How to Split a Credit Between FamZoo Accounts

As a FamZoo parent, you already know you can automatically split your child’s recurring allowance and/or chore payments between multiple accounts — like, say, spending, saving, and giving. Just define the splits once up front when you’re creating the allowance or the chore entry, and you’re all set.

But, what if you want to split a one-off deposit — like a birthday check from grandma or a babysitting payment — between accounts? Until last week, there was no super convenient way to do that. You had to calculate the split amounts in your head and credit each account separately. The new Split Credit feature takes care of all that for you in one simple step. You can either type in the specific split percentages you want, or you can quickly grab the split percentages off an existing allowance.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Look for the “Split Credit” Link

You can find the new Split Credit link in two places: (1) in the footers of the Account Balances and Account Activity sections on the Overview page or (2) in the Actions section of the left-hand sidebar on the Accounts and Transactions pages within the Bank tab. Note: you’ll only see the links if you have access to more than one account for a given family member.

Look for the Split Credit Link

Step 2: Choose a Family Member

In most cases, you’ll be asked to pick the family member for whom you’d like to split the credit. One exception is when you’re on the Transactions page. In that case, FamZoo will assume the desired family member is the owner of the account transactions you’re currently viewing, and you’ll jump directly to the next step.

Choose a Family Member for the Split Credit

Step 3: Fill in the Details

As the final step, fill in the date, description, total amount, and possibly a memo for your credit. Then, indicate how you’d like to split the total amount between accounts.

If your child has one or more allowances, they’ll be displayed in the split section, and you can select one to pick up its predefined split percentages. Or, you can always enter whatever split percentages you’d like directly in the last set of fields. That can be handy if you aren’t using allowances, or if you don’t want to split, say, a birthday check, in the same way that you’re splitting allowance payments — maybe your kids gets to spend more of their birthday money!

Click the Credit Accounts button, and you’re done.

Fill in the Split Credit Details

The End Result

If you browse the transactions for each split credit destination account, you’ll find an entry for the appropriate fractional credit. It’ll look something like this:

One of the Split Credit Transactions

We hope you’ll like the new Split Credit feature. Give it a spin, and let us know what you think.


The FamZoo Piggy Bank Challenge by 9 Year Old Game Designer, "Mr. Q"

Do you worry about the number of hours your child is frittering away playing online games? I know we do. But what if your child was spending that time designing and writing games instead of just playing them? That sounds a lot better, doesn’t it? It’s a creative challenge, and coding is a terrific skill for kids to learn in today’s software-driven world.

The FamZoo Piggy Bank Challenge GameToo hard you say? Not necessarily. Try a game-building tool like GameMaker from YoYo Games. Unleash your child on it (there’s a free “Lite” version), and see what happens. You might be very surprised. I know I was. All I did was give my 9 year old son, “Mr. Q.”, a FamZoo piggy image, and he did everything else on his own. Try your hand at his FamZoo Piggy Bank Challenge game below (if you can’t see it or it isn’t working for some reason, visit http://famzoo.com/games/piggyv1).

Check out how fast your little piggy’s legs move when you bag a speed boost, and watch out for the bombs! Let us know your high score in the comments — it’s the honor system!

Note: if you want to put your kid’s game up on the web like I’ve done in this blog post, you’ll need to buy the HTML5 version.

Has your child tried building any games? Tell us about it in the comments. Be sure to provide a link if it’s available online.


Teaching Kids About Money: Who Are the Experts?

FamZoo Lists on List.lyDo you have a favorite expert when it comes to teaching kids good personal finance habits? We’re compiling a curated list of the most credible and well-respected experts in this area.

I’ve primed the pump with an initial set.

Add your favorite. Vote for your favorites. You can do it right here in this embedded list. (Can’t see the embedded list? View it on List.ly here.)


Philanthropy and Mentoring: What FamZoo Is Really All About

I’ve been waiting patiently for Twitter to switch our @FamZoo account over to their new user interface which includes the “Embed this Tweet” feature. Well, today was the day. Now I can post my favorite pair of tweets.

With these two little chirps, Jose Lema captures what FamZoo is all about:

BirdWe’re harnessing the latest Internet technology to lower the effort bar for parents to mentor their kids in key life skills, like personal finance. That’s what we mean by our tag line: “Preparing kids for the wild.” Along the way, we have a “secret” ulterior motive — get kids involved in philanthropy, and make it a life long habit.

Validating tweets like these make the last 6 years worth all the effort. Onward and upward!

on | 10 COMMENTS

What is an Online Virtual Family Bank? How Do FamZoo IOU Accounts Work?

FamZoo's Online Bank Of Mom/DadFamZoo is an online “virtual family bank.”

Really? What is that? How does it work?

