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The Bank of Boogie: FamZoo Mom Sandra H. Describes Her Virtual Family Bank

The Bank Of BoogieFor the last two years, a mom named Sandra H. has been using FamZoo with her son, Kellan — aka “Boogie.” (And, no I didn’t ask about the origin of that nickname!) Sandra’s been pleased with FamZoo, so she decided to tell her good friend K., a fellow parent, how it works in an email.

Sandra was kind enough to forward a copy of the email to us. I was blown away. It’s the most epic referral ever. A few of my favorite quotes:

This software doesn’t make you go in every day... There are times I don’t go into the software for weeks at a time, but it is up to date as soon as I log in.
It is a great tool to show them how to NOT throw away money.
He will look and see if he really wants to spend his own money on something, and quite frankly he treats it better when it comes out of his own account.
I really love it. Of course, I still buy things for Kellan but when he wants something just because he wants it, it is interesting to see just how much he truly wants it and whether he will spend HIS money getting it.
No “I didn’t ....yes you did....blah blah blah.” It is all right here.
For a while, I was splitting the fee with him, but then I showed him I would pay for it as a gift. But the gift is actually for me. This thing is awesome.

Sandra gave me permission to share the full email. So, in Sandra’s own words (verbatim including screen shots from her actual email), here’s how the “Bank of Boogie” works:

From: Sandra H.
To: K.
Date: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM
Subject: have you seen this.....

hi...i will talk to you about this more, but i wanna show it to you because it is actually very cool. it is famzoo.com boogie and i have been using it for about 2 years. it basically is a really fun on-line accounting of allowances/gifts/earnings.... great colorful website with fun avatars and colors and graphs to keep it interesting. it allows you to set a specified amount and distribute it into the accounts on the time-frame you choose. for example....boogie gets $10 a week....here is how it plays out. you can set the amounts/percentages and accounts however you would like. i have it set for 4 accounts and it drops in midnight each friday. here is how his $10 a week allowance plays out......

Allowance Allocation

$5 goes to general spending, $4 goes to long term savings, 50cents to charitable (which by the way paid for the bicycle donation to the xmas family last year)

Bicycle Donation Transaction

and 50cents to tax (just to get him used to earning money and seeing it leave his account for absolutely no good reason whatsoever other than ‘cuz you have to’......) i make up for it though by giving him 2.7% monthly interest on his long term savings account (yeah....THAT’S how to groom a future Deal Structure Banker!!!!)

Monthly Savings Interest Deposit

there are things that became ‘problematic’ in our household (leaving clothes in front of the shower door) and as soon as i checked it two times in two days and kellan ‘saw’ the red color subtract money out of his account, amazingly enough, he quit throwing his clothes on the floor. we have ‘agreed upon penalties’ in the defaults. this software doesn’t make you go in every day, just on the days you want to add or subtract an amount....click the box and it applies it...in red...for all to see. that’s the best part. you set up the defaults and if you need to check to add, check it. or if you need to check as a penalty, it will do that too. there are times i don’t go into the software for weeks at a time, but it is up to date as soon as i log in. the shower thing made me check in each day but it solved the problem in 48 hours too, so that was well worth it.

Penalty Transactions

it is a great tool to show them how to NOT throw away money. kellan was sitting with my dad one night and he rubbed his feet. he asked me to rub his feet and i said no. he said “i will give you 20 bucks to rub my feet for 1 minute”. i explained how ridiculous that was and what a waste of money it was and yet he still agreed to the charge...so i rubbed his feet. then i posted this

Foot Rubbing Charge

and he SAW the impact spending 20 bucks had and i can assure you, he has never ever done something like that again.....especially when he also saw he could have used his 20 bucks again like this....

Lego Purchase Transaction

kellan bought minecraft yesterday, so we went in and added it as a debit to his general spending account.

Minecraft Purchase Transaction

and he is okay with that. the number to the right is the new balance in that account. it has a pretty big impact. he will look and see if he really wants to spend his own money on something and quite frankly he treats it better when it comes out of his own account.

anyway...i thought you might want to see it. you can go in at any time and see totals....

Account Listing

and you can see these in pie charts, bar graphs, historical charts or a number of ways.

