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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#25)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

It was a quiet week out on the Internet for family finance articles with people gearing up for and then recovering from the holiday in the US. So, we’ll go with just one pick that’s in keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving:

Making Gratitude the New Attitude

Nothing Like a Little Fall FootballI love the notion of expressing gratitude for the little things in life — like playing catch with a football on a crisp Fall afternoon. Taking the time to instill that concept in your kids is even better.

Andrea’s guest post shares 11 terrific suggestions for “promoting an attitude of gratitude” in your kids (and yourself). Check ’em out here.

And, if you’d like to dig deeper, check out her new book too.

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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#24)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

This week, we’ve got some stats, a solid chore scheme, a cool new web tool, and, yep, another bonus video:

Financial Literacy Top of Mind for Parents Post-Recession

When Should Parents Start Teaching Kids About Money Matters?Where do American parents stand on issues related to teaching their kids about money? Looks like most agree that starting young makes a lot of sense.

The COUNTRY survey on financial literacy — a telephone survey of 1,188 adults — asked the following 6 questions:

  • How would you rate communication with your children on the subject of financial matters?
  • At what age do you think a parent should start teaching their child about money matters?
  • How confident are you that you have the knowledge to educate your children about personal finance?
  • Is the school where your children are enrolled doing enough to educate them about basic money management?
  • Have current economic conditions caused you to focus more on educating your children about personal finance?
  • How honest are you about the state of your family finances with your child?

One of the biggest gaps between mom and dad responses was on that last question: 62.5% of men indicated they’re “very honest” about the state of family finances with their children vs. a lower 53.6% of women. Hmmm, interesting... Do you think the guys were being honest about their honesty? ;-)

See the rest of the survey data here.

Do My Kids Have Chores? pffft

I like this mom’s well-organized chore rotation schedule for her teens. See it here. I enjoyed her wry sense of humor too — probably a survival characteristic of all parents with teens. Works for me.

Pricing Used Goods for Sale

It’s not unusual for my kids to want to raise a little cash by selling a no-longer-cherished item on eBay. Often, we have no idea what to put for the starting bid. Jennifer’s article covers a neat new solution to that problem. Check it out here.

And, finally, the bonus video is becoming a habit. Here’s one for this week from CBS MoneyWatch that reinforces one of my favorite concepts — the budget-based allowance:

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How to Make a Wish List in FamZoo and Share it with Your Family

The Checklist capability in FamZoo isn’t just for tracking your kid’s chores. It’s actually a very general purpose tool for tracking all kinds of lists and sharing them within your family.

Our latest How To video shows how you can use FamZoo checklists as wish lists for upcoming birthdays and holidays. Check it out here. (Don’t miss the surprise cameo appearance by Mick Jagger at the end!)

You can find our other How To videos and more on the FamZoo YouTube Channel.

Video Transcript

Do you have a wish list for the gifts you’d love to get on your next birthday or over the holidays?

Turn your wish list into a FamZoo checklist, and you’ll be able to easily share it with other members of your family. You can even set it up so they’ll be automatically notified whenever you add something new.

Here’s how you do it.

Suppose I’m a kid in the Tiger family, and I’m signed into my FamZoo account.

That’s me right there.

To create my Wish List, I just scroll down to the Checklist overview section and click on the Create link.

Up comes the Create Checklist form.

I’ll give my wish list a name, and I’ll decide who to share it with.

I can give it a description too.

After clicking Create List, I see my new, empty list selected and ready to go under the Checklist tab.

I can see the name of my list, it’s description, who I’m sharing it with, and the fact that it doesn’t have any items yet.

Notice I can move between my lists (and any lists shared with me) by clicking on the name up in the header and selecting another list from the pull-down menu.

So let’s go back to my empty Wish List and start filling it up with items.

Click on one of the Add Item links and a form pops up. I can fill in a description and click Add Item or just hit the return key to add it to my list.

Let’s add another one.

To edit an item, just move your mouse over it and click on the pencil icon when it appears. You can make your changes in the popup edit form.

Likewise, to delete an item, mouse over it and click on the trash can icon.

If I actually receive a gift on my list, I can just check it off like this.

I suppose if someone takes it back, I can uncheck it too.

I can send my list to a lucky family member by clicking on the Send link in the Actions section.

Pick someone in the family. Edit the message if you like. And send it along.

Here’s what my message looks like in Dad’s email inbox.

Now, suppose I want to alert my poor family members right away whenever I add a new wish to my list. I just click on the Alerts link in the sidebar. Up comes a form where I can set up a bunch of different alerts for this list. I’ll click on “Add An Alert” under “Whenever an item on this list is added” to set up a text alert for Dad. I’ll click it again to add an Email alert for Mom. Then, I’ll Save ’em.

Now, when I add a new item, like this.

Dad will immediately receive a nice little alert on his mobile phone - like that. And Mom will get a similar email, too.

Whenever Dad wants to see everything that’s currently my wish list, he can just sign into FamZoo, look for the list I shared with him, and click on it. There it is.

So that’s how you create and share wish lists in FamZoo.

Good luck with your wishes, but remember what Mick says, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need.”

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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#23)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

This week, our picks feature chore battle strategies, tips for parents with iPhone/iPad wielding kids, charitable project suggestions for the upcoming holidays, and a couple of bonus videos.

The Big Bad Chore Wolf

Winning the Chore Battle

Do you skirmish with your kids over chores? (If not, what’s your secret??!!) Sheila shares some excellent practical tips in her article on winning the chore battle.

How to Keep Your Kids from Bankrupting You with App Store Spending

by PatrickJ on iSource.com

Do your kids access games or music using your iPhone or iPad? You’ll want to review this article before they rack up some unexpected bills.