UPDATED 7/1/2013: When this post was originally written, FamZoo only supported IOU accounts which are described below. Since then, we have added support for prepaid card accounts so that real money can back each account and your child’s purchases can be automatically tracked. Now you can run your family banking system on either IOU accounts or prepaid card accounts — or a combination of the two. Click here to learn more.

Here’s how virtual family banking with IOU accounts works: Let’s say that your child, right now, has $30 in change in her piggy bank on her dresser and another $20 in birthday money in an envelope in her desk drawer. She hands you the actual money, and you, in turn, credit her FamZoo IOU account for $50. Congratulations! You’ve just become the “Bank of Mom/Dad,” and you’re now running your own virtual family bank. It’s still her money, but she’s just deposited it with you. She can see how much see has in your safekeeping at anytime by signing into FamZoo and looking at her IOU account balance.

Later, suppose you’re out with your child shopping, and she wants to buy something that you’ve decided she should pay for. You pay for it — cash, check, credit card, whatever works for you — and debit her FamZoo IOU account for that amount. She has effectively made a withdrawal and payment from her account at the “Bank of Mom/Dad.”

If you choose to give her an allowance (your call!), you can set that up to be automatic in FamZoo. You may even choose to have the amount split between multiple accounts — like spending, saving, and giving. You don’t have to remember to hand her cash every week; FamZoo will automatically deposit the amount you specify into her FamZoo accounts. Alternatively, you may choose to pay for regular chores, or just occasional “jobs” like babysitting, or maybe some mixture of those things. It’s your bank, your family, your values. You decide what’s appropriate. You make the rules!

The bottom line: balances in her FamZoo IOU accounts represent IOUs from you to her. You’re holding her money for her, just like your bank does for you when you deposit money with them.

Make sense? Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Leave a comment. We always love hearing from you.

When you’re ready, try setting up your own online virtual family bank on FamZoo. It’s a simple, safe, effective way to teach your child good personal finance habits through hands-on practice. You can try it FREE for two whole months — plenty of time to see if it works with your family. We don’t require any payment info up front for IOU accounts. Interested? Sign up here.


What Credit Union Leaders Say About Teaching Kids Good Money Habits With FamZoo

FamZoo at Filene's big.bright.mindsA few months ago, I was invited to demonstrate FamZoo’s online youth financial education solution to credit union innovation leaders and executives from across the US and Canada. They were assembled in Kansas City at the “big.bright.minds” meeting hosted by the Filene Research Institute. I was delighted to have the opportunity to demo FamZoo to such a motivated, innovative, high energy group. I was also intrigued to hear about all of the cutting edge projects driven by the Filene i3 working groups. Very cool.

After the meeting, Filene sent me all of the anonymous feedback on my presentation. (Attendees were able to submit comments on presentations in real time to an internal site.) It just dawned on me (umm, duh!) that this feedback is one of the most credible sources of testimonial information we can offer to credit unions who are deciding whether FamZoo is worth a look.

As proof of full transparency, I’m even including the handful of skeptical comments. Being a life-long engineering type, I’ve never been very comfortable with (or impressed by) much self-promotion, so that makes spreading the word about FamZoo a bit challenging at times. Since this comes directly from the mouths of attendees without any filtering on our part, I feel very good about passing it along.

Here are all of the comments verbatim.

Great tool to support credit union commitment to financial literacy.

Incredible concept, had to do this manually growing up and would have loved to have this! I see this going viral very quickly!

Absolutely love this idea! Can’t wait to talk to him more. Wonder if we can tie it to a gift card for older kids.

Really like the concept. It should create better members. I will certainly sign up as this serves a big need as a parent of 2 young boys. Great example of innovation and how it is created.

Totally sweet idea as a parent. Great tie for a credit union.

Love this! He is so passionate about this. Parents MUST teach this at a young age, if you wait until you have bills, budgeting it is SO overwhelming! Trust me. I am trying to figure it all out now. Financial education is so important.

FamZoo is a great idea and is of interest to us.

Oooh....we want this! I really like that this fit so well with our spend share save philosophy. Love that it involves the parents so thoroughly.

Love this for financial education for kids!

Great idea with a unique, applicable approach...we’ll be trying at home for sure!

Great product. I checked this out when I received my pre-reading.

I like the fact that this is an interactive education tool that ties back to daily life. I also like that it is driven by the family and not the Financial Institution. Need more time to see how it might fit with our brand/strategy. May have an interest in participating.

Very good presentation.

Like the concept. Ultimately we need to take all of this financial literacy stuff and consolidate.

Going to get this to my brothers and sisters for their kids to try I hope.

Great online content and partnering opportunity.

I believe experiential learning programs work far better than other educational approaches.

Wow. We couldn’t be more proud of those comments.

Now, to follow through on my promise of full disclosure, here are the handful of comments that registered anywhere south of positive, along with responses for each:

This will only work with very committed parents. I wonder if any parents have actually learned along with children. Many of their parents have never had any financial training.

