"Mom, can I buy this Lego kit?"
"Umm, I don't know. Didn't you just buy another Lego kit? Do you have any money left?"
"I don't know, but now I really want this one!"
Sound familiar?! This is a conversation I was having on a regular basis with my two oldest boys. I'd find myself annoyed that they were constantly asking to buy more Legos. Not that I have anything against Legos. In fact, I think Legos are terrific! But, oh my, it seemed that they were relentlessly intent on spending every penny in their piggy banks.
So, when I was given the opportunity to review FamilyMint, a money management program designed for kids aged 10 and up, I jumped at the chance!
I received the Money Management Certification Workbook in the mail and a subscription to the online application. I knew from my first quick glance at the workbook that this would be a great resource to help teach our boys the basic principles of money management.
We started with the hands-on workbook which is a tool you can use exclusively without the need for the online application. But more on that later... The workbook is fun and easy to use providing simple explanations of main concepts, vocabulary, and my boys' favorite, fun money facts. Older teens could potentially work through the book independently while the younger crowd would benefit from working alongside a parent.
Through the workbook chapters, my boys were able to learn how to:
(1) Track their money by recording income and expenses, learning how to write checks and deposit slips, and keeping a register
(2) Set SMART goals based on their personal desires and make them manageable and achievable
(3) Create a budget to accomplish the goals they set
(4) Earn interest to watch their savings grow
Our boys do not receive a regular allowance, but to maximize their experience with FamilyMint we thought of a few ways they could earn money on a weekly basis. Our caveat to receiving their allowance was that they had to give a weekly tithe back to the the Lord (10% of each week's earnings), and choose one charity to donate to at the end of the program (whatever amount they felt good about).
I found it interesting, as the boys were creating their budgets and goals, how much they struggled to "make ends meet" trying to balance their desire for things vs. savings vs. the charitable donations we required of them. Besides learning principles of money management, the boys are developing character qualities that will define who they are for the rest of their lives. This combination is priceless.
Once we completed the workbook pages, we gathered the boy's money banks (mason jars!) and set up their secure online accounts. As I stated before, FamilyMint can be used without the online application but I believe parents would be doing a disservice to their children by not using this part of the program given today's culture of online banking and bill payments along with debit card use. I found the online application to be necessary and relevant as our boys rarely see my husband or me using cash or checks.
The online application was extremely easy to set up and use. It is essentially an electronic version of the workbook. After a few times walking the boys through the steps for signing in and managing their accounts, they were able to use it independently. On "Pay Day," I had the difficult task of determining who called "dibs" to use the computer first. Grin!
Along with the online application, we decided to use the "envelope system" explained in the workbook within their money jars to further reinforce the concepts learned and keep their money separated between general savings and each goal.
As a reviewer, we had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with one of the creators of FamilyMint. During that call, Mr. Masterson said of their product, this "tool is the middleman" letting parents off the hook from always saying "no" to their children about how they spend their money. The answer and responsibility now lies in the child's hands.
This is true! Since beginning FamilyMint, do you know how many times I've been asked if we could go to the store and buy a Lego kit?
Can I get a hallelujah???!!!
The boys each have goals to buy a Lego kit, and they know how many weeks it will take them to reach their goal. There is no longer any need to ask me about it!
The boys have completely enjoyed FamilyMint and as a parent, I feel confident that we are setting them up for financial success both now and in the future. Without a doubt, we will use FamilyMint with each of our children as they reach the appropriate age.
If you are interested in purchasing FamilyMint for your family, please visit their website where you will find several options to meet your family's needs.