I have often mentioned how important I think life skills are and how many kids grow up unprepared for life outside of their parent's home. But one of the most overlooked life skill is money management. Parents forget to teach their children smart money skills like how to budget or balance a checkbook. And I will admit, here at our house we haven't really done a lot of talking yet about managing money. We don't give allowance here, but the kids get money as gifts, earned from extra jobs and their fair prizes. They have savings accounts. We encourage them to really think about their purchases when they want something. But that is about all we've done so far. Until now.
I was asked to use and review the FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program and when the workbook arrived I was pretty pleased with the first impression. It's a simple workbook- designed for kids ages 10 and up, though I used it with all 4 of my boys (ages 5-11)- and is meant to help teach kids key money management skills that they can carry with them the rest of their lives. But the workbook is only part of the program. They also include an online application that looks and feels just like the online banking systems we adults use all the time.
They cover topics like keeping track of your money- in which the kids learn how to fill out checks, deposit slips and keep a register. My kids loved this- there is something about writing a check for millions of dollars that is exciting!
And they cover making SMART goals. It was at this chapter that I really could see the wheels turning for my oldest son. He's mentioned a few goals over the past few months and by using the online application he could really start to see that they were actually attainable if he used his money wisely. He spent a lot of time breaking down his goals into smaller pieces and seeing how much money he would need to save per week to get what he wanted. I also appreciated the 2 versions- junior and advanced- where he could work in more detail that his younger brothers.
When we got to the budgeting chapter, I began to see some of the weaknesses of my younger kids. Even though some of it has to do with maturity, they tend to be more careless with their money. My oldest again took a long time creating his envelopes- putting in his goals and even a gift fund to make sure he would have enough to buy birthday and holiday gifts for his friends and family.
The bottom line? I would definitely recommend this program. It's a simple but effective way to teach the essential money skills we need as adults. Some of the best things about this program are:
- The workbook can be used by itself or with the online application. When we went over the chapters we used the book exclusively. But once we were done the kids logged on to their accounts to put what they learned into action. You don't have to use the computer at all to use this program.
- It's versatile. You can use this program in many ways as a tool to learn budgeting. You can use real money, and you can use it as a way to keep track of reward points for school work, good grades, chores, etc. The more the kids see and practice using these skills the better.
- It's personal. The kids are tracking their money and making their goals. That alone makes it much more effective than a hypothetical situation from math or accounting class.