I understand the concerns. At FamZoo, we know three key things viscerally from firsthand experience:

  1. All parents want to equip their kids with basic personal finance skills, particularly in today’s scary economic environment.
  2. Very, very few parents consider themselves financial experts.
  3. Parents are insanely busy. In fact, family life can be a real zoo! Get it?

We’ve designed FamZoo with these three realities firmly in mind. We help you pass along personal finance fundamentals to your kids with minimal prerequisite knowledge and minimal effort. It’s mostly about instilling very simple, sound financial habits through consistent practice.

Once you take a few minutes to set up FamZoo, the consistency comes along for the ride. That’s because many of the capabilities — allowance, compound interest, recurring payments, chore reminders, weekly progress reports, etc. — just chug along on auto-pilot while you’re off juggling family, work, and the rest of your busy life. From time to time, when those “financial moments” pop up with your child, FamZoo is right there for you — helping you encourage rational fiscal behavior without all the typical emotion.

Do parents learn right along with their kids? You bet. Even those parents with a firm grasp of financial concepts often find that the process of collaborating with their kids improves their own personal finance habits. It’s a cool added bonus.

I think it's novel and likely very applicable, but like PFM I don't know that it would be pervasively used.

Point taken, but it’s a lot less effort than your traditional PFM tool (and those tools are getting easier and easier to use every year I might add). Kids just don’t have that many transactions to track, and virtually everything else is on auto-pilot (see comments above). It’s also more than a PFM tool. As far as kids are concerned, FamZoo is their credit union, and it holds their money. Technically, the accounts aren’t real — an account balance just represents an IOU from the parent to the child — but to a kid, that account balance is very real indeed. As a result, FamZoo is a very “sticky” application once families get started.

Good learning tool for kids, but a bit over-the-top.

I admit it. I packed a lot into this demo, showing back-to-back scenarios from my kids’ real-life experiences ranging from their young years all the way up through college. So, I’m not surprised if some found the presentation to be a bit overwhelming. The nice thing is you can start super, super simple. Then, as your child matures, you can add sophistication gradually as desired.

FamZoo ShoesOr, maybe “over-the-top” was in reference to my neon FamZoo shoes. I’m afraid I don’t have a good defense for those...

Concerned about security and branding. Should a credit union let its member go somewhere else? What if a Bank buys Famzoo?

Security: First off, we don’t keep any real bank account or payment information stored anywhere on our servers. Nobody can get at your real money through FamZoo. Even so, we take security very seriously, because we value the privacy of our families. We use industry best practices and robust underlying technology to protect the personally identifiable information (like email addresses) for our users when they choose to supply it — optional in all cases except for the registering parent. Got a specific security concern? Just contact us to discuss.

Branding: Our Partner Edition allows you to easily mix in your own branding and targeted content along the top and sidebar of the FamZoo application pages using our self-service administrative console. You can also customize aspects of our default UI using your own (nerd alert!) CSS rules. Wondering if you can pull something off to meet your branding requirements? Contact us and let’s discuss.

Being bought by a bank: Really? Can’t imagine that scenario. We think that partnering with a wide array of credit unions, banks, financial advisors, and other financial organizations will help us spread good money habits to more families, more efficiently. That’s consistent with our mission. Being beholden to a single bank is not.

Can’t say it’s critical for the CU, but it should create better members.

Fair enough. FamZoo isn’t critical in the sense that your credit union can certainly function without it. But, credit unions operate to serve their members, not to maximize profit. So, if you’re genuinely interested in the well-being of your member families, believe in the importance of youth financial education, want to start connecting with your next generation members, and want to be top of mind when they transition to real world financial products, I know you (and your families) are going to like FamZoo.

It’s also super easy to roll out — no integration or IT fuss required.

FamZoo Partner Edition Live at AGCUOne of the big.bright.mind credit union attendees went live with FamZoo Partner Edition just last week. Will your credit union be next?

Need more info about FamZoo Partner Edition? What is it? How does it work? What does it look like? Why is it good for my credit union and my members? How do I roll it out on our site? Check out this post.

Ready to schedule a live demo for your credit union? CLICK HERE.

It's Not About Giving Allowance, Paying for Chores, or Insisting on a Job; It's About Being a Money Mentor

Parents — and even parenting experts — argue endlessly about the most appropriate source of income for kids. I really think they're missing the point, or at least half the equation. When it comes to a finite resource like money, it isn't just how you get it, it's also how you use it.

Read this personal story from guest blogger Daniel Forsyth of DaddyDirection.com, and you’ll see what I mean. Daniel brings the unique perspective of a (very) young new father who, in light of his own money struggles and lack of financial guidance growing up, is thinking about ways to avoid the same pattern with his son by being a proactive money mentor.

Check it out.

