Stick FamZoo on Your Chore Chart

All youngsters love stickers!

We just made a fun sticker book on the fabulous Moo.com. It features 33 different characters from FamZoo artist Henry Payne. Flip through’em in this Flickr slideshow:

If you’ve got younger kids around the house, you might consider having them make their own chore chart — a great place to slap some stickers. Check out this Dad Labs video on the topic. These guys crack me up. Poor dog!

If you’re interested in getting some of our stickers, just contact us and we’ll see what we can do. (We only did a small run for starters.)

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Save Your Marshmallows, Stop the McNagging, and Give without Getting Scammed: Weekly Family Finance Picks (#28)

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. We’re up to 821 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

This week, it’s all about saving your marshmallows, stopping the McNagging, and giving within your community (without getting scammed):

The Words Every Parent Longs to Hear

Marshmallow Snowman

Teaching kids to delay gratification is a key element to ensuring their financial future. (Not sure about that? Read up on the famous Marshmallow Experiment.)

Based on the back and forth in this column, I’d say Stephen’s son passes the Marshmallow Test. Arguably, the son has a better handle on priorities than the dad. Witness the passage that elicits the quote “It’s only money, Dad, and this is family.” I love that.

I don’t think the key issue is so much exactly where you draw the gratification boundaries — your mileage may very. For example, we cave to the cell phone urge at middle school. That’s earlier than some parents, but later than many others. The key issue is establishing some gratification boundaries and sticking to them.

If you kids turn out like Levi — and I hope they do — they’ll thank you later. Read about Stephen and Levi’s experiences here.

Eight Ways to Thwart McNagging and Take Control of Fast-Food Spending

Speaking of delaying gratification and food (are marshmallows food?)... How about those Happy Meals? (Are Happy Meals food?) Anyway, MBHunter presents a wonderful little essay on why the proposed ban on Happy Meals misses the parenting point.

Whether you agree or disagree with MBHunter’s stance, you’ll find 8 outstanding tips on dealing properly with your kid’s “McNagging”. These tips extend well beyond the realm of Happy Meals. Keep them in mind as you mentor your child on good personal finance habits.

Read the commentary here.

In the Spirit of the Holidays: Donating to Charities and Avoiding Scams

Motherly Law serves up a thoughtful and thorough article with 12 excellent community giving suggestions for busy Moms and Dads (that’d be you!). Check’em out here.

Finally, I have a bonus video that pulls kids, delayed gratification, and charitable giving together in one nice Christmas package: Five year old Tenley Hollman forgoes her American Girl Doll for a wonderful holiday cause. Watch the video:

Maybe you’d like to contribute too?


Transform Your Child's Gimme Attitude into a Giving Attitude over the Holidays

Do your kids end up on just one end of the gift exchange during the holidays — the receiving end?

Here are some ideas for involving your child in the giving end and practicing some good personal finance habits long the way:

Video Transcript

Tis’ better to give than to receive, right? During the holidays, kids often end up on just one end of the gift exchange: the receiving end!

What’s the natural side effect of this lopsided situation? Perhaps a me-centric point of view? A growing sense of entitlement?

How can parents transform a “Gimme!” Attitude into a Giving Attitude?

Maybe it’s time to involve your kids more formally in the giving side of the gift equation. And while they’re learning the natural joy of giving, you can pass along a few budgeting fundamentals and a healthy appreciation for the value of a dollar.

Let’s see how a system like FamZoo can help you get organized.

Let’s say I’m the Dad in the mythical Tiger family. I’ll be working with Cub, the middle child.

Let’s start by working out a gift giving budget for Cub.

I sign into FamZoo as Dad, scroll down to the Budgets section on the Overview page, and click on the Create Budget link.

I’ll pick Cub as the owner of the budget.

I’ll name the budget “Holiday Gifts”.

To help us coordinate, I’ll set it up to send us text alerts whenever someone adds a comment to the budget.

When I click Create Budget, FamZoo sends me to the budget worksheet page.

Here I can start adding some items to the budget by typing them in at the top.

Many families have gift giving “rules” during the holidays that vary by family size or situation. In this example, let’s say the Tiger family guidelines are that each kid gives one “big” gift to another family member (perhaps drawing the name out of a hat), gives a medium gift to Gramma and Grandpa, and gives fun little token gifts for everybody in the immediate family.

The budget worksheet is a handy place to record and communicate these guidelines.

As a learning experience, let’s turn the budget over to Cub and let him propose some amounts for our budget items. I’ll leave a comment to that effect.

Cub signs in, scrolls down to his Budgets section, sees the Holiday Gifts budget, and clicks on it to go to the worksheet. He can move his mouse over an item and click on the pencil icon to edit it.

He’s seen the iPad on his sister’s shared wish list. That sounds cool, so he pops in $500 for her gift. He updates the other items as well.

OK, that should do it. He lets Dad know he’s ready to go by adding a comment to the budget.

Uh, yeah...Looks like this is a good time for a little fiscal reality chat with Cub. Maybe let Cub know that some or all of the gift-giving funds will be coming out of his own FamZoo Pocket Money account.

