Which Is The Best Kids Allowance Online Tracking System?

Photo by @whiteafrican on Flickr

One of the biggest surprises for me when we first started giving our kids allowances was the number of times we would forget to give them their money.

A few weeks would skip by and then suddenly we’d remember that it was Allowance Day. Often, a painful retracing of weeks followed as we tried to figure out just how much “back-allowance” we owed them.

Of course, we’re not the only parents who’ve faced this annoying dilemma. Luckily, there are some enterprising moms and dads out there who have cried out “There has got to be a better way!” and they’ve created online allowance tracking sites.

I love this idea.  It’s like a virtual bank for kids and, done the right way, kids get experience in managing their own money in just the way they’ll be managing their money as adults – checking balances, moving money between accounts, budgeting, calculating how much they need to save, playing with different scenarios based on spending & saving, etc.

The one thing to watch out for is that no real money is deposited with these sites. So, as a parent, you have to be prepared for when the kids suddenly request the amount in their accounts.  You’re the banker so you’d better be prepared for a run on the bank!

I spent an afternoon recently signing up for FamZoo, Moneytrail, Zefty, ThreeJars and FamilyMint to compare products.  Over the next few posts, I’ll share with you what I like about each one and what was missing for our family.  [Update:  the winner for us was FamZoo. You can read the review here.]

To evaluate them, I came up with my own criteria for what is important to our family. Depending on your allowance system, you may value different options. If you figure these out in advance, you’ll be able to see which one works best for you and your family.

What We Wanted

Make life easier for parents:

  • Automatic allocation of the allowance to each child on a weekly basis
  • Automatic allocation of interest to each child on the last day of each month
  • Mobile access so we can check account balances when out with the kids

Give the kids control of their money:

  • Ability for each child to sign in and check on their money without the help of a parent

Help the children learn about the consequences of their spending decisions:

  • Ability for each child to see where their money has gone and realize the consequences of their spending decisions
  • Ability for each child to set a savings goal and track their progress towards it

And just because I like to be demanding:

  • Not locked into Spending-Savings-Charity approach
  • Free

It turns out that all the sites I reviewed do the following  three core benefits(call it the price of entry for offering an allowance tracking system):

  • Automatic allocation of the allowance to each child
  • Ability for each child to sign up and check on their money
  • Ability to set a savings goal and track progress towards it

What else can they do?  Lots of interesting and useful things which I’ll share over the next few posts.

In the meantime, which kids allowance online tracking or management system do you use?  What do you like best about it?  Am I missing any from my research?

11 Responses to Which Is The Best Kids Allowance Online Tracking System?

  1. paul nakada says:

    we’ve been using famzoo for over a year now. it is fantastic. ever since the transaction of “getting my allowance” became automatic, the word “allowance” has become a thing of the past. the kids know how to check on their balance, they ask for money, and i give it to them, asking them to deduct it from famzoo. when they get money from someone, they just give it to me, and i ask them to credit famzoo.

    in short, money has ceased to be a source of drama, and is now a means to educate about saving, responsibility, and long term decision making.

    i wholeheartedly recomment famzoo to any family who is even thinking about educating their kids about financial responsibility. the funny thing is that i am learning by being involved in the process as well.

    -paul

  2. Skip W. says:

    We have 5 kids ages 5 to 16 and heard about FamilyMint through a home school blog in early 2010. Our kids love the tool and I am amazed at the changes I’ve seen in my children’s behavior towards money. My oldest would spend money like there was no tomorrow. Now that she see’s how and where she’s spending her money she has become much more thoughtful about spending and has even become somewhat of a saver. Our favorite part of the tool are the goals and how even the five year old can set up goals for what he wants and see the progress he’s making towards those goals. How triumphant they feel when they reach their savings goals and can make their purchase. FamilyMint is a wonderful educational and practical tool that sure beats out the old piggy bank or envelopes!

  3. Donna says:

    I am on the search for a good chore/allowance tracker. While the allowance tracker (we always forget to give them their allowance on the appropriate day) and goal setting is great….our big dillema has been chore tracking. Our philosophy on allowance is that it needs to be earned as the boys make our lives easier by participatiing in household chores. If mom/dad are having to remind (again and again) amd there is complaining by the boys, they haven’t earned their allowance because it has actally been more work for mom and dad to remind and track the chores than if we did them ourselves. Im looking for an app that we set up basic minimum chores, allows the kids to sign in and indicate what they have done (accountability by the kids is a sticking point for us) prompts us to “approve” the chores as done and then will track the allowance that they have earned. In my search, I have just read about iallowance that allows the kids to earn both dollars (for chores), earn interest on unspent funds to promote saving and earn stars that can be traded for tv/game time.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Donna,

      One thing to consider with an app is whether all your information will be saved and available if the app crashes or if you lose your phone. So, double check if there is some kind of back up of your data. iAllowance looks like a good option and I know Jim Spencer and his team on this are committed to keep upgrading and improving the product. The chores management tool is something they were working on earlier this year and I’m glad to see it’s now available. Other alternatives to consider would be ThreeJars (although the kids would need to sign in on a computer to confirm which chores they have done) and FamZoo which is accessible both via computer and via an iPhone app. Our family uses FamZoo and we’re very happy with it. You can read more about it on the Famzoo review I wrote http://www.growingrichkids.com/review-famzoo-flexible-enough-for-every-family

      Suzanne

  4. Stepan says:

    Some time after reading The First National Bank of Dad I discovered FirstKidBank.com which perfectly matches the book’s philosophy. It’s a virtual online allowance bank where you can set up automatic “deposits” and interest rate (may daughter gets 1%/week). You can have multiple accounts per child if you follow the spend/save/share model (each with their own interest rates).

    And it’s easily accessible from a mart phone, so when my daughter wants to buy something at a store, I pay for it and login to the site on my iPhone and deduct the money from her account.

    http://firstkidbank.com/

    P.S. It would be great if your blog posts included the date the article was written. The same goes for people’s comments. Right now, readers have no idea how old an article is.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks for the comment. Looks like this is another site for me to test and review. Do you know the people behind First Kid Bank? I always like to know the team running a business. I hear you on including the date. Will think about reintroducing that again. Suzanne

    • John Drigot says:

      First Kid Bank is just what I was looking for. And, it works on an Android phone. Thanks so much for sharing. 11/15/12

  5. This is a tricky subject and all the websites that are posted in the article are great. Suzzane i think you should check out AllowanceTree.com and maybe add it to the list up here. It is a great website and I have found it easier and more interactive than the others.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Rohan,

      Looking forward to checking out your site. Always good to have different options for people to consider.

      Suzanne

  6. Etay says:

    bankaroo is the only service that has multi currencies as well as multi language support.

    bankaroo is available for web and all mobile phones, including; iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and more.

  7. Sarah says:

    My family has used DoughMain.com for two years now. It has a fabulous chore tracker, a family calendar, which syncs with my personal calendar, and it can be used with a virtual or real bank account. There are age-appropriate financial games too.
    To remind my kids to check their chores, I use a text notification. The kids really like marking chores as “complete” and they send me money requests or allocate points for their favorite activity. My older son just turned 14, so I decided to get him a prepaid card for his allowance & chore money – and we both can track his spending on the site. This site has a lot of depth and breadth.

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