I come from a background of working in the credit card industry, and I’ve seen a lot of what can happen when children aren’t taught how money works – and doesn’t work – both from cardholders’ experiences and that of many of my friends. It can be scary and overwhelming, especially for kids who’ve always had their parents take care of everything and then graduate college and are suddenly on their own. There is so much that children can learn and absorb, and there are a lot of great programs out there to help them increase their financial literacy. I taught Junior Achievement in schools for many years and was always amazed by some of the things that students knew and didn’t know – and how much they picked up quickly.
There are also a lot of websites that teach financial education that are free for kids to use at home, and many of them make sure that it’s taught in a fun way and not simply something that becomes another chore or bit of homework that they resent. Doughmain is a site that combines much of the financial literacy awareness and then ties it to a family’s life at home. The site has three areas filled with games for various ages– The Fun Vault (ages 5 and up), Sand Dollar City (ages 8-12), and I Rule Money (teenagers). It also allows families to coordinate their schedules with an online color coded calendar, chore and allowance tracking, and more.
When setting up your account, you provide information for each child, and each child then also receives his own password to log into the site. This is used for the children to confirm that they have completed their daily chores that you assign as the parent, as well as for the children to request any money they might need. I like the capability for children to ask for money where it immediately prompts not just how much money the child wants but the purpose of the money, too. The idea behind so much of this is to give the children the power to control what they’re doing with their finances, which makes it that much less overwhelming when their finances are bigger and carry larger consequences.
The chore tracker is probably one of my favorite features. You can assign your child various chores to complete both from a recommended list according to the age of the child as well as from a prepopulated listing of even more chores. You also determine the frequency of the chores so that children don’t feel like they didn’t accomplish their goals if they didn’t do laundry on a given day when laundry may be a once a week chore. Each chore is assigned a certain number of Dough Points, which is the virtual currency on the website.
As the parent, you determine how much value Dough Points have. You can also determine whether you must approve the completion status of each chore (for those children who like to game the system) or whether you accept when a child has marked a chore complete. The child has to log onto the website to note what is and isn’t completed using his own password, and there is a calendar view so that the child can mark previous days’ chores complete if he had neglected to do so and also to have a good view of how well he is reaching his goals over a period of time. While I love the idea behind this, at six and eight, the wee ones don’t utilize the computer on a daily basis yet, nor do they get to log into any site on their own. However, as they get older, this would be a great way for our current sticker chart to grow up with them.
Doughmain has a good idea behind it – that of teaching children how the real world works financially. There are a lot of tools that it combines into one place that you don’t often see, particularly the family calendar with the chore trackers and other financial literacy tools. This is something that I can see us using much more as the wee ones get older and are more independent, both in their lives and online. The email reminders that are offered will be handy, too, as a reminder to ensure that I provide the wee ones with their allowances in a timely manner once they’ve completed chores or requested money. As everything in the world is moving more virtual, this is a tool that definitely helps put our financial lives online and helps teach our children how to manage their own financial lives.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was compensated to write this post. As the Doughmain site is a free website, there was no exchange of product for this review. All opinions remain my own.
Written by 5Minutes4Mom contributor Michelle who just realized that she owes her own children their allowance from the past two weeks. When she isn’t balancing her family accounts via a budget in Excel, you can find her blogging at Honest & Truly! and on Twitter @honestandtruly.