"Do as I say, not as I do," probably summarizes the financial advice of many parents. Intuit, by contrast, aims for its new, Web-based Quicken Kids & Money to teach young children fiscal discipline while demanding
attention from parents in the process. This $99 yearly subscription
includes browser-based interfaces for parents and their 5- to 8-year-olds. The time seems ripe for an interactive service like this, given
advertisers' colossal efforts to capture the hearts and minds of
children along with the wallets of their parents.
Designed for integration into household habits rather than as a
babysitting tool, Quicken Kids & Money is supposed to require 20
minutes of weekly care after the initial setup. Intuit suggests that
parents dole out $20 to $32 monthly to each child. Online calendars
help regulate chores and payments, and a social networking area allows
parents to get in touch with each other.
Accompanying the service are transparent envelopes to hold money for
quick cash, sharing, long-term savings, and medium-term savings. The Quick
Cash envelope is supposed to keep 10 percent of income, while each of the other
three envelopes contain 30 percent.
Why no piggy bank? Like the infamous ATM for kids, it leaves money unseen and mysterious, said author
Neale Godfrey, an expert in family finances who helped Intuit build
Kids & Money. Plus, she said, smashing the piglet could be traumatic. (However, I remain attached to mine, which safely
kept the pennies charged by Aunt Gertrude for sewing lessons.)
The engaging KidsZone portion of the Kids &l Money Web site features
big, colorful buttons that match the cash envelopes and track what's
earned, saved, or spent. It's cool that the division of savings
discourages instant gratification, while My Sharing encourages
charitable contributions. Built-in e-mail and My Wants wish lists are
likely to please kids. There are games featuring Reggie the Register
too, but younger children will need some guidance.
Quicken Kids & Money can't inoculate kids against TV commercials.
Nor will it guarantee that its pricey $99 charge will wean junior Suze Ormans or Warren Buffetts over time. Yet this seems like a solid service for families willing to commit to it. Now what's needed are money-management tools for
adolescents and college-age adults, who are prone to shopping sprees
and credit card pitches. Intuit has no immediate plans to build similar
services for older children and teens, although that could happen in