3min Video Review of FamZoo by Family Finance Blogger Kelly Whalen

Family finance blogger, Kelly Whalen, over at The ¢entsible Life reviews FamZoo in this short 3 minute video. Check it out:

PS: If you're feeling a mild sense of déjàvu, you're not imagining things. I first mentioned this review in a March 2nd post, but it was embedded in a much longer video and could only be viewed in a tiny player that was quite challenging to navigate. In the meantime, I've extracted the relevant section of video in a larger format, mixed in some cartoons and screenshots to illustrate Kelly's points, and delivered it through a higher quality player from Vimeo.com. I hope you'll find it to be a more pleasant viewing experience!

PPS: For those who might be interested in producing their own videos like this, the software I'm using is ScreenFlow for the Mac, and I highly recommend it. The groovy music in the intro and the outro is “Bare Feet Bossa” - a royalty free track that I purchased from Loopsound.com.

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What's the Tooth Fairy's going rate these days? $10? Are you serious?

ToothFairyMy friend's kid just lost his first tooth. The Tooth Fairy cometh — tonight! But how much should the TF leave under the pillow? My friend is surveying his buddies on Facebook to get some input, so I figured I'd take the opportunity to do some spelunking in the FamZoo database to get some real statistics for him1.

Here's what I found based on credit transactions containing the word "tooth" (after eliminating a few spurious ones referring to "BlueTooth" which would have seriously skewed things!):

Min Max Average/Mean Median Mode
$1.00 $10.00 $2.63 $2.00 $1.00

$10? Whoaaa! Maybe that was for a whole mouthful. Or, maybe the parent was playing catchup for some previous missed visits.

Anyway, if we consider $10 and up to be outliers, throw them out, and re-run the stats, we get:

Min Max Average/Mean Median Mode
$1.00 $5.00 $2.31 $2.00 $1.00

Personally, I favor giving a dollar. Maybe two for a molar or even more for some sort of painful dentist extraction.

If you're looking for some additional commentary, stories, and lots of opinions, you'll enjoy the Wall Street Journal blog post "How Much Does Your Tooth Fairy Give?"

What about your family? How much (or what) does your Tooth Fairy give?

1To protect privacy, we only disclose anonymous aggregate statistics. So, those of you who gave in the high or low range, don't worry, your secret is safe with us!

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In Dog We Trust? Does a Cashless Allowance Work for Your Family?

I'm a big fan of David Owen's book The First National Bank of Dad (←affiliate link), but apparently my 8 year old prefers to put his money in the First National Bank of Dog instead.

Bank Of Dog Deposit Slip

As a follow-on to his "Don't Let Your Dog Eat Your Money" tip from last week, my son presented me with this hand-made deposit slip filled with coins he'd been collecting in his Piggy Bank. I guess he'd decided that his cash stash was getting big enough that the risk of theft from siblings was getting uncomfortably high. Time to put it in the virtual family bank. Good call.

I noticed that he called it a "Colby Check" (Colby is our miniature dachshund — the unofficial FamZoo mascot and successor to our dearly departed Bonzo). This provided the perfect opportunity to have a little chat about the difference between a deposit slip and a check, and how both work in general. It was a nice impromptu teachable moment.

FamZoo's virtual family bank helps parents follow what some call a "cashless allowance approach". You can read a nice brief description of the approach in Greg Katz's recent article "Cashless Allowance System Seems to Work".

Some people say that the approach robs children of the experience of handling real, tangible money. I haven't found that to be the case. Kids still have opportunities to interact with real money - opportunities like the "Bank of Dog" deposit experience I shared with my son. You can always let the kids withdraw (reasonable amounts of) spending cash from their "cashless" accounts to stick in their wallets, purses, or piggy banks for moderate impromptu pending or emergencies. In our case, I guess that would be the "Bank of Dog ATM" scenario.

What do you think of the cashless allowance (aka "Bank-of-Mom/Dad/Dog") model? Have you tried it with your kids? We'd love to hear about your experiences. What's worked well? What hasn't?


FamZoo Blog Gets a Facelift

We've just rolled out a new design here for the FamZoo blog. For those who are new here, this is what the old one looked like:

BlogDesign 1/21/2010

I know: pretty hideous! My fault. I was just going with a default template until I could free up some time to do a proper job.

And, for posterity if/when our design evolves, here's a screenshot of the new look as of today:

Blog Design 3/16/2010

Ah, certainly an improvement. Kudos go to Lea Alcantara for the excellent design work. I'll take the blame for any bugs in the custom blogger template implementation.

Got an opinion about our new design? Don't be shy. Test out our comment form and let us hear from you! Suggestions welcome.


Personal Finance Tip from an 8 Year Old: Don't Let Your Dog Eat Your Money

A little personal finance tip from an eight year old with a piebald dachshund who likes to shred anything within 36 inches of the floor: Don't leave your cash lying around. Put it in a bank for safe keeping.


OK, so maybe these days the probability that a bank will eat your cash actually exceeds the probability that a miniature dachshund will eat your cash, but in normal times, I think the advice is generally sound!

Credits: The cartoon is courtesy of my 8 year old son who wandered into my office while I was fiddling around with some illustration concept ideas inspired by the cool work of Betsy Streeter. He came back a few minutes later with his take on the value proposition for FamZoo.


Need a Sensible Allowance Strategy for Your Kids?

Are you looking for a sensible allowance strategy to teach your kids the basics of personal finance?

Kelly Whalen, a family finance blogger over at The Centsible Life, just covered this very topic in the premiere episode of her new online video show "The Centsible Show". Check out the video replay below to hear her tips and techniques on the topic as well as some Q & A with her listeners. At about the ten minute mark, Kelly also shares her recent experiences with FamZoo. Check it out.

But before you dive in...I have to say that I found the video player that is used for the broadcast to be pretty darn confusing. So, to spare you the struggles that I went through, I've included a little quick tutorial on using the video player to watch the episode. (OK, maybe it's just me, but in case you're similarly challenged...)

Brief Tutorial:The Stickam video player can be used to watch a collection of videos from a particular show. In this case, our player is tuned into Kelly Whalen's Centsible Show.

1. First Appearance2. Show the player menu3. Show the available videos
1. First appearance: When it first appears on your page (which can sometimes take a while), the player will be rotating through still shot previews of each of the videos available for this show. There will also be an extra image for the overall show itself. Don't click on the still images rotating in the player, because you'll be taken off to another window.2. Show the player menu: Hover over the leftmost circular icon at the bottom of the player, and you'll see the tip "Display Menus" appear. Click on this icon to show a menu in the player.3. Show the available videos: Move down to the second menu item labeled "View Movies". Click on this item to see the list of available videos. WARNING: don't click on "Open Bigger Screen" - it doesn't work!
4. Launch the desired video5. Show the progress indicator6. Jump to a spot
4. Launch the desired video: The movies are displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent video is at the top. Click on the desired entry (in this case the bottom one to get to the first video in the series) to start playing the video.5. Show the progress indicator: If you hover over the player, you'll see a progress indicator band that shows the video name, date/time of recording, and current elapsed playing time. The text bounces back and forth so that you can read it all in the small space.6. Jump to a spot: As the video downloads, a (very) subtle shaded transparent bar grows from left to right in the progress area to show how much has been buffered and a little vertical bar indicates your current position. Click within the shaded bar or drag the indicator bar left or right to jump to a specific spot within the video.

And now, for the show! (The mini FamZoo review is 12 minutes and 11 seconds into the video.)

The player will appear just below, but
sometimes it takes a little while to appear...