Maybe hop over to the Savings Planner to see just how many weeks of allowance it would take to cover the grand suggestions from our little “Mr. Magnanimous”.

Ok, that was a quick lesson. Let’s go back to the budget worksheet and start revising things to be a bit more reasonable. No more iPad for Big Sis — let’s keep it around 20 bucks. Let’s cut the little gifts figure to a couple of dollars each. And, let’s bring the “awesome-ness” down a notch for Grandma and Grandpa.

Now we’re talking. Time to hit the stores.

Before we do that though, one last thing.

Let’s set up a separate Holiday Gifts account where Cub can track his purchases.

As Dad, Click on the Create Account link in the Accounts section.

Select Cub as the owner.

Fill in a Name.

Set the Starting Balance to the amount — if any — that Mom & Dad are chipping in.

Let’s check the box that allows cub to enter the purchases on his own, but let’s stay informed with a text message on each entry.

Back on the Overview page, I can see the new account with the starting balance from Mom & Dad. I’ll use the + and - icons to transfer in the rest of the budgeted amount from Cub’s own Pocket Money account.

Now Cub can head off to do his own holiday shopping. He can use FamZoo to record the amounts, and monitor how much he has left in his budget. This can either be done from a mobile device right at the store, or later from a computer at home.

This year, you can bet he’ll enjoy delivering his personally selected gifts. You can also bet he’ll have a better appreciation for the gifts he receives.

So, that’s how FamZoo can help you transition your child from “Gimme!” to Giving, and build some good financial habits along the way.

From the FamZoo Crew to your family: Happy holidays!


Junior Investing, Kids Gone Mobile, 43 Steps to Frugal Kids, and Unleashing the Creative Beast: Weekly Family Finance Picks (#27)

This week’s picks run the gamut from investment related gifts for older kids to unleashing the “Creative Beast” in the bonus section. Here they are:

Top 7 Gifts for Teaching Older Kids About Money

Santa Mobile

Dan supplies his top 7 gift picks for teaching older kids about money. I love the “Family 401(k)” idea and I'm a huge fan of the Kahn Academy. I also like the idea of introducing kids to the concepts of investing and the risk vs. reward tradeoff.

If you’re thinking of an investment related gift for your child this year and want to look beyond Dan’s quick stock picks, here are two additional helpful resources: Stocking Stuffers: 10 Investments For Kids and Giving the Gift of Financial Knowledge.

Are Your Kids Ready for a Cell Phone?

Thinking about giving your child their first cell phone this holiday season? Jason delivers a nice round-up of issues to consider before taking the plunge.

We’ve always used middle school as our starting point, added the kids to our family plan, and had them pick up the tab for any overrages as well as monthly cell phone insurance (or the full cost of a replacement — now that’s always a quick lesson!).

What are your guidelines?

43 Ways to Teach Your Child the Importance of Frugality

Guest Post by Ashley G of Coupon Sherpa on Travel Wires

I liked the ability to quickly scan this solid list of 43 brief bullet-point style tips for teaching kids to be frugal. Definitely some good ones in there. As a father of 5, I had to chuckle at #33 — so true!

And, last but not least, some bonus media for you this week.

You’ll love this presentation from Betsy Streeter. It just won the Best Presentation Contest on Slideshare in the Creative category. Flip through it now, and encourage the “Creative Beast” in your youngster today.


FamZoo Made Stick Figure Simple

What’s FamZoo all about?

According to Mike Davenport over at Stick Figure Simple, this is what FamZoo’s all about:

Having trouble viewing the presentation? View it in Flickr here

Make sense?

Wanna see what FamZoo looks like in more than 1 dimension? Check out the FamZooDotCom YouTube Channel.


Weekly Family Finance Picks (#26)

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. We’re up to 770 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

This week features fake chores from real professions, the ins-and-outs of custodial accounts, and cr@ppy jobs for kids:

Groundbreaking Twist On Traditional Allowance

Here’s a very clever allowance strategy for young kids that I’d never heard of: pay your youngsters modest sums for sets of chores modeled after actual tasks culled from real professions — Art Teacher, Zoologist, Toy Designer, etc. This article previews an upcoming book that lays out the details for doing just that. It’s called Earn It, Learn It by Alicia T. Weinstein.

Art Teacher Task List

You can find out more about the book on EarnMyKeep.com. Alicia’s site includes a thorough sneak peek — table of contents, intro, and two career profiles. Check out the PDF here.

Weighing a Custodial Account for Your Kid

Quite some time ago, the grandparents set up custodial accounts for our kids to teach them investing concepts — very thoughtful, generous, and educational! If you or your relatives are considering a similar move, Bill’s quick five point article provides an excellent overview of the legal and tax implications. I learned a few things. Read it here.

Tie Allowance to Chores or Not?

OK, so this topic’s been done to death. But, what sparked my keen interest here was the raging debate in the comments on whether it’s morally acceptable to offer a six year old the optional extra paid chore of scooping dog poops at less than minimum wage — a real “cra@p” job so to speak! (I was tempted to base my blog graphic on this entry, but wiser thinking prevailed.) See the back and forth commentary here.

By the way, I like MBHunter’s hybrid system of a modest allowance coupled with extra paid chores — whether cr@ppy or not.