Review: Family Mint
One of the things that I — along with many of you, I bet — failed to learn before leaving home, either in school or at home, is any degree of skill in the area of money management. Family Mint seeks to rectify that with today’s kids, offering a free online money management application for kids. You, the parent, act as the bank, but the kids can manage their money themselves via Family Mint.
Essentially, it works like this: The kids give you their money — allowances, payment for work done for others, gift money, etc. — then, mark their “deposit” in their Family Mint account. No actual money transactions take place online. As far as anyone else is concerned, the funds on the Family Mint site are virtual money. When the kids want to make a withdrawal, they enter the transaction, which you have to approve or deny. If approved, you give the kids their money.
Now, this wouldn’t work for my family for a few reasons:
- We don’t pay our kids an allowance.
- If we did pay our kids, I wouldn’t want to keep their money for them because there is a strong possibility that I would spend it. (Now you know — I’m a spender.)
- I prefer to let the kids handle their own cash, rather than me approving or denying their “transactions.” Nothing teaches a kid to appreciate money more than blowing it on junk and not having any when something they really want comes along.
That being said, there are some nifty features to Family Mint, which is bright and colorful and full of bells and whistles. Some of the fun things you can do with Family Mint are:
- Set up a savings plan for a specific goal. You or your child can enter the dollar amount of the goal along with the deadline and receive a breakdown of how much the child needs to save each week to reach the goal.
- Set interest rates to reward saving.
- Fund matching. If your child is saving toward a certain goal and you’ve agreed to match funds, you can set the program up to reflect this.
One thing I thought would be fun to do with Family Mint would be to simulate monthly living expenses for a teen. You could have your teen search for a job in the paper and set up a mock pay scale — with direct deposit, of course — based on that job. He could then shop for an apartment, a car, insurance, and groceries. You would, of course, want to make sure he received his bills each month — electricity, water, cable, gas, etc. And, of course, those unexpected things, such as car trouble or doctor bills would probably come up. That could be a fun, hands-on way for a teen to learn about budgeting and living expenses.
So, while this site wouldn’t be a good fit for my family to use with regards to its intended purpose, I do see some ways that we could still make use of it once I’m comfortable with the privacy and terms of service issues. Please use your own discretion in deciding whether or not the application would be a good choice for your family.
Thanks for the review. By the way, you can uncheck the approval required boxes in Bank Settings and allow your children to use FamilyMint as a budgeting and tracking tool.