Sobering Savings Stats, Raising Savvy Savers, Monopoly e-Money: Weekly Family Finance Picks (#36)

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 1056 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

Want the fun stuff or the depressing stuff first? OK, let’s get the sobering news out of the way, so we can get back to non-reality! Here we go with this week’s picks:

Save 5 Times More

No Substitute For Saving

Here’s a serious reality check for you normal folks out there who’d like to be comfortable in retirement someday:

  • You probably need to be saving around 25% of your income (5 times more than what the average American is saving)
  • You can kiss off hoping for 8-10% returns on your assets
  • You need to consume less stuff
  • You need to start saving early (How’s that going?)

Depressed yet? Read the details here.

All the more reason to get your kids in the habit of saving now. Also a great reason to set up a “Family 401(k)” if your teen earned some W-2 income last year — there’s still time.

Some Further Thoughts on Children and Piggy Banks

OK, ready for a cute, happy saving success story now? Check out this one from Trent about his experiences with his two young kids ages 3 and 5. Maybe with his 5 pieces of sound advice, you can turn your kids into savvy savers too.

Money Games: Monopoly for YouTube Generation

Enough reality, let’s talk Monopoly money — or, shall we say, Monopoly e-Money. Dan covers a preview of the upcoming high-tech rendition of the old classic Monopoly here. It’s called Monopoly Live. Here’s the preview video:

Looks pretty cool. It’s due out in the fall.


Learn From Lance, Family Finance TMI, Gum Balls for Deposits: Weekly Picks (#35)

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 1029 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

The picks for this week are:

The Sooner Kids Learn About Finance, The Better

Personal Finance 101

This Q&A with Lance Suzuki, 2005 National Economics Teacher of the Year, caught my eye this week. I particularly loved his thumbnail sketch of the “Economics of Personal Finance” course he teaches to Juniors and Seniors at the Maryknoll school. Here’s the excerpt:

I definitely wanted to make the class an experience rather than just a lecture series, though. So, for instance, students have to write a resume, find a hypothetical job, then use their hypothetical salary to budget for some real-life financial goals: marriage, children, mortgages and retirement — they even have to fill out actual tax forms. Students also have to research stocks and make presentations to the class. Based on these presentations, students then have to make recommendations on which stock to purchase using a small fund of actual money set aside by Maryknoll for this course.

Wow. Awesome. Love the hands-on approach. I wish every kid could attend Lance’s class. Read the rest of this excellent Q&A here.

On a related note, Dan Kadlec over at Bank of Dad is a big proponent of mandatory personal finance courses for US students. He points out that, that, as of 2009, only 13 states require a personal finance course to graduate from high school.

Let’s hope that Lance’s curriculum catches on elsewhere.

My Money Is Your Money? — How To Talk About Your Finances With Your Kids

Do you talk to your kids about your own finances? How much information is too much information? Are you anxious about your child sharing that info with others or drawing drawing comparisons with your neighbors?


This is always a pretty charged topic with parents. Suzanne provides thoughtful commentary and advice in her article here.

Seems like step 1 is for the parents to get comfortable with their own situation and feelings around money. That makes subsequent conversations with the kids much easier.

I’ve always felt that how you handle your money should be an expression of your values, not just a function of how much money you have. Ideally, your values stay pretty constant, while your wealth may fluctuate quite a bit. So, I like to frame money conversations with my kids around values. One of my favorite role models in this area is the late Randy Pausch who talks about how what really matters is people, not things in his famous “Last Lecture”. The video is insanely inspirational. It really puts money and possessions into perspective. Watch it with your kids.

You can find an archive of Randy’s videos here.

Edmond Children’s Bank Gets Rave Reviews From Young Savers

by Tricia Pemberton on NewsOK.com

This local bank in Oklahoma is doing good stuff for kids. I like the special “Kids Counter” — the tiaras, cowboy hats, and gum-balls for deposits are pretty sweet too.

Bonus video: Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.


In-School Banking, Chore Dice, Torch the Tooth Fairy? Weekly Family Finance Picks (#34)

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 997 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

Two picks and one “anti-pick” this week. Let’s start with the anti-pick:

There Is No Tooth Fairy!