Christmas Jar

The [Insert-holiday-name-here] Jar is a neat idea for introducing youngsters to philanthropy in a tangible, hands-on way. Read Kelli’s article here, and get started now before you’re overwhelmed with holiday prep. Don’t miss the article’s comment section for some additional suggestions.

For those who like video, a couple of bonus picks this week:

We had a brief, but nice mention in the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine last week. WooHoo! The blurb included a webisode from the Secret Millionaires Club featuring a cartoon Warren Buffet dispensing basic business and financial advice in a kid friendly format. The video seemed pretty catchy to me. See what your kids think:

And lastly, I stumbled upon a collection of short videos by Rene Hackney on teaching your kids about money. Here’s the first segment in the series:

You can find the remainder of the 10 part series here.

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Kids: Make Your Own Secret Code Font

Can you read this message?

Secret Message for 11/11/2010

Of course you can’t! That’s because it’s written in a secret code. One created by my very own little secret agent.

What kid doesn’t like passing messages around in secret code? My 8 year old is no exception. A few months back, he created this secret code:

The Circle Code

The problem is, writing coded messages by hand takes a loooong time. But yesterday, he had a brilliant idea: “Dad, let’s create a special font so I can just type my messages in on the computer and print them out.” Yeah, that would be awesome! Then he could crank out tons of secret messages!

How the heck did he come up with that idea? And, how do you pull it off anyway? A while back, I stumbled upon a site called Fontifier that let’s you turn your handwriting into a custom font. Then you can install your custom font on your PC or Mac and use it in your favorite writing and drawing programs. Really cool.

The steps are straightforward — download a template, fill it in, scan it, and upload the scanned image. Fontifier will show you a preview of your font right there in your browser. If you like it, you can pay 9 bucks to download the custom font file, which you can then install on your computer. The steps are all well documented on the site. Also, here’s an old review on lifehacker.com with some good tips.

Here's a sample of the font we created with my son’s decorative lettering:

Custom Kid Font

So how do you create the secret code font? Just follow all the same steps for creating a regular handwriting font, but when you download the template, just have your little secret agent fill in a secret symbol in place of each letter. The template will serve as the key for the code. Here’s my son’s:

Secret Code Font

By the way, I highly recommend creating a custom font out of your youngster’s handwriting as well. It’s a wonderful way to capture some memories, and it’s fun for writing notes to grandma and grandpa, making custom cards, making custom T-Shirts (here’s one of my favorite examples) and any number of other digital art projects.

So, did you crack my son’s code and figure out his secret message at the top of this post yet? (Hint: use the new key in the fontifier template above)

Have fun!

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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#22)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

This week, it’s boomerang kids, collaborative savings, and personal finance books for kids (plus a couple of bonus items):

Guiding a Child to Financial Independence

by Beth Kobliner on The New York Times

IMG_4045Considering that FamZoo is all about preparing kids for the “wild” — i.e., equipping kids with the skills they need to make it on their own in the real world — this New York Times article really got my attention last week. It opens with a Mom explaining how delighted she was that her daughter moved back home after college — along with her boyfriend no less (whom the daughter apparently graciously “invited”).

Yikes!

We love our kids dearly, but I shudder at the thought of all five of them boomeranging back to our doorstep after college. And with boyfriends and girlfriends in tow? Um, no. What ever happened to freshly minted graduates banding together as roommates after school and eating Top Ramen to keep rent and food expenses low?

According to Beth, we should “expect children to move home” after college. In fact, she cites a survey that found 85% of college graduates last spring plan to do so just that. Uh oh! Maybe I’m too harsh, but that is not an expectation I have any intention of setting, no matter what the statistics say.

When it comes to adult children, my love is unconditional, but my financing is not — don’t confuse the two!

Read the article here and see what you think.

Teaching Kids About Saving Money with SmartyPig

Many FamZoo families like to periodically roll their child’s virtual savings account balances over to a real world savings account. This article introduces another interesting option — SmartyPig. It’s an online savings account that makes it easy for family and friends to contribute toward your child’s savings goal.

Read the post and check out this intro video:

Best Books on Personal Finance for Your Kids

Want to throw a couple of books with personal finance messages into the reading mix for your kids? I know, sounds hideously dull, but it doesn’t have to be. Aaron has just compiled a list of recommendations for you here.

I like the one that explains what would happen if money really did grow on trees.

And, last but not least, a couple honorable mentions this week for those who like to watch quick videos or listen to short streaming audio:

First, the video: a nice little summary of allowance and chore approaches. It’s a local news segment that features an interview with Angela Ardolino, founder of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

On the audio front, here’s an amusing, brief interview with Robert Wilder, the author of Daddy Needs a Drink. The title of the segment is “Parenting on the Edge: What is the right amount of allowance?”. Listen to it here.

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Weekly Family Finance Picks (#21)

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit the FamZoo delicious page to see our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks. Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

The picks for this week are:

A Father’s Acceptance: His Son Won’t Be Following His Ivy Footsteps

Worried about the path your child is on?

College is looming somewhere out there in the distance for your kids. Ever fretted about the path your child is on? Do you find yourself comparing it to your own? Who doesn’t, at least just a little...

You’ll appreciate this thought-provoking essay in the New York Times. Check out the follow up post as well which responds to some of the best reader comments on “high-octane” parents and their “blessedly decaffeinated” kids.

Charity: How to Teach Your Kids to Give

Sometimes, the concept of charitable giving is just way too abstract for kids. How can we make it less mechanical, more human, and more tangible? Stacey provides some good suggestions here.

Two other suggestions that might fit well with your family:

The Above and Below Average 529 Plans

Considering opening a 529 account for your child’s college fund? Jennifer summarizes the latest Morningstar ratings to help you choose the best 529 plans and avoid the worst.