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ActiveAllowance introduces kids to joys, sorrows of budgeting

Make your kids into wage slaves with a new tool for managing chores and allowance budgets.

ActiveAllowance is a complex site that helps families with children manage the kids' allowances and chores. After experimenting with it for a few minutes, it made me hope that my 8-month-old son never, ever grows up. Am I really going to have to manage a list of chores, pay for them piecemeal, and then teach my kid to motivate himself, budget his income, and learn about saving, investing, and so on?

I suppose that's part of being a dad. And a site like this could help me and my wife keep our messages consistent. ActiveAllowance tracks lists of chores and goals, and helps a child budget his efforts to finish the tasks that earn him money. It also helps kids allocate their income based on family guidelines (so much for savings, for charity, and so on). Parents can set it up so allowance money is awarded when certain chores are done, or you can decouple allowance from chores if that's the way you parent.

ActiveAllowance lets you create detailed chore lists, with different points awarded for getting each chore done. CNET Networks

Kids get their own simplified interface when they log in. From there, they can check how they are doing against their goals, and print "checks" to draw from their allowance funds, which they present to the Bank of Their Parents, presumably in exchange for cash or goods.

The site allows for very detailed management of chore lists, payments for them, and budgeting, and I found it frighteningly complex. User feedback on the site's forums tells the story: it takes time for users to get past the learning curve. There are many who seem to be stuck in the support forums. But once the program is grasped, the transparency and communication fostered--and the degree of consideration required before you can fill out the details--helps families communicate more effectively about money, and ActiveAllowance can motivate and teach children in all the right ways.

My take, though, is this: if your sons or daughters can follow all the ins and outs of their detailed chore list and exactly what income they're going to earn from each task--and if they begin to effectively organize their lives around getting what they want--then you might do well to give them your Quicken password and let them run all the household's finances. And maybe if you get to work each day on time, they'll grant you your own allowance.

Vaguely related: Wired's new Geek Dad blog.

Two more pictures after the jump.

You can specify which budget categories are funded first. CNET Networks