Suze Orman's Four Top Financial Lessons to Teach Your Kids

Just two weeks ago, Suze Orman made our top family finance picks list with her Fiscal Prudence 101 advice for teens. Well, she’s baaa-aaack, but in a different way. Let’s just call this an “anti-pick”. I’m finding her top 4 financial lessons for kids to be a bit austere. Nuke the Tooth Fairy? Really? Lighten up. Her advice got some readers pretty fired up. It’s not all bad, but I found her top 4 choices of financial lessons for kids to be curious at best. Read Aaron's interview and the reader comments here. See what you think.

Chore Dice

by Delia on Delia Creates

Time to clean the toilet? Let’s roll for it!

I just stumbled on Delia’s creative, fun idea for assigning those unpleasant little family tasks: chore dice. Read about how to make the dice and use them here.

I really like Delia’s site. It’s full of simple, family-oriented arts & crafts projects. A few are family finance oriented, like this nickel chore system.

Students Save With Pocket Change

by Laura Geggel on Issaquah Press

This strikes me as a cool model for introducing kids to banking and savings concepts: parents volunteer as tellers at your local school in partnership with a local bank. The parent tellers help kids open up a real savings account — $5 minimum plus a $5 initial matching in this case. On designated “Bank Days”, kids bring in their savings to make deposits with the parent tellers. Read more about the approach here.

Sadly, the original program was discontinued when Washington Mutual failed — there’s a lesson in there somewhere! Happily, the schools in Issaquah found a new banking partner (Washington Federal), and the program is back up and running at 4 local elementary schools. Washington Federal describes their program here.

Of course, it’s always a little dicey when businesses get intertwined with education. As long as it’s managed carefully though, this seems like an effective, tangible way for kids to learn and practice good saving habits.


Wanna Help Us Spread the Word? Here's How

Help FamZoo Spread the Word

Hey FamZoo booster!

If you like what we’re doing here at FamZoo and would be willing to help us get the word out, we’d be mighty appreciative!

Word-of-mouth is by far our most effective and compelling marketing channel.

Not sure where to start?

No problem. We’ve got lots of suggestions — everything from casual chit-chat to custom FamZoo shoes.

Most of them are super simple, super quick. Just click on a link below to get the details.

Use Our Referral Program

Does your family use our prepaid cards? Did you know you can receive a bonus delivered right to your primary funding card whenever you refer a new subscriber to FamZoo?

Interested? Read all about how our referral program works here.

Then you can use your special referral link with several of the suggestions below.

Talk to a Fellow Human Being

Yeah, yeah, we know. Face-to-face communication is so “Old School”. But, the next time you’re sitting around chatting with fellow parents and the topic of teaching kids about basic life skills comes up, we’d be ever so grateful for a mention.

Or, suppose you find yourself thrust into an awkward silent moment with some random parents at a school function or sporting event. Feel free to use FamZoo as an icebreaker. You could say something like:

Hey, have you ever heard of FamZoo? It’s this cool site we’ve been using to teach our kids about personal finance and charitable giving. It works like this...

Voilà! Ice broken.

Send an Email to a Friend

If you know someone with kids who might appreciate FamZoo, we’d be delighted if you dropped them a quick email on our behalf.

Feel free to wing it, but here’s a cut & paste sample in case you need something to get you started:

Subject: Cool Site for Teaching Kids about Personal Finance

We've been using this site called FamZoo.com to teach our kids some basic personal finance skills. It's also a great way to get them involved in charitable giving. I think you'd enjoy using it with your family too. You can see a quick 2min intro video here:


Let me know if you have any questions or want me to show you how we've set it up for our family.

Mention Us in Your Facebook News Feed

Every so often, let your Facebook friends know you’re using FamZoo to teach your kids personal finance skills. Something like:

We're using FamZoo.com to teach our kids personal finance skills. Questions? Just ask me. Here's their 2min intro video http://bit.ly/famzoointro

Just sign into Facebook, type a status update into your News Feed page (or even cut & paste the one above), and click Share. It’ll look like this:

Facebook Status Update

“Like” Our Web Site on Facebook

If you haven’t done so already, you can “like” our web site right here by clicking on the little Facebook widget below. When you click the Like button, you’ll have the option to add a comment that shows up in your News Feed as well. Need inspiration for a comment? See the previous section.

Comment on the FamZoo Facebook Page

We have a FamZoo page on Facebook at http://facebook.com/famzoo. Stop by and check out the Wall. Like, comment on, or share a recent post. Or, if something’s on your mind, weigh in with your own post.

