Teaching your kids about effective money management is easily one of the most important things you can do as a parent. This is why, as you’ll see from our FamZoo review, this product may be just what you need to set a great financial foundation for your children.
You may have heard about different ways to teach kids about money by putting cash in “buckets” and so on. However, FamZoo gets your kids ready for the digital, cashless age by doing the same thing – and a lot more.
It also does it all in one place, removing a lot of the complication that can come with trying to educate kids about good financial habits.
Whether you want to teach your kids about saving, spending, charitable giving, compound interest, loans and more, we think it’s a great product for anyone interested in making sure their kids are able to grow up with a good understanding of some key financial concepts – that even many adults haven’t quite grasped yet!
Why do I recommend FamZoo?
• Teaches your kids great financial habits, including how to responsibly use debit cards
• Parents can choose to add features like automatic recurring deposits (for allowances), payments for chores, compound interest, loans, charitable giving and more
• One monthly fee for the whole family (and up to a 60-day free trial when you start)
What is FamZoo?
FamZoo is a virtual bank run by parents to help their children understand key financial principles. By allowing kids to manage their own money, with full parental oversight, they’re able to see the actual impact of their financial decisions, helping to provide them a solid foundation in money management concepts.
How it works is that parents essentially act as the banker with your kids being the customers. Kids will then have either an IOU or prepaid card account, which you can then monitor to keep an eye on spending.
For example, you can automatically transfer your kids’ allowance, pay them for doing chores (or deduct money when chores aren’t done), help them set up their own budget, have them establish saving goals, and offer interest on these savings…just to name a few features this app offers.
You can even let your kids have a prepaid card to help them learn about spending.
And don’t worry: you control all the money they have access to.
Who is FamZoo for?
FamZoo is for any parent that wants to teach their child about money management through actual, hands-on experience. It allows them to see the direct impact of decisions they make in terms of earning, saving, spending and giving money, meaning it’s great for parents that want to teach these kinds of lessons early in their children’s lives.
While other strategies like the “jar method” can work in a similar way, these are usually done with cash. However, with more and more financial transactions moving to digital-only, it’s more important than ever that kids understand that swiping a card still has financial consequences – even if you can’t physically see the money you’re spending.
FamZoo also works no matter how old your children are or how complicated or simple you wish to make the system.
As mentioned, you can set it up so that FamZoo simply tracks the money that’s coming into and going out of their account.
But you can also add things like payments being deducted if they don’t do certain chores, automatic charitable donations, loans, compound interest and more.
The sheer number of these customizable options can become a bit overwhelming at times, although FamZoo’s website provides good guidance on this.
Once you have set things up how you want them – and with what your kids are comfortable with – this all adds up to mean that your kids can learn some really solid lessons here in managing their finances.
How does FamZoo work?
FamZoo works as a virtual family bank through two different options: the IOU account and the prepaid card account. The IOU account allows the application to keep track of money that parents manage on behalf of their kids while the prepaid card account provides kids with access to a card with a set amount on it.
We’ll go through each of these below
There’s no money exchanged in the IOU account. Instead, it’s essentially a digital version of recording the money that’s coming into and going out of your child’s piggy bank.
(This means that when we talk about “deposits” below, these are actually records of money the child has accrued, not actual cash transfers – hence the name of the account.)
As mentioned above, FamZoo basically works by having a “family bank” with a virtual account for each family member and mom or dad as the banker. This means you’re managing the IOU account while your kids use what’s available in it.
You can record money as being added to the account through one-off deposits or you can choose to make automatic recurring deposits, like for an allowance. Account holders (i.e. your kids) can also earn money for things like doing chores.
There are also a bunch of other great features on the IOU account you can add if you like, such as:
- “Penalizing” account holders for not doing their assigned chores
- Creating savings goals
- Automatically withholding parts of deposits for saving or charitable giving
- Matching savings deposits
- Offering interest on your kids’ savings (great for teaching them early about how compound interest works!)
- Dividing up expenses, like if your kids want to share the cost of their Spotify subscription
- Providing loans
You’d probably want to keep this quite simple if your kids are younger. However, as they get older, teaching concepts like earning interest and how loans work is easily one of the most useful features of FamZoo.
Prepaid card account
The prepaid account works in a similar way to the IOU account, in that money can come in and out in the same ways, including all the extra features you can add. As the parent, you’ll have full oversight of these comings and goings, not to mention sole authority to deposit money.
The difference here is that kids will have a prepaid Mastercard for making their own purchases with the money that’s in the account rather than you doing it for them.
This means that this option will probably be better if your kids are a bit older, especially as they may be buying things when you’re not around.
