Two New Featurelets: Capping Interest and Displaying Account Descriptions

Cap Interest PaymentsWe rolled out two handy little features (aka “featurelets”) this week as part of our upgrade:

  • the ability to enforce a maximum amount on interest payments, and
  • the display of account descriptions on the Transactions page.

I put together two short Quick Tip videos to show you how you can use each of the new featurelets.

Putting a Cap on Interest

If you’re giving your kid a super awesome compound interest rate on a virtual savings account, you’ll want to check out this new feature.

It’s a cap or maximum on interest payments, so the amounts you’re paying out don’t get too out of hand as your youngster saves more and more over time.

Check out the Quick Tip video to see how it works:

Displaying Account Descriptions

Have you ever wished the description you entered when creating an account could be displayed somewhere in FamZoo where your child could see it?

Maybe you’re using the account for some special or unusual purpose and you want to make that clear.

Now you can with a new feature that displays the account description — if there is one — at the top of the Transactions page.

Check out the Quick Tip video to see how it works:

Questions? Comments? Contact Us

We hope you have fun with the new featurelets.

And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We always love hearing from you.


The Bank of Rogers: Tackling the Teen Allowance Conundrum

Bank of RogersOver at the SchoolFamily blog, GoodNCrazy Mom, Carissa Rogers, asks: How do you “help your kids learn the value of money and the value of work?”

Carissa is grappling with the perfect teen financial storm: movies, mascara, shoes, and...the $450 band trip — all of which her 14 year old daughter promises to pay back. Honest!

Really? How’s her daughter going to earn all that money? The answer: selling “crappy” chocolate, toiling through items on the “Ask Dad” list (I suspect cleverly re-purposed by Papa Rogers from the honey do list), detailing the family wagon, and eternal babysitting duty. Read the clever details here.

Sounds like a thoughtful plan. But how do you know when “pay-back day” finally arrives? How to you track all those earnings, purchases, and IOUs with minimal fuss? The answer: set up a virtual family bank — the “Bank of Rogers” in this case.

Here’s how we set up the “Bank of Rogers” on FamZoo.

Initial Setup: Spend/Save/Give Allowance

First, let’s assume that before the perfect storm hit, the Rogers’ daughter was cruising along covering her “wants” with one of our typical default setups: the classic “Pocket Money” allowance split between spending, saving, and giving.

Initial Setup: Spend/Save/Give Allowance

Here’s what Carissa’s Overview page might look like with the typical Spend-Save-Give plan in place:

Parent Overview After Setup

Everyday “wants” (or “needs” if your frontal lobe is of the teen variety), come out of her daughter’s General Spending account.

"Wants" Come Out of Spending Account

Parent and daughter can track the automatic allowance deposits, the purchases, and the running balance in the account transaction history. Here’s what it might look like after movies and mascara.

Spending Transaction History

How About Those Shoes?

Nope! Your daughter can’t afford those $70 shoes just yet. She can create a savings goal for the shoes, and use the Savings Planner to see how long it will take to afford them. Looks like it will take just over one and a half months if she saves all of the spending portion of her allowance from here on out. She’ll just have to wait.

Shoe Savings Plan

What About the $450 Band Trip?

Now this one’s a bit different from the shoes. Carissa probably had to make the payment up front for the trip, but her daughter doesn’t have enough money in her General Spending account to pay her Mom back right away. Now what?

Let’s create a separate account to represent the amount to be paid back. It will allow us to track the daughter’s payments over time. Just click on a Create Account link. When signed in as a parent, you can find them on the Overview page or the Accounts page. You’ll get a form like this:

Band Trip Account

Here’s what the Overview page will look like with the new Band Trip account created:

Parent Overview With Band Trip Account

How’s She Going to Pay for This?

So how is the daughter going to pay her parents back for the band trip? Well, garnishing her weekly allowance is a good place to start. Visit the Allowance listing page on the Bank tab. Hover over the allowance with the mouse until you see the pencil icon, and click on it to bring up the Edit Allowance Form:

Edit the Allowance

Adjust the split percentages to put some portion of her weekly allowance toward paying off the trip. That means less money will go towards “wants” — like movies, mascara, and new shoes — until the trip is paid off.

Adjust Split Percentages

How Long Is That Going to Take?

To see just how long this sacrifice will last, navigate to the Savings Goals page on the Bank tab and click on the Create link. Fill in the fields to create a goal that will track progress towards paying off the debt. I.e., it will track the balance in the Band Trip account as it goes from -$450 to $0.

Create Savings Goal for Paying Back Band Trip

Visit the Savings Planner page on the Bank tab to see how long it will take to pay back the IOU. If she allocates 50% of her allowance each week, it will take over a year. Ouch!

Pay Back Time with 50% Allowance

What if she’s able to earn an extra $20 per week on top of that? Editing the assumptions accordingly in the Savings Planner, we can see that would pull it in to under 4 months. Much better!

Down to 4 Months

Where’s She Going to Get That Extra Money?

