FamZoo Money Management 101: Start Here With Kids and Teens

Map to financially responsible cardholder
“Be prepared.” ~ Scout Motto

Before your child ventures out into the financial woods with their new FamZoo card, be sure to cover these money management basics together.

Debit Card 101

Let’s start with the card itself: a reloadable prepaid debit card with a secure EMV chip.

  • Note the numbers. Make sure your child knows all 11 important numbers described here
  • Sharing is not caring! When it comes to card information, sharing is a big no-no. Review the tips for keeping card information secure here.
  • Dip the chip. Demonstrate how to insert the card chip-first, face-up into a card reader on a point of sale device at a store and to wait for the acknowledgment message on the reader’s screen. The card also has a magnetic stripe that can be swiped, but dipping the chip is far more secure.
  • Tap the phone. The most secure way to transact is to use a digital wallet, like Apple Pay. If your child has a smartphone with a digital wallet, help them add their FamZoo card. Coach your child to look for the contactless payment symbol (a hand holding a card with radiating waves) on the card reader and how to complete a transaction by holding the phone nearby.
  • Debit versus credit. Explain how the card can be run as either CREDIT or DEBIT in a store. If CREDIT, they may be asked for a signature. If DEBIT, they may be asked for a PIN. I say “may”, because it depends on how the merchant configures the point of sale device. Many merchants choose to let small dollar amount transactions go through without a signature or PIN for consumer convenience. In all cases, the card ultimately behaves like a prepaid debit card — meaning (ignoring some very unusual exceptions), you can’t spend more than the amount loaded on the card. Attempting to do so results in a harmless no-fee decline.
  • Online and in-app. Show kids the card information they’ll need to conduct e-commerce online or in apps: the card number on the face, the expiration date, the security code on the back, and billing address info. Explain how address verification works — especially in a split household.

FamZoo App 101

The FamZoo application and its educational tools can be accessed via any modern browser on any device by visiting famzoo.com. It can also be accessed via the FamZoo iPhone app, the FamZoo Android app, or even text messages using FamZoo Quick Commands.

  • Download the app. If your child has an iPhone or Android phone, have them download the FamZoo app.
  • Sign in. Show your child how to sign in with your registered family name along with their member name and password (not yours). If you have forgotten the credentials you assigned to your child when ordering the cards, you can sign in as the parent and update them on the Member Settings form under Settings > Members. When signed in as a child, kids can only see their own cards and transactions. Kids cannot move money around between cards or change money related settings. Conversely, anyone signed in as a parent can see all the cards in the family, move money around, and monkey with any setting. So, don’t let your kids sign in as you!
  • Mobile versus desktop screens. FamZoo has mobile screens that are optimized for smaller devices and desktop screens that are built for larger devices with roomy displays. Some less frequently used functions are only found in the desktop screens, but you can still access the desktop screens from your phone. See here for how to switch between the mobile and desktop views on your phone.
  • Stay alert. Set up activity alerts on the Account Settings form under Bank > Accounts so that both you and your child receive notifications whenever something happens on the card — even unsuccessful purchase attempts.
  • Show them the money! Enough talk. Time to deliver the goods:
    1. Sign into FamZoo as the parent.
    2. Visit the Accounts screen.
    3. Select the plus (+) icon next to your kid’s card.
    4. Fill in the Credit Account form with a modest amount (less than the balance on your parent card) along with a clever description.
    5. Select the Credit Account button.
    Viola! Funds transfer instantly. If activity alerts are enabled, your child should hear a satisfying “ding” and see a notification of the activity. Now, have your child:
    1. Sign into FamZoo.
    2. Locate the new non-zero card balance on the Accounts screen.
    3. Select the balance to drill down to the card’s transaction history.
    4. Locate the new entry on the Transactions screen.
    If your child is not suitably impressed by the free bonus and your clever message, you can pull the funds back with the minus (-) icon. 🤣

Earning 101

Unfortunately, real financial life isn’t just a series of unearned bonuses. Discuss how your child should expect to get paid. Choose any combination of options that fits your family’s situation:

  • As needed. Just use the plus (+) icon like you did above to proactively move funds to your child as you deem appropriate.
  • As requested. Show your child how to sign in and use the arrow icon next to their card to initiate a Money Request. Your child fills in a form pleading their case. You receive a notification containing a link that you can select to approve, partially approve, or deny their request.
  • On a schedule. Set up an allowance under Bank > Allowances/Splits to deliver money at regular intervals.
  • When chores are completed. Deliver money when chores are checked off. Or, claw allowance money back when they aren’t with chore penalties. Read all about setting up chore checklists here.
  • When odd jobs are claimed first. Let multiple kids compete for odd jobs and pay the first one to seize the opportunity. See how to set up first dibs charts here.
  • When paychecks are earned from an employer. Kids who land part time or summer jobs can have employers direct-deposit paychecks right to their FamZoo cards. Parents can locate the routing and account numbers for direct deposit on the Card Information screen.

Spending 101

Now, it’s time to set the ground rules for responsible and safe spending.

  • Tout transparency. Remind your child that you’ll be receiving real-time alerts for every single purchase attempt — just like they do 😬. Remind your child that you can browse the full transaction history. Remind your child that you can see nitty-gritty details about each transaction — precise purchase time, the merchant category, etc. — by selecting the little status lozenge next to a transaction. Needless to say, your transparency grand tour will make your child think twice before getting too “adventurous” with the card. This is the best way to nip a lot of spending shenanigans (and embarrassment) at the bud.
  • See something, say something. If you see unexpected activity, lock the card right away so you can discuss it with your child and protect the funds until any issues are resolved. Review these 5 important tips for tracking down unexpected or unwanted transactions.
  • Check the balance first. Excessive declines for insufficient funds can land a card on our card processor’s fraud detection radar which often results in an account block. So, remind your child to check the card balance before each purchase.
  • Troubleshoot failed transactions. Having trouble with the card? Failed attempts show up in the transaction history annotated with a red “Declined” lozenge. Select the lozenge to see the reason for the decline and what to do about it.
  • Identify reimbursables. Agree that you’ll reimburse certain types of purchases — maybe reasonable lunch expenses, books, or essential clothing costs. The deal is that your child has to buy them first and then seek reimbursement afterwards by selecting the curved reimbursement icon next to the transaction. I love this approach for two reasons: (1) kids learn how much everyday items cost because they are making the purchases themselves, and (2) kids must maintain a healthy card balance in order to purchase the item in the first place. Two excellent benefits rolled into one simple feature.

Saving 101

Make saving interesting with parent-paid compound interest.

  1. Order up a separate savings card.
  2. Configure it to have an aggressive parent-paid interest rate.
  3. Turn on activity alerts for the card.

Once your kid starts getting alerts each week showing the awesome Bank of Mom/Dad interest they’re earning, they’ll understand the power of compound interest firsthand. Before long, they’ll be requesting transfers from their spending card to their savings card to capitalize on your largess. Be sure to check out the interest cap setting to keep the Bank of Mom/Dad solvent! 💰


There’s a lot more to explore, but the basics above will get your child headed down the right path toward financial responsibility. Just reach out if you get lost in the woods from time to time.

Let the journey begin!

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