A few weeks ago I posed a question on TBH’s Facebook page regarding financial education. Specifically, I asked what kind of education our FB fans received as children. Almost all of the answers, including mine, consisted of the words “not much”. For the most part we were all thrown into adulthood and expected to know what to do with our money.
I suspect the case is the same in most households. While I believe our children probably know more than most because of the trials we’ve been through in the last few years, there is a still a lot they could know.
This is exactly how the FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program came to be. The authors, Robert Masterson and Jeff Eusebio, wanted to provide their (many!) children with a solid financial background before they hit adulthood.
FamilyMint is a program that is taught via workbook and carried out online using a program similar to online banking. Each chapter is a new lesson with most lessons taking 2-5 pages. Lessons include tracking your money, setting goals, budgeting and growing your money.
At the time of this blog post (3/18/2013) FamilyMint offers the complete program, including one workbook and lifetime premium online membership for $29.99, with the chance to buy extra workbooks for 50% off. The premium membership includes online access, unlimited transaction history, no ads and some advanced parental controls. In addition to this offer you can purchase the online program only at a few different price points.
I’m just going to say this right now…while I really like the FamilyMint workbook I wasn’t crazy about the online tracking portion. This is a personal preference thing, it took too much time for me to log into the account every day to approve every transaction for each child. You can speed the process up by setting up automatic transfers and having your children manage their own account, but most of my children weren’t ready to be on their own with it yet. If I had it to do over again we would maintain one imaginary account for teaching and practice purposes only.
The good news is that you don’t have to use the online portion of the program if you don’t want to.
I knew by the end of the first lesson that the online portion wasn’t for us but the workbook portion was very well received, especially by my 8 year old son. At the end of the first lesson my children knew how to write a check and deposit slip and knew the basics of keeping a check register.
You begin the program by instructing your children to find all the money they have to initially fund their account, to which they are to add their weekly allowance. We used play money for this portion because none of my kids have any money (well, the teenagers do but they’re already saving it for something else) and also because we don’t pay our children an allowance.
The goal setting lessons are taught using real life examples, which really helps to bring the lessons home. The budgeting portion of the program teaches children how to use the tried & true envelope method. Other lessons include figuring out interest rates and saving for a rainy day.
The second half of the workbook has a mock check register, goal tracking sheet, blank checks and deposit slips. If you’re like me and opt to use only the workbook you’ll find these pages invaluable.
What I Like:
This program is unique in that it speaks to children as young as 5 or 6 but also contains valuable information for older teens without making them feel patronized.
The FamilyMint website has a blog with lots of extra mini lessons and talking points, including issues like giving to charity and staying motivated.
What I Love:
The program isn’t overwhelming and can be finished in a just a few weeks. You could finish the program in as little as a week if you are really motivated, but for us a month was just about perfect.
What I wasn’t crazy about:
With all of that said, I think FamilyMint is pretty cool and my kids did too. We declared Mondays to be “Money Monday” and were able to complete the lessons in four weeks. My kids still don’t have any money (and we’re still not paying them to do their chores) but I think they have a better understanding of what they’ll be facing as adults.
RELATED LINK: If you go to Disney World you have to check out The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, located in one of the Innoventions buildings. You and your kids team up to set & meet a financial goal by playing fun, hands-on (really hands-on!) games. A trip to WDW isn’t necessary though, The Great Piggy Bank Adventure is also a fun online program, free and full of all sorts of fun games to reinforce the principles learned in FamilyMint.