So where’s that extra money going to come from each week? Odd jobs around the house. Dad would be more than happy to offload some items that have been lounging on his honey do list. So, he visits the Checklist tab and clicks on the Create link to create the “Ask Dad” task list.

Create "Ask Dad" Chart

Then he clicks on the Add Item link to pop tasks on the list. Each has an appropriate reward that is automatically credited to the Band Trip account when checked off.

Add One Time Tasks

If the task is more than a one-time deal, he can fill in the repeat options as appropriate.

Add Repeating Tasks

Ready to Work!

Here’s what the daughter’s “Ask Dad” task list looks like after it’s all set up:

The "Ask Dad" List

And, here’s what it looks like with a few items completed:

Check Off Completed Tasks

Eternal Babysitting

As for babysitting, perhaps the parents would be willing to cut a deal in which the daughter retains 25% of those wages for spending on “wants” while the remaining 75% goes to paying off the band trip debt. To formalize that agreement and make the crediting of babysitting wages simple, Carissa can go to the Allowance/Splits page on the Bank tab and click on the Create Split link. She can record the split in the following form:

Agree on 75/25 Babysitting Split

Then, whenever she needs to make a babysitting payment, she can credit both accounts at once. Just click on a Split Credit link on the Overview or Bank tab, enter the total amount, and select the Babysitting Split. The total amount will be automatically split between the two accounts in the right proportion.

Use Split Credit Form for Babysitting

The Small Picture

Parents and daughter alike can sign in to review the running balance and the detailed earnings history. Here’s the transaction history for the Band Trip account after completing some “Ask dad” tasks and some babysitting:

Account History

And here’s what the daughter sees when she signs into the “Bank of Rogers” and checks out her Overview page:

Teen Overview

The Big Picture

But, the really big picture comes into play when the daughter reaches the pay-off moment. Paying off a $450 band trip is a tremendous accomplishment for a 14 year old. It takes discipline, and it’s undeniably something to be proud of.

The Pay-Off Moment

And, who knows? There may be an epiphany or two along the way when it comes to spending and priorities. Bonus!

The Shoe Epiphany

Yes, Mom, you can dream!


Original post removed. Issue resolved.

This issue previously described by this post has now been resolved. We truly appreciate the refreshingly candid explanation we received from the company’s CEO as well as the prompt resolution of the matter. Case closed.


Issue Resolved. Onward!


How to Create a Non-Monetary Reward System for Your Child in FamZoo

Many parents have philosophical and/or financial concerns when it comes to rewarding their kids with money for helping around the house. Did you know you can use FamZoo accounts and checklists to create a nice non-monetary, non-material reward system? You can even mix’n match it with a monetary system like allowance or paid chores if desired.

Here’s how.

Note: click on the images to view larger sizes. You can also view them in slide show format here.

Create an account to track reward points

You’ll find a Create Account link in the footer of the Account Balances summary on the Overview page. Be sure to name the account something like “Reward Points” to emphasize that we’re talking about redeemable points here and not dollars.

Create an account to track reward points

Create a list of the opportunities available for earning rewards

Head over to the Checklist page and find the Create List link in the upper left corner. Create a list and name it something like “Earn Rewards.” Click the Add Item link to add each of the opportunities you’ll be giving your child to earn points that can be subsequently redeemed for rewards.

Create a list of the opportunities available for earning rewards

Fill in opportunity name, availability, and point value

For each earning opportunity you add — like perhaps cleaning a toilet — fill in it’s name and it’s repeat frequency to indicate how often it can be done. Don’t worry so much about what specific day it falls on; we’re really just recording whether this earning opportunity is available every day, one or more times a week, every other week, etc. (Note: To keep things clutter-free in the All Open view of your checklist, fill in the Expires setting to make sure old opportunities that your child never capitalized on just fall off the list after they pass by.) Assign a point total to be accumulated in your child’s Reward Points account. The absolute dollar amount doesn’t matter. What matters is it’s size relative to other opportunities and the total points required to cash in on a reward. You’ll be advertising those reward totals on the chart in the next step.

Describe each opportunity including how often it's available and how many points it's worth.

Create a list of rewards

Create a second list that contains the rewards you’re willing to offer in exchange for points your child has earned. These can be items that may not cost you a thing, but are nonetheless very valuable to your child — maybe staying up an extra hour on a non-school night, getting an extra hour of computer time, or having a sleepover with friends.

Create a list of the rewards for which points can be redeemed.

Fill in reward name, availability, and point cost

For each reward on the list, fill in its name, availability, and the total points required to get it.

Describe each reward, how often it's available, and how many points it costs.

See history and running total on Transactions page

Now your non-monetary reward system is all set to go. When your child completes one of the items around the house, just check it off the “Earn Rewards” list to automatically credit the Reward Points account balance with the amount earned. When your child earns enough points and calls in a reward, just check it off the “Redeem Rewards” list to automatically debit the balance with the total points redeemed.

You and your kids can always see the current Reward Points account balance on the Overview page. When you click on the balance, you’ll navigate to the Transactions page where you can see a history showing each time your child earned and redeemed points, along with a running point total on the right hand side.

See the history and the running point total in the Reward Points account.