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ThreeJars Review: Family Allowance Management

By David Bakke

Limited Time Offer: Sign up for ThreeJars using coupon code MONEYCRASHERS to get $5 off the $30 annual fee!

online allowance for kidsI recently came across the website ThreeJars, where you can set up an allowance account for your children.  I found the site to be both intriguing and innovative, so I thought I would crystallize and share what I found out about it with you.

The Basic Concept

ThreeJars has some pretty neat concepts and ideas behind it. Basically, what it says is that there is a certain disconnect involved with setting up an allowance for your children and then simply forking over the money so they can go off to buy whatever. This is the exact concept discussed in our recent post about how to design an effective child allowance by using the “work-reward” concept.

ThreeJars also feels that, as a parent, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to get your kids familiar with some solid money habits by not fully taking advantage of an allowance system.

I am not definitively saying that this particular system is better than every other system, and you are well within your rights to give money to your children as you see fit.

But ThreeJars does offer some unique features and benefits that could help your child on many fronts that you should at least consider.

The Basics

I’ve already signed up for their free trial offer, so I’ve had a chance to dig around the site.

ThreeJars allows you to set up an online allowance account for your child. You can set it up where you “give” your child a certain amount of money each week. If you choose to offer your child a weekly allowance for just “being a kid,” then that’s a fine place to start. If you link allowance to chores in your household, ThreeJars will send you a weekly chore reminder. If your child has not completed their chores as assigned, you can make deductions to their allowance through email!

Projects

You can also set up the online allowance such that your child can volunteer for or sign up for additional projects to earn more money. This is the feature that I plan on using the most. Sure, I think my child deserves some money to have and to spend just as part of my responsibility of providing for him. But I also think that explaining to him that he has the opportunity to earn more money by actually performing work is a key to getting him started on the correct financial road. I plan on setting up an unlimited amount of projects that he can do, and will probably pay him quite handsomely for the completion of these projects.

No Credit Cards or Payments Are Involved in Paying Allowances

Real money is never actually accepted or given out by the site. It is all tracked by IOUs. So, if you thought you might have a credit card getting charged by the month for the money that you plan on giving to your children, don’t worry. It is more of a tracking type of thing where your children have an account there, and you can add “funds” or the kids can earn “money” which increases the amount of your IOU to them. Although your child gets practice managing their money, you always stay in control. Here’s what I mean: if your child wants real cash, they send a request through the site to your email address. If you approve the request, the site will automatically keep track of the running IOU total and you would give your child the cash out of your own pocket. Parents always stay in control and no more bookkeeping for parents!

The ThreeJars

The name of the site, ThreeJars, comes from an added benefit of the website. The site allows you to target where you, or your child, wants his or her little nest egg to go. The “three jars” are the Spending, Saving, and Sharing jars. When I was a child, the first and only thing I ever wanted to do with my allowance was to spend it. Sure, my parents instilled into me some saving habits, but it was tough to do on my own. With ThreeJars, you can visually explain to your child the trade-off between spending and saving, and you can also begin to explain to him the concept of sharing in a financial sense. Sure, you can instill in your child the habit of sharing his toys with other children on the playground, but what about the concept of sharing money with a charity? Or of sharing with people less fortunate than us? ThreeJars is a great way for your child to experience that concept first-hand.

ThreeJars even has a user-friendly section where you can make donations to a variety of different charities, so it makes it that much easier to explain to your child the expanded concept of sharing and giving. Also, donations made through ThreeJars are all tax deductible, which offers you  another way you can positively impact your 2010 income tax return.

Other Features and Costs

The site can be accessed from all of your mobile devices, making keeping up with it a snap. They also have the ThreeJars Daily Blog, which I found to have a great deal of relevant, informative articles on a variety of topics dealing with all things financial. They offer an Allowance Calculator which give you suggestions on how much money to set your kids up with.

If you’re trying to find a way to begin teaching your child the right money habits and the basics of spending and saving, ThreeJars is the place to go. The site is completely safe and secure and it never handles any of your money other than the $30 annual fee after your free trial ends. This $30 fee covers your entire family for an unlimited number of children.

Would I Actively Use ThreeJars?

I would and have already begun exploring the site. However, I will probably not begin using it intensively at the moment. Why? There is a long running debate about when you should introduce your children to the concept of money and saving. Some parents want to start explaining all of this stuff to a kid before he or shecan even talk. I’m not sure where I fall in the discussion, but I tend to think that childhood is more about having fun than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, my son has a firm understanding of what’s right and wrong, but I think that for a boy whose just reached age 3, explaining how to save his money and how to share it may be just a little too advanced for him.

