save in various categories they/you set up (general savings, college, charity/tithe, saving for something they want-etc.). The parent "Banker" can choose to deposit an allowance into the child’s account (monthly or weekly the account will automatically add the amount you set) with or without interest, and can match goals the child makes.
Initially I thought, "why not just open up an account in a real bank so they can begin earning real interest, making deposits and withdrawals of their real money?" But soon I began to see the value in them being able to sit down and set goals themselves, actually SEE how much money they have to save to reach a goal, (and SEE how much money it takes to go to college!!). This program can give kids a much better understanding of how important it is to set goals, and how hard it is to reach them sometimes. They can still have an account at a real bank, but actually manage the money by using Family Mint, if you’d like to do it that way.
I spent a few weeks really thinking about where we are and where we need to go with money management in our family. This year we have been greatly blessed by wonderful neighbors who have taken a huge interest in the girls, creating a contract with them, even giving them a business name (Cowgirls, Inc.), and are paying them to take care of thier ranch and cattle daily as they don’t actually live there except on weekends. This has added a whole new dimension to their lives, as now they have much more cold hard cash of their own to manage.
After watching the demonstration videos on how to set up the program, and how it works, I set up our bank, which I fondly named "Gunnshot Trust". Then I set up an account for each girl, uploading their own pictures. I will admit that it took me awhile to figure out what I really wanted to do next with the program. Do I require they give me their money to put into an envelope, and add their set allowance into the envelopes in cash? Do I even set an allowance, or continue to buy those extras as I see fit? Do we even worry about our REAL money at all, or should we just use Family Mint to "play" with imaginary money? Will I have the extra cash to give them when they request it? I spent the next couple of weeks just thinking about the many different facets of money management and setting goals for our family.
In going through the process of answering these questions and more, I could see LOTS of different ways families could utilize this program. For us, I decided to sit the girls down and discuss what I think we should do and get their ideas, based on the goals I had thought over.
After some discussion, they agreed that they wanted to keep the cash they are paid for their own jobs, giving me only "deposits" they wish to make in saving for specific things. I told them they would begin to receive "allowance" monthly from Daddy and I, with interest, so that when they want to buy something and don’t have the money with them, I can just pay and then deduct it from their accounts. They will need to keep track of how much money is in their accounts so they know whether they have enough to pay for what they are wanting. I haven’t "locked" any of their savings so far, I’m just letting them move around their savings as they see fit. I do feel that they are really beginning to see how money in the "real" world works.
I highly recommend this awesome program for families with kids of elementary age and up. I didn’t intially set up an account for my 4 year old, but since he just won $16.00 riding his horse in the church playday last week, I think I’ll go ahead and let him get started too. It’s never too young to get started learning about how to manage your money!
I created a free account on Family Mint website as a member of the TOS Crew for review purposes. No compensation was received, and opinions expressed here are my own.