Is there an iPhone app that manages kids allowance and can be shared across multiple phones?
December 15, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Is there an iPhone app that can be shared across multiple users/phones to manage kids' allowances?

I give my five year old an allowance. Mr. Cocoa and I have two problems: knowing if one or the other of us has paid him already, and keeping track of what he's spent. So sometimes both my husband and I accidentally pay him, sometimes neither of us does. Sometimes I'm out with him and he buys something, and later in the day he's with his dad and wants something else, but Dad doesn't know how much money Young Cocoa really has available.

Is there an app or other solution that would let both of us see that he's credited on a weekly basis and see, from each of our phones, purchases made real-time? Most of the apps I've seen (and two that I'm am playing with: Bank of Mom and KiddyBank) do everything I'd like except this aspect of supporting multiple actors on the same account. (FamilyMint seems to do it, but only the paid version which, at $5.00/month is a serious percentage of what we're paying in allowance. Once we bump him up to managing millions, I'd be happy to shell out for it.)
posted by cocoagirl to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The first thing that comes to mind is a Google Docs file or spreadsheet which you can both access and update from your phones.

You might be able to sync Notes (from the built-in note app) if you tie them to the same email account, but I'm not sure about that.
posted by DMan at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2010

Possible suggestion you may have already tried or considered: Have him keep track and inform ya'll what's what?
posted by nomadicink at 12:08 PM on December 15, 2010

You could use SimpleNote, both synced with the same account? Bonus - you could use it to manage other joint lists like shopping lists, holiday present lists, todos etc.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could use pretty much any program that syncs to a Dropbox folder that you both have access to. Here's a list.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2010

Mint can certainly do this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:08 PM on December 15, 2010

Response by poster: DMan, Happy Dave, Thoughtcrime and Ambrosia: I was hoping to avoid Google Docs or Dropbox since they just seem like middlemen (and a lot of extra steps in terms of entering data). I'll take a look at SimpleNote. This thread from the Mint community suggests that Mint does not do this. Am I missing something? Their site is surprisingly uninformative.

nomadicink: That's definitely the goal of the not-too-distant future, but since Young Cocoa is just mastering writing his name and remembering which day of the week it is, self-reportage would be a little suspect at this point.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:28 PM on December 15, 2010

Um, does it have to be a shared 3rd party app? Why not just use your bank's iphone app? (assuming it has one?) If they don't have an app, maybe they have a texting feature to check balances?

Set up an auto-transfer from one of your accounts to little cocoa's account for his allowance amount/frequency. A quick app check (like for USAA or BofA) or a text to check balance will be all you need to see what he has available and then you can handle the actual purchase with cash/debit/credit however you want and charge it back to him later.

Benefits to consistent allowance payouts and also to learning money management.

You could even get debit cards for your husband and yourself on little cocoa's account and start to teach him about (not just) cash and money but also debit, credit, debt, etc.
posted by emjay at 7:31 PM on December 15, 2010

FamilyMint Premium is also available at $25/yr (which is equivalent to only about $2/month). We're getting feedback on the mobile app that it's so easy to use that people are accessing FamilyMint three times more often than they did previously. There is a no risk 14 day trial. give it a try and see if the application, custom built specifically for the purpose you have in mind, is not worth $2/month?
posted by at 6:27 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: emjay: That makes sense and I guess I hadn't considered it because setting up a new account to manage just $5/week seemed like overkill. However, Young Cocoa's a saver and he will routinely save $50+, which becomes a reasonable threshold. The other hiccup is that only debit card use will affect the balance we can see. I'd prefer him not to use a debit card at this point because the physical reality of money (receiving it, counting it, paying it out, recounting it) has been very useful for both basic math skills and for "seeing" how much things cost. The tangible aspect really helps him make choices about whether something is worth spending money on. I already do use the bank's tools to create pie charts and graphs of our spending categories will probably begin sharing that stuff with him soon. Certainly within 2 or 3 years a debit card will be the way to go with him, and you're right, the bank app (which I use a lot) makes sense. Thanks for weighing in! I admit that the software looks great, and like it will do want I want, however $25/year is slightly over 10% of my son's income. Yes, it's small beans of my assets to pay for a productivity tool, but since my goal is to help Young Cocoa understand money, I'm inclined to view that as a 10% management fee on his account and that's not a percentage I'd advise him to accept. I will keep an eye on the program, though. I have two kids and once their "incomes" cross a threshold where that makes sense, I'll be happy to revisit its value. Thanks!
posted by cocoagirl at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2010

Well, the debit card can be for you and your SO to use. You can still show him the cash, and you can have a "virtual" piggy bank for saving/spending/giving. Let him decide where the money goes (with your guidance) and let him count the coins and the cash. You're just handling it on the back-end with the debit card (and handling the actual deposits through your bank anyway)

More and more of life's transactions are going electronic...

Even if you wait a little while on the bank and debit card concepts so he has a feel for "real money" I hope it still works out to use your bank instead of any other paid application or website.
posted by emjay at 8:31 AM on December 18, 2010

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