Allowance/Account Diagram

the key is....i don’t carry cash. handing boogie cash does NOTHING to show him fiscal responsibility. zip. also....it’s “uh, did i get my allowance....” or “no, you just bought a lego last week”....no “i didn’t ....yes you did....blah blah blah”....it is all right here. for a while i was splitting the fee with him (5.99 a month SEE BETTER OPTIONS HERE) but then i showed him i would pay for it...as a gift...but the gift is actually for me....this thing is awesome. it doesn’t put actual MONEY in the account, it puts the accounting into practice. so as long as i currently have $883.58 (according to the chart above) in an account somewhere, then i am good.

sorry for the long email...it’s just a very cool thing that maybe you want to play with for a couple months with your kids.... i think they even have a free two month trial period...no obligation. cancel any time. but i really love it. of COURSE, i still buy things for kellan but when he wants something just because he wants it, it is interesting to see just how much he truly wants it and whether he will spend HIS money getting it...

and heck...not picking up clothes in front of the shower alone is worth it!!!!!

haha. talk to you soon.

Sandra, you tell the FamZoo story better than I ever could!

Thank you for being such a fabulous FamZoo ambassador, and, more importantly, thank you for using FamZoo with your family.


8 Bad Parent Money Messages, 48% Pay for Grades, Be a Frugality Mentor: Family Finance Picks #53

48% of Parents Pay Their Kids for Good GradesBeen a while (a year in fact!) since the last installment, but it’s baaaack!

My top three family finance picks of the week from around the web are:

8 Bad Things You’re Teaching Your Kids About Money

Are you inadvertently sending any of these 8 money messages to your child? It’s interesting to consider how you’re handling each. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a few moments to explain or show what’s going on to your youngster.

Average Allowance $65 A Month

A recent AICPA survey of parents with kids in school shows 48% of them pay their kids for good grades. Are you surprised by the size of that percentage? Check out the other highlights from the survey here here.

30 Signs That You Were Raised by Frugal Parents

Are you a frugality mentor to your kids? Anyone else remember Green Stamps? (See number 17 on the list.) Loved those! I always remember my Dad comparing price per ounce in the market. You?

We’re constantly scouring the Internet looking for articles related to family finances and teaching kids good personal finance habits. You can visit our ever growing list of family finance bookmarks here. We’re up to 2,807 now!


Ask Doctor G: How Do We Teach Our Children to Make the World a Better Place?

At FamZoo, we’re fond of saying that philanthropy is our (not so) “secret ulterior motive.” Are you looking for effective ways to get your youngsters into the giving habit? Whether it’s giving stuff, money, or time, our guest blogger, Deborah Gilboah, MD — aka Doctor G — has a generous supply of advice for you and your budding philanthropist.


Do you ever look at your beautiful child, and think “We are so lucky. How can I teach you to really appreciate that and to help others?” Young children are generous by nature (unless it’s their toy or snack of course), and bring smiles to others with little effort. You can harness that energy and openness and teach your child through action how to find opportunities to improve the world. Older children see the flaws in our society. You can harness that clarity and motivate tweens and teens to change the world!

Even before children can articulate ideas like responsibility or compassion, you can help them discover that helping others feels good. Once kids internalize that experience, they will look for more chances to help others. As children get older, they see so many inconsistencies in the world and want to make big changes. Learning that they can effect change builds self-esteem and raises a generation of kids who will look for ways to fix problems. As you work to teach children that they can manage their own money, this builds their confidence in contributing to goodness in the world!

Giving Stuff

Give StuffOur kids often have a surplus of stuff. As they outgrow clothes, transition away from a sport or hobby, or develop beyond certain toys and games, we seek to recycle or donate those items. Involving children and teens in this process teaches great lessons.

  1. Encourage your children to go through their cast offs, deciding what is too stained or worn to give away and what could be appreciated by someone else.
  2. Bring kids to the donation site so they can understand more about the cycle of goods in our world. Also, introducing them to second-hand stores is a great financial lesson!
  3. You might consider giving them a “tax break” for donating, or at least explaining the tax breaks adults get.

Giving Money

Donate MoneyDo your children set aside some of their income (allowance or babysitting money, etc) for donation? If this is a part of your family’s ethic, here are some ways and reasons to encourage them:

  1. Offer a 1:1 match. Like a benevolent employer, can you match whatever they donate to a non-profit? If your child wants to bring canned goods for the food drive, will you buy an equal number of cans to what they purchase to double their donation? If you child raises money for the American Heart Association, will you meet their contributions? What a great way to help them do good and prove your values!
  2. Honor their passion by helping them research organizations. If you child loves animals, teach them how to look critically at the groups helping animals. How much of their donation will go to care, and how much will be funneled back into administrative costs?
  3. Involve your whole family in some of your own donation decisions. Even without telling your kids how much you donate, you can give them a voice in what percentage of your giving goes to different causes. If you are donating some to your school or house of worship, they will learn about the needs these organizations have and why you value them.