Come Engage on the FamZoo Facebook Page

Tweet about @FamZoo on Twitter

From time to time, remind your Twitter followers that you’re using FamZoo with your family. Something short and sweet like:

Using @FamZoo to teach our kids good money habits. Check out 2min intro video here: http://bit.ly/famzoointro

You can use this widget to send a Tweet right now.

Feel free to follow FamZoo and retweet some of our messages too.

Mention FamZoo in an Article or Blog Comment

We get a lot of nice traffic to our site when folks mention FamZoo as part of a thoughtful, relevant comment on a popular article or blog post out on the Internet.

Need ideas on the best, most relevant places to comment? Check out our ever-growing list of bookmarks here. We collect and organize new links to posts and articles related to family finance every day.

Comment on a Family Finance Article

Comment on the FamZoo Blog

We post articles right here at least once a week: weekly roundups of family finance articles, tips for parents, How To videos, FamZoo news & stats — all kinds of stuff for parents who want to help their kids thrive in the real world.

It really boosts the credibility and the value of our blog when people like you contribute thoughtful commentary. Don’t be shy. Share your opinion. Be the one who gets the ball rolling!

Comment on the FamZoo Blog

Forward Our Monthly Newsletter to a Friend

How about forwarding our monthly newsletter to a couple of friends who might be interested?

Forward Our Newsletter to a Friend

Don't have one handy to forward right now? No problem. Just email your friends a link to our archive with all the past issues. Something like this:

Subject: Teaching Kids about Personal Finance


As a fellow parent, I thought you might be interested in this Newsletter from a site called FamZoo.com. We've been using it to teach our kids some basic personal finance skills and to get them involved in charitable giving. You can see the latest issues of their Newsletter here:


You can click on the "join our mailing list" link on the right side of the archive page to subscribe.

Best regards,

Share One of Our Videos

Visit the FamZoo Channel on YouTube to see our growing collection of videos. If you see one that tickles your fancy, please share it with a friend. As a sample, we’ve embedded one of our Introduction videos right here:

If you’d like to see all the different ways to share it, you can click on the YouTube button in the lower right corner of the player. That will launch the video on the YouTube site in a separate browser window. From there, you can click on the Share button beneath the video player and pick your favorite mode of sharing.

Share FamZoo Videos with Your Friends

Plaster Our Stickers All Over

We’ve got some fun stickers featuring Henry Payne’s delightful cartoon characters. If you have younger kids, they’re great for marking chore completions on paper chore charts. If you’re beyond the stickers-for-rewards phase, you can plaster them anywhere — laptop lids, cell phone cases, book covers, homework folders, you name it.

Check out this little slideshow to get a preview of our sticker pack:

Want some? Just contact us.

Hand Out Some of Our Business Cards

If you happen to be striking up those Old School face-to-face interactions, and want people to have an easy way to remember that site you were raving about, grab some of our business cards. They feature Henry’s awesome drawings, and it’s always fun to see which avatar someone chooses. (You know, kinda like dog owners seem to look like their dogs.)

Watch this slideshow to see all the different cards that come in a pack:

Want some? Just contact us. We’ll send you ones with generic contact info on the back, unless you have some overwhelming desire to masquerade as one of us. Weird.

Hand Out Some Free Months

So you’re a giver are you? Maybe you’d like to shower your friends with some free months of FamZoo.

You can do it in style with these colorful coupon cards:

FamZoo Coupon Cards

Just get in touch with us, and we’ll send you some cards along with your own personalized promo code to write on the back.

Buy a Gift Subscription for a Friend

Ah, you’re the super generous type. You want to give something to a friend and boost FamZoo’s bottom line at the same time. Bless you! A FamZoo gift subscription is just the ticket. Buy one (or ten!) here.

Buy a FamZoo Gift Subscription for a Friend

Send Us a Testimonial

Has FamZoo made a positive difference in your family? If you’re comfortable sharing, we’d love to feature your testimonial on the site and in our marketing materials. (We only list first names and last initials.) Just drop us a note with your story.

We'd Love to Hear Your Testimonial

Talk to a Reporter

Are you comfortable having your name in print? We respond to media inquiries all the time, and reporters love to include quotes from real members. If you’re up for it, just contact us. We’ll keep your name on file for that next big story!