Make That Allowance Count by Daniel Forsyth

Daniel Forsyth of DaddyDirection.com
Guest blogger Daniel Forsyth is the leader and dad behind the dad-parenting blog www.daddydirection.com. Check out his blog for more money saving and dad specific techniques.
Everyone wants the best for their children. We want them to have a great, happy life growing up and continue with that experience later on in life. We want them to make the best decisions possible so they can have the life they want. It all comes down to what we as parents teach them. A huge aspect our kids will be faced with in life is financial decisions. My parents never talked to me about money, and therefore I ended up making some pretty bad, debt-piling decisions. Yes, at times I had an allowance and a job growing up. But is giving a kid a few bucks a week going to really teach them how to be smart with their money?

Being a young and brand new father, I have a huge goal in life to make sure my children know everything they can about money and how to use it properly. Some people might not see this as important or effective when it comes to kids, but let me give you some history. First, since I was never taught about saving money, I blew every single dollar I ever had. I would accumulate hundreds of dollars from birthdays and holidays and by the next week it was gone. In high school I was able to get a construction job. I was making $500 a week for 3 months every summer. That is about $6000 a summer and I did that for 3 summers. I still have not a penny to show for it. Then college came. I wanted to get away and as far as possible from home as I could. I got a scholarship to play soccer for a private school in Kansas. Even with the scholarship, I ended up paying a good $25,000+ a year for school. I will now be paying off student loans until I retire. Fortunately, I was never able to get a credit card, which I am sure would have been just as devastating. I would have spent that until I had debt collectors at my door every day. I had a part-time job in college. That did me no good as it went to needless food spending and social weekend activities. I should have just invested in Budweiser with how much money I gave them.

The problem was I saw my parents doing the same thing. My mom and stepfather never had any savings and lived paycheck to paycheck. They spent all their money on pointless things they couldn’t afford. They are now in their late 40’s and have not a thing to show for it. They now rely on my grandmother for money.

My dad and stepmother were different. They both had very well-paying jobs, making well into 6 figures each year. Still, they never talked to me about money. They were never crazy spenders, but they had the money, so why would there be a need to live on a budget? I had four sisters growing up (one stepsister the same age and 3 younger). We were all well fed and taken care of, but I now see them making the same exact mistakes I did.

So how do we avoid this? How do we, as parents, get our kids to avoid such pitfalls and debt?

We can start by starting small. Try to apply how you save and spend your money to them. Give them an allowance, but teach them how to save it. Make them think logically and thoroughly before they buy something.

Start with an allowance

Tour33PSPAI have heard many people don’t like giving an allowance and kids should just work for the roof over their head and the food on the table. On the other side, I have heard parents think it is great to give kids money for doing work around the house. I grew up in a divorced household, which means my mom gave me an allowance for chores while my dad thought I needed to earn my right to live. I saw both sides of the allowance situation. Since I was not taught to save or spend wisely, I spent my money on candy and unnecessary toys. If I was taught to use money, an allowance would have been much more beneficial.

Set goals

Delayed GratificationAnother thing I was never taught: setting savings goals. I racked up quite a few hundred dollars each holiday and birthday. None of it went to savings, and it all went to junk I did not need. Then my job hit and I became an even larger spender.

When you start giving your kids their money or allowance, sit down with them and have them think about some things they want. Write down 3 things and list them with the “want” they want the most first. Put it next to their piggy bank or where they can always see it. Each week, have them write down how much they have and how much they still need for their “want.”

Another way is to buy some things you know they want ahead of time. Buy a box of those Legos or dolls they want and separate them into equal bags. Make sure your child knows each bag costs X dollars, let’s say $5 for example. At the end of the week, have them check their money to see if they earned enough that week to buy a bag. If they are close, maybe negotiate with them and see if they want an extra job or two to do.

Teach them interest

Teach Your Kids the Power of Saving with Compound InterestInterest can generally be seen as a negative concept. We buy something on credit and end up paying hundreds more than the original price. But, what about your savings or retirement accounts? They accumulate interest over time. The more you save and put in, the more you make on interest.

Give your kids the same incentive to save their money. Work out a ratio, such as a quarter for every $5 they have saved each week. Teach them that the more they save, then the more quarters you will have to give them. Do they want to waste $5 on that toy now or wait and have $5.25 at the end of the week? This idea will help them save more because they will realize there is more money waiting for them if they save.

If you teach your kids to grow up making smart financial decisions, it will carry on for the rest of their lives. They will always remember to think twice about buying something and think about the implications of buying now or saving for later.

As we say on the FamZoo Philosophy page: “we believe a parent is a child’s best mentor.” Kudos to Daniel for taking that role seriously at such an early age. We wish Daniel the best of luck with his young family. Follow his progress at DaddyDirection.com.

Do you have some of your own favorite tips on being an effective money mentor? Share them with us below.