I could be wrong on this and it is just my opinion. I think the concepts and the lessons that you can give to your child from ThreeJars are fantastic; you just need to choose the right time ti introduce your child to these topics. I probably will wait until sometime after the age of four before I begin really trying to teach my son about money. I can honestly say that at that point in time, I’ll definitely be using ThreeJars as part of my arsenal to explain to him the right way and wrong way to handle money. I’ve already got a working list of projects going that he’ll be able to sign up for!

Anyone out there had any experiences with kids and teaching them about money? Feel free to share with us below.

Limited Time Offer: Sign up for ThreeJars using coupon code MONEYCRASHERS to get $5 off the $30 annual fee!

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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Comments

  • Winnie

    This sounds pretty neat. Right now my husband tries to use a spreadsheet but he never stays on top of it. This sounds like it would be helpful. We will take a look for sure. Will let you know how it works out.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Winnie

      It actually is pretty neat–I already get emaiil updates every Sunday reminding me of upcoming allowance for my son.

      Hope it works out for you, and thanks for commenting

  • julie7878

    Thanks for the tip. I just signed up for a trial too. We started the kids on allowance around 5 so maybe your son will be ready in a couple of years? We use the three envelope system because my dad used it with us. I hope doing it online will keep them more interested than the envelopes. I really like that you can make a donation. My youngest is already asking to help the whales.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Julie

      Yes, I am thinking about it for age 5. I think the concept is really neat.

      I think the envelope system is good, but I think the “online” factor will hold the interest of younger kids.

      Thanks for joining in…

  • DarrickF

    Still undecided about paying for this but I’m intrigued by the site. The wife says that I drop more on a video game without giving it second thought, why not something that can help our son too? . She always know just what to say but she has a point. Thanks for the discount at least.

    • David Bakke

      I guess its all about choices, isn’t it?

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Aminat

    This site is reaaly cool. The kids are excited to use it. Thanks.

    • David Bakke

      Glad you like it and thanks for joining the conversation

  • Mindy W:)

    We started teaching our kids about money when they reached the age of 3. We use white boards that they mark off as they do their work – picking up toys, making bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth & feeding dogs. The only thing I would encourage is to not make “allowances” but rather “commissions,” meaning they earn it through the work they do. After all, my boss doesn’t just give me a paycheck because I’m a woman! I actually have to earn it! Our kids are now 3 and 5 and they LOVE to give their money each week, save and spend their money after earning it!:)

    • David Bakke

      Mindy

      Since you mentioned it, I tried my first money lesson with my three year old this morning. I basically told him if he would help me clean up the house, he’d get a new toy.

      Man, that boy was runnin’ all over the place to help me clean.

      I guess maybe its not too early after all.

      Thanks for commenting

  • http://www.savings.com/blog/post/Teaching-Kids-About-Saving-Money-with-SmartyPig.html Stella

    One of my bloggers recently posted about teaching her three year-old about money. She uses SmartyPig, but ThreeJars sounds like a great option as well. I wish it’d been around when I was growing up–I was always having to keep track of how much allowance I was owed ‘cuz my Mom never had cash on hand to pay up.

    • David Bakke

      Stella

      I wish it was around when I was a child as well.

      It would have held my attention much better than just getting a weekly allowance!

      Thanks for commenting!

  • LeoD

    Why do you think this subject not out there more? I commend you for your post but where is everyone else on this? The bad financial decisions of others are affecting all of us. Most of the “experts” focus on repairing the debt of adullts. Ok, that’s important but why are more sites not following your lead and writing about teaching KIDS about money instead of adults? Seems to me that finacial literacy should be part of the school curriculum. I don’t know much about threejars but they seem to be focusing on the right thing. They say prevention is better than cure.

    • David Bakke

      leo

      I am a firm believer of personal financial management being taught in schools.

      Take out one of those “blow off” classes we all took in high school and replace it with one with some relevancy!

      Thnaks for chiming in!

  • http://www.threejars.com Thomas

    I just signed up for the http://www.threejars.com allowance service. Saw the guy who started it on the news. My kids are actually behaving!

    • David/moneycrashers

      Thomas

      If it gets your kids to behave, then I would give it an A+!

      Thanks for commenting

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