Talk to a Reporter about FamZoo

Walk the Talk in Our Custom FamZoo Shoes!

OK, this one’s pretty out there, but if you’re really, really, really into FamZoo, and you want to walk the talk, then you gotta get ahold of some of these babies:

FamZoo Shoes In Action

Or, perhaps these might be more to your liking...

FamZoo Shoes - Converse

Go ahead. Take a walk on the wild side.


Now You Can Get FamZoo for Just $30 Per Year Per Family

Last night, we rolled out a new payment option for FamZoo — one with some major savings potential (up to $83!) if you’re willing to make a little up-front commitment.

You can still choose our month-to-month plan which remains at $5.99 per month per family and is automatically billed to your Paypal account or credit card each month. The nice thing about the monthly recurring plan is that you only have to go through the payment setup process once, and you can cancel payments at any time. That means your financial commitment is no more than 1 month.

That said, we’ve had a number of members tell us that they’re leary of the recurring payment model. Let’s be honest: How many of you have a recurring charge on your credit card that you’ve been meaning to cancel now for the last, oh, 3 to 5 years! Don't feel bad. I’m guilty too. I did that with NetFlix for years and only ordered a handful of DVDs. But I gotta say, I'm now lovin’ their new streaming service with my cool Roku player, so I don’t feel bad anymore.

Anyway, enough about me.

FamZoo families have been asking for a pay-in-advance option with one-time, up-front billing for the whole term (6, 12, or 24 months) instead of recurring monthly billing. When the term is up, you decide whether you want to continue. If so, you make another payment at that time. Of course, we (gently) remind you a bit in advance so you can avoid any interruption in service.

Oh, and how about a pay-in-advance discount that grows with your commitment? Seems fair. You can save up to 58% over the month-to-month plan (a total of $83.77) if you commit for 24 months. That works out to just $2.50 a month or (a half penny less than) $30 a year. Good stuff.

Here’s what the new subscription screen looks like:

FamZoo Pricing Feb 2011

You can even switch between the payment options as desired. For example, suppose you’re on a monthly plan now and you’d like to switch over to paying in advance. Just visit the Store tab, and click on the Change Billing Info link. You’ll see it as the bottom option, like this:

Switch to Pay In Advance

Click Next, and follow the instructions from there.

So now you can have it either way: convenience with no commitment and no discount; or, a little more effort, a little more commitment, and a lot more discount.

Your choice.

on | 1 COMMENT

Pro Bono Chores, Pretty Penny, Julia's Allowance 'Tude: Weekly Family Finance Picks (#33)

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 975 now! Each week, we pick our favorite articles from the previous week and post them here.

The picks for this week are:

Teaching Children to Help Neighbors, With or Without Reward

Pro Bono Vs. Paid

Should your kid’s work for neighbors be pro bono or paid? Well, it depends.

Alina covers several interesting points worth reflecting upon in this thoughtful NY Times article. I like the sentiments expressed. Balance and judgement are key.

Family finance guru, Joline Godfrey, who’s quoted in the article, adds some follow-up commentary on the subject here.

A New Children’s Book Filled With Money Lessons

Looking for simple ways to introduce basic money concepts to your young children? You might want to try the new children’s book Pretty Penny. It passed the test with Stacey’s 5 year old daughter. Read about their experience here.

Wanna take a peek? You can preview the book and its illustrations on book’s site. You can also check out the extras page for fun printable cards, wallpaper images for your computer, and avatars.

Julia No-Concept-Of-Money Resciniti Gets An Allowance

Speaking of introducing kids to the value of a dollar, I’m always a sucker for entertaining little vignettes from parents who are rolling out their new “system” to their unsuspecting child. You’ll get a chuckle out of Joey’s story here.

It’s Tim’s fault. Classic.

Bonus video:Lately in his Bank of Dad column, Dan Kadlec has been closely tracking the efforts of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission in Washington DC. In this video, Dan has good tough, direct questions for the new head of the council — John Rogers. John acknowledges and understands the need to educate kids on basic personal finance skills, although he might be a touch too investment focused for my liking.

The real problem? I’m not hearing much of a solid game-plan yet. I’m gonna ssume John will pull one together though. Why? He played hoops for Princeton under the legendary coach Pete Carril. Go Tigers!

Here’s the interview: