To keep things useful, I’ll focus on what I discovered while playing around with the site and also evaluate how it stacks up against the criteria we set at the start of our review of online allowance trackers and virtual family banks.
First up, here’s a video which gives an overview of FamilyMint:
There is a free version of FamilyMint and a premium version for $24.00 per year (or $4.95 per month). Frankly, the free version (which is supported by ads) is a waste of time as you can’t set up automatic payment of the allowance (which is one of the basic reasons why people sign up for online allowance trackers). So, the rest of this post will look at the premium version only. For a comparison of what you get for the two options, FamilyMint has a handy guide here. The good news is that you get a free 14 day trial of the premium version from the start so you can take it for a worthwhile test ride.
As with the other sites, there’s a parents’ section and a kids’ section, each with their own separate log in. Here’s what the parents’ section looks like which has been set up for just one child:
For parents who like the Spend-Save-Share approach to allowances, you can use the Create Goal button to create a Spending account, a Savings account and a Sharing account. You can also use the Savings Plan button to assign specific portions of the allowance to different accounts or goals.
This is more confusing than some other sites as each Goal has a tracker showing how far along you are to your goal. If you don’t have a goal amount for your Sharing account, then it just shows up as an empty line. You can see the effect in the College account that I set up. So, FamilyMint gets points for flexibility but the end result isn’t as clean as it could be.
You (or your child) can personalize their page with an image from the stock photos available on FamilyMint or they can upload their own picture. Parents can also give their bank a special name.
All transactions can be entered by the child or the parent and they have to be approved by the parent – you can see that there is one withdrawal which has yet to be approved for $4.00 at the bottom in this example. One thing that I found annoying is that the parent has to approve the transaction even if it was entered by the parent.
I also found it confusing how they say that the “spendable amount” is $81.00 in the example I created but the “current” amount is $1,077.00. The first one does not include the $4.00 withdrawal that has to be approved but the second one does. So the child risks thinking that he has more to spend than he actually does have.
FamilyMint has a cool feature that allows you to set up automatic matching of any savings that your child puts towards a goal. For example, in the College goal/account, I set it up that we would match M dollar for dollar. You can also lock an account so that money cannot be taken out of it (which is why the current amount is so much bigger than the spendable amount in this example.)
While automatic payment of the allowance can be set up, you are limited to weekly, every two weeks and monthly options without a choice of day/date for either of them.
Automatic interest can also be set up, but they follow the standard bank rule of interest paid as APY so 5% interest on $100 in the account would receive $0.42 (which then adds up to $5.04 for the year) rather than $5 for the month. If you are fans of the First National Bank of Dad approach, then this makes things tricky and you’ll need to do some extra calculations.
Savings Goals are at the core of FamilyMint and kids can set up as many goals/accounts as they like. They can add pictures (from a selection provided or by uploading their own) to make things fun and there’s a tracker showing them how long it will take to reach their goal based on a weekly savings amount.
Here’s what the kids’ section looks like:
There is the Junior View. There is also an Advanced View for older children which is more like the parents’ version.
When you are out and about, you can access FamilyMint on any mobile phone that has an Internet browser. This is very handy for the perennial question: “Well, how much money do you have?” and allows you to instantly update your child’s account when they purchase something.
The FamilyMint website was launched in January 2010 and was founded by two Michigan Dads, Jeff Eusebio and Bob Masterson. Between the two of them, they have 14 kids! (This is something of a trend in the founders of these sites. So far, Bob Masterson is in the lead with 9 kids, but all of the founders have at least four kids.) This year, FamilyMint was awarded an Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) from the Institute for Financial Literacy. FamilyMint received the “Education Program of the Year” award in the Children, Planning & Money Management category.
Overall, FamilyMint is a great site and a strong contender for meeting our criteria of what our family is looking for in an online allowance tracking site or virtual family bank.