How it works is that you’ll receive a pack of cards, with parents carrying the funding card and kids carrying the dependent cards. Parents will then be able to load their funding card with money and then transfer amounts to their kids’ cards.
These transfers have all the same features available as in the IOU account, including automatic recurring deposits, interest, chore payments (and penalties) and more.
The reason it’s done like this is:
- You’ll fully control how much money is on your kids’ cards. Once they’ve spent up to the limit, they can’t spend any more, so there are no overdraft fees.
- Your kids won’t be able to access any money besides what you decide to add from your funding card. This means, for example, they can’t choose to withdraw more money from the funding card as that’s your sole decision. This includes the fact that they won’t have access to money in any accounts used to top up the funding card. This prevents anyone, whether it’s your kids or someone else who gets their hands on that card, from pulling funds from your account.
Which is the best FamZoo account option for me?
When trying to decide which account is best for you in FamZoo, review how you’ll be using the app as a first step.
That is, if your child will need a bank card, then the prepaid card account is better. Otherwise, the IOU account should be fine.
(You can always switch later, if needed, and the cost is the same no matter which account you choose.)
From there, you can pick and choose from the full range of customizations, with FamZoo providing a lot of guidance on their website for this.
This automatically assigns a certain percentage of each deposit into three “buckets” for saving, spending and giving. FamZoo’s default settings provide that 80% of each deposit goes towards spending, 10% towards saving and 10% towards giving (although you can always adjust these percentages or change the buckets!)
It’s great for teaching your kids the value of their money beyond simply spending it on themselves.
Before deciding how to set these up, FamZoo actually recommends chatting about this with your child. That way, they’ll have a say in how their money is managed, as well as being able to see the real life implications of changing these percentages, like having less savings.
What are the advantages of FamZoo?
The advantages of FamZoo are:
- Great for teaching kids of all ages about money management – With so many features able to be added to each account, your kids will quickly learn about financial concepts – including ones that many adults haven’t grasped yet.
- Generous free trial – The fact that you get a free two-month trial with the IOU account and a free one-month trial with the prepaid card account are great perks.
- One fee covers the entire family – Not having to pay per child (up to a four person family) is much more cost-effective than imposing fees for each user.
- Very secure, including no need to link accounts to the cards
- Kids can’t spend more than you’ve given them – This means no huge surprise bills.
- Easy for parents to monitor how kids are using their money – As you’ll always have access to this information, you’ll be able to see where their money is going in just a few taps.
What are the disadvantages of FamZoo?
The disadvantages of this based on our FamZoo review include:
- FamZoo’s app and website could be better – They’re not the slickest platforms around and it can sometimes be hard to figure out where to go next. The FAQs and tutorials are helpful at overcoming this though.
- The amount of features can be overwhelming at first – FamZoo does so much that, occasionally, it can actually be a bit of a struggle to figure out what you should be doing with each account. Fortunately, FamZoo has pretty good guidance for this on its site, but it can take some to get your head around everything.
- A standard bank account would be cheaper (although with less features) – If you just want to deposit money in an account that your kids can use, it may be better to simply give them access to a standard checking account with no monthly fee. That said, you’d lose the additional features which may be why you’re considering signing up for FamZoo in the first place.
- Can’t prevent certain types of debit card purchases – The debit card works exactly like a “real” one in that it can be used anywhere by your children, although kids under 13 will still need you to sign for their purchases.
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How do you sign up for FamZoo?
You can sign up for FamZoo through their website by selecting which type of account you would like to try. With the prepaid card account, you’ll get a one-month free trial and, with the IOU account, you’ll receive a two-month free trial.
Like all debit cards, there’s no credit check involved in signing up for FamZoo and there’s no reporting to the credit bureaus involved, so using FamZoo won’t affect your credit score.
How much does FamZoo cost?
Once the free trial period is finished, FamZoo is $5.99 per month when paid on a monthly basis. This is reduced if you prepay for certain set periods, with the lowest price being $2.50 per month if you pay in advance for 24 months.
Specifically, the FamZoo fees are as follows:
- FamZoo is free for the first two months with an IOU account and for the first month with a prepaid card account
- After the trial, the fees are:
- $5.99 if you pay month-to-month, allowing you to cancel at any time
- $25.99 for six months, equal to $4.33 per month (a saving of 27%)
- $39.99 for 12 months, equal to $3.33 per month (a saving of 44%)
- $59.99 for 24 months, equal to $2.50 per month (a saving of 58%)
FamZoo’s fees cover a family of four (meaning you don’t pay per child) and the cost is the same no matter if you choose to use IOU accounts, prepaid card accounts or a mixture of the two.
For additional cards (after the first four free cards), you’ll pay $3 per card as a one-off, not an additional monthly fee. You’ll also pay $3 as a card replacement fee, although you get two free card replacements.
FamZoo ATM withdrawals are free, subject to any ATM operator fees, there’s no fee for using the card to make purchases and electronic reloads are also free. That said, even if FamZoo doesn’t charge for this, some banks do up to around $3, although most banks have dropped this fee by now.
You can also find the occasional FamZoo coupon code to secure an extra discount.
How do you set up your FamZoo account?
The FamZoo setup process is very straightforward. All you have to do is:
- Select the option to sign up for your initial free FamZoo trial on this page. (And don’t worry, you won’t have to pay anything or even hand over your credit card details to take advantage of the free trial.)
- Pick which account type you want to sign up for and then fill in the form that appears.
- You’ll be taken straight to your account dashboard without having to visit the FamZoo login page. There, you’ll be prompted to add a child to your family’s account.
- Once done, you’ll then receive a prompt to set up a “financial plan” for your child. This refers to the different ways that money which is automatically deposited into the account is dealt with, such as if a certain percentage is assigned to savings. You’re free to play around with this.
Check out this video for a walkthrough on how to sign up for FamZoo and activate the account settings:
How do I put money on my FamZoo card?
You’ve got a few options for putting money on your FamZoo card, namely:
- Electronic transfer from your bank account: Funds will take one to three business days to arrive in your FamZoo account and this is usually fee-free.
- Direct deposit from an employer or government agency: You’ll see funds appearing in your account within one to five business days from the date of deposit, with no fees being incurred for this.
- Load cash onto your card at participating retailers: The money will appear essentially instantaneously on your FamZoo card, although be aware of the fees involved in doing this, which can be anywhere between $4 and $6.
- Transfer from an online digital wallet, like Apple Pay: This will take up to three business days for funds to arrive in your account but will be completely fee-free, unless done with Venmo which will charge you for this.
Detailed instructions on how to do each of these are available on FamZoo’s website.
Is FamZoo safe?
FamZoo is safe as the website doesn’t store your passwords or any other personal details. For the IOU account, it doesn’t actually involve any money being exchanged, so it’s entirely secure. With respect to the prepaid card accounts, there are a number of steps involved when it comes to transferring money, ensuring full security over these funds.
Other FamZoo security measures include:
- If a FamZoo card is lost, it can be locked immediately
- In the case of the prepaid card account, money can only be transferred from the parents’ cards to the children’s cards, not vice-versa
- There’s no need to link a bank account to the prepaid cards for them to work
- When the kids’ cards have run out of money, they can’t continue spending.
- Parents can track all family spending, allowing them to keep an eye on how their children are using the money
Is FamZoo legit?
FamZoo is definitely legit. Having been launched in 2006, it has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.6 out of 5 in the Apple Store with thousands of users and no significant complaints since then.
In fact, when looking for FamZoo reviews on Reddit, I literally couldn’t find a negative one. Besides some people commenting that it would be cheaper to use a standard bank account, comments seemed to be universally positive – which, honestly, isn’t something you see frequently on Reddit.
What are the FamZoo reviews on BBB?
There are no FamZoo reviews on BBB (Better Business Bureau). This suggests that there have not been any significant enough complaints to justify someone contacting the BBB, allowing for a profile to be established on there.
While FamZoo isn’t the biggest money-teaching product around, which potentially means there’s less chance of there being complaints, it does still have several thousand users who, apparently, seem to think it’s a good product.
How does this compare to any FamZoo alternatives?
There are several companies offering products aimed at helping parents teach their children about money management. This includes some others that also offer “kid cards” to allow children to spend money exactly like a standard debit card (like FamZoo’s prepaid card account).
Our summary of each of these companies, including when compared to our findings in this FamZoo review, are coming soon:
- FamZoo vs Greenlight
- FamZoo vs BusyKid (including a BusyKid review)
- FamZoo vs GoHenry
Final thoughts based on our FamZoo review
FamZoo is a seriously great way to teach kids about money that moves away from the more traditional cash-based methods. Instead, they’ll be able to gain an understanding of how to manage their finances even when they can’t directly see what they’re spending – a much better reflection of most people’s spending reality these days.
In particular, the range of features offered by FamZoo is truly impressive, even if you may not quite know where to start at first. The fact you scale your FamZoo account up to include things like compound interest, loans, saving goals and more means you can easily adapt your account to your kids’ learning needs and level of understanding.
Sure, it’s not free. But given the significant financial benefit for kids in understanding what these concepts are early on in their lives, there’s a good argument to be made that the fees are more than worth it.
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About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been featured on Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio. Find out more.