Giving Time

Give TimeThere are many opportunities to serve others in your community. Consider your child’s age and interests, and the service organizations in your neighborhood.

  • For the youngest children, the very act of playing — that thing they do best — will brighten the day of seniors at your local senior center or retirement home.
  • Does your child love to sing or dance or do karate? If your child is in a class, even a very beginner class, ask the instructor if they would do one class at the closest veterans’ hall or physical rehabilitation center. The children will do what they always do, but the group you visit will get a special experience.
  • Have an animal lover? Find an older adult in your neighborhood who might like a dog walker. Or see if an animal shelter has needs for volunteers to help clean or feed or exercise smaller pets.
  • Have you taught your child chores around the house? Look for a place he could do that same chore to help others. For example, most food kitchens require kids to be 12 to help serve meals, and they will allow families with younger kids to come in and set the tables before the clients arrive. What a great way to use table setting skills (and the plates are usually plastic!). Can your little one pick up litter? Get pairs of disposable gloves (preschoolers love these!) and go clean up their favorite playground.

There are so many ways that our kids can help others, we need only think about a time and a place we’d like to help them make a difference. Making a difference will not only build their sense of responsibility towards others, it will build their resilience and self-confidence as well!

About the Author

Deborah Gilboah, MD. - aka Doctor G.Doctor G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) is a board certified Family Physician, Parenting Speaker and mother of four boys. As founder of AskDoctorG.com, an online resource for parents and educators working to raise respectful, responsible and resilient kids, she offers live seminars to groups of parents around the country. Download Doctor G’s free tool Community Service Guide for Every Age. To learn more about her work and how it can empower you, please contact her, or find her on Twitter or Facebook!


How to Access Your Chore Charts from the iPhone and the Droid

NOTE: As of September 2013, we now have mobile screens designed specifically for checklists, so this tip is no longer necessary for this particular case. It is, however, still a valid tip for accessing those parts of FamZoo do not have mobile screens yet.

FamZoo for the iPhone: Account BalancesDid you know we have a mobile version of FamZoo that works on the iPhone and the Droid?

If so, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t have mobile screens for everything just yet — and that includes checklists. So, how do you check off chores or to-do items quickly when you’re on the go? Here’s a little trick I use myself that makes it super convenient. (If you can’t see the video, click here or see the steps below.)

Step 1: Sign into FamZoo.com on your mobile browser

  • Fire up your mobile browser on the iPhone or the Droid.
  • Visit famzoo.com.
  • Swipe up to the Sign In button in the upper right corner.
  • Tap on it and sign in (if you haven’t already)
  • You’ll land on the mobile version of the accounts screen — which you’ve probably seen before if you’re familiar with our mobile interface.

Step 2: Get to the Desktop UI

  • Now here’s the trick: swipe all the way down to the bottom, and you’ll find the Desktop UI link.
  • Tap on it.
  • Now you’ll see the full screens that you typically see on your desktop browser.

Step 3: Bookmark the Checklists Tab

  • Swipe over to the Checklists tab, and tap on it.
  • Zoom in on your favorite checklist to get it just the way you like it. If it’s something like a chore chart, you may want to select the Due Today viewing link to zero in on the most relevant items.
  • Now here’s the other part of the trick: to make it super easy to get back to your checklist each time, you can add it it as a bookmark that sits on your home screen. Getting to this menu item from your mobile browser will be slightly different depending on whether you’re on an iPhone or a Droid. On the iPhone, look for the Add to Home menu item. When you’re on your droid, create a bookmark via the menu, then find it in the bookmark list, long-press on it, and tap Add shortcut to home.
  • Now, you’ll be able to get right back to your favorite Checklist with a single tap on the new bookmark icon on your home screen.

And that’s our quick tip for getting to your FamZoo checklists from your mobile browser. We will be adding true mobile screens for checklists in the future, but I hope that workaround will keep you going in the meantime.

Contact us with any questions or comments. We’re always happy to help.