Thursday, February 28, 2013

Treasure Trove Thursday - Part 1- The Money Mammals review and giveaway

This week is America Saves Week and I am featuring ‘TheMoney Mammal Kit’ created by parent and chief money mammal,  John Lanza from

My(our) thoughts: 
My kids read the book as soon as we opened the package and loved it. Both the ten-year-old and the seven-year-old read it together and then again by themselves. My little girl, the seven-year-old, discussed the book with me – what Joe wanted, why he did what he did, and more. In her own words, “Joe the monkey got tempted to buy candy instead of saving up for something else he really wanted. His friend ‘teached’ him at the right moment to save instead and he learned how to take care of his money better. The book taught me how to use money well and how to take care of it.” My ten-year-old is now charting out a plan for allowances and setting goals.

The jars in the kit are being used too – right now, the save  jar is getting filled up faster and they have specific goals for Share – their after-school donates every December to a couple of charities locally and in India and they love donating and with these jars, they plan to donate the money themselves this year using the money in their Share jar at that time.

The DVD has helpful tips and is a fun as well as educational watch.  Each section entertains and teaches.

As a parent, I love that the kit is letting them learn and enjoy learning the value of money and ‘how to use as well as take care of’ money.  It is also helping me teach how to have the right money conversation with my kids that is age appropriate and right for each kid. The Allowance Magic workbook is teaching me a lot and though I have not yet actively used the workbook itself, I am using the tips from the book to help the kids plan how they can work towards their money goals. Allowances for them have been non-existent or random so far but between me reading Allowance Magic and the kids reading about Joe the monkey, we are right now figuring out a plan together that will work for all of us!

Learning about goal setting and how to decide which jar money goes into or comes out of will not only help them wise up about money but I am pretty sure, about general goal-setting and decision-making as well.
Rating: The kit – everything in it – gets an A from us. 
Giveaway: The giveaway is at the end of this post. 

Here is a guest post from John Lanza that will definitely be useful reading for you. 

Making Smart Money Choices Using a Three Jar System
by John Lanza
“I don’t know how to say no to him,” a good friend of mine confided in me at a party.  This friend was of particularly good means and though it was true that he could afford to get virtually anything his son might request, I suggested that he ought to make a change.  Financial literacy is about making choices, and he was faced with an important choice for his son.  He needed to consider a different approach.  Rather than saying they couldn’t afford something, I suggested that he say the family hadn’t budgeted for the item.  He could then use this as a teaching moment and begin an allowance system for his son to teach him about smart money choices.  Without setting up this framework, the son’s perceived world could become one of limitless stuff.  Very problematic.

A three jar system, in which your child sets aside money for sharing, saving and spending smart, creates a terrific framework for you to teach your child to make choices with her money.  Important choices.  The traditional piggy bank was okay, but the three jar system is much better.  Rather than taking money and plopping it into an opaque bank that is difficult to access, your child is compelled to examine and touch money each week (or whenever they receive it) and to choose into which jars, or “buckets,” they need to place the money. The piggy bank paradigm worked in a world in which money remained a taboo subject. The new paradigm is one in which we want to raise kids to be “money-comfortable.” We want kids to be able to easily access their money and feel confident making money decisions so that when the time comes for them to make more consequential ones, they’ll be prepared.

Choice makes our lives rich and enhances our ability to learn.  Imagine a college with only one set of courses available.  Imagine not being able to choose your friends, choose your get the point.  Receiving an allowance is really only part of the process.  Choosing to allocate that allowance and setting up the terms of how the allowance is distributed is extremely important.  For example, will you mandate that your child save 10% of his/her allowance each week in the “Share” jar?  25%? 50%?  How about the “Save” jar.  Will you “match” the money they put in their “Save” jar?  In case you’re wondering, we do a quarter for every dollar with our own kids.

You, too, have choices in setting up your system, but remember that exaggerating those options when they are young is something to strongly consider.  We are told that saving 10% of our income is a noble goal, and it is. But in order to achieve that goal, it’s not a bad idea to have your kids place 25% of the money they receive into the “Save” jar and 25% into the “Share” jar.  This exaggeration can help solidify positive habits.  That’s along the lines of what we do.  Our seven-year-old receives seven dollars every week. We require that two dollars go into the Save jar and one into the Share jar. She has discretion to put each of the four dollars left into her “Spend Smart,” “Share” or “Save” jars. Incidentally, giving one dollar per week per age of the child as we do is an easy maxim you can use to setup your allowance.  As time goes on, you’ll want to give them more and more decision-making power over their money. In the beginning, though, you want to establish good behavior by mandating certain choices.  Exaggeration works.  David Owen, in his book First National Bank of Dad, used the concept of exaggerated interest to get across the power of saving.  As the book’s name suggests, Mr. Owen was the family banker.  He knew the small percent of interest that traditional institutions pay on the relatively small amounts the kids were savings would have minimal, if any, impact on his children.  Instead, he provided a much higher rate of interest to emphasize the importance of saving.

So go ahead and setup a three jar system. Don’t forget to have your child set goals using pictures pasted on the jars so that they can visualize their goals as well. In addition, the “Share” jar doesn’t get lost in the process.  There are various ways to accomplish this. Talk to your child about what’s important to them and find a charity that might support that interest. Just as we suggest you do with the “Save” jar, print out and paste a relevant picture (e.g. a pet for adoption or food for a food bank) on the jar to remind your child why he is depositing money into that jar at allowance time. Help him set a goal to save a certain amount and then help them make sure the money gets to that charity. 

At the end of the day, setting up this three jar system can help you as a parent change the conversation from “we can’t afford this” to “have you saved the money for this.” 

John Lanza is the Chief Mammal at Snigglezoo Entertainment, Creator of the Dr. Toy award-winning Money Mammals DVD & book, Joe the Monkey Saves for a Goal that helps kids learn to “Share & Save & Spend Smart Too” and the recently published Joe the Monkey Learns to Share. Lanza also runs The Money Mammals Saving Money Is Fun Kids Club for credit unions nationwide and blogs, tweets and writes often about youth financial literacy.  Find out more at

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Money Mammals and Smith Publicity for sending me the kit featured here. Also, thanks to them for the books for the giveaway. The review of the product was in no way influenced by anything and is my honest opinion (our honest opinion) of the product.

And now for the giveaway:
Two lucky readers in the US will each receive a copy of the latest Joe the Monkey adventure – ‘Joe the Monkey Learns to Share’ by John Lanza. Use the rafflecopter below to sign up for the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. No allowance b/c that is just being a productive member of the family. I don't get paid to clean the house, why should the kids?

  2. No, because when they get older they must realize that no one will pay you to take care of your personal responsibilities.

  3. Think of allowance as a tool to teach kids to make smart money choices. Like Rachelle says, don't tie chores to allowance. If you want to teach them that hard work earns money, give them bigger jobs that they wouldn't necessarily be required to do as part of being a productive member of the family (e.g. raking the leaves, mowing the lawn). It's essential to understand the lesson that allowance is trying to teach (choices) and that teaching kids that earning money requires hard work is a whole different lesson. I hope that helps clarify things.

    John (Chief Mammals)

  4. I don't give allowance for chores because I feel that everyone needs to pitch in around the house, but I do give my children money and they get to put it in their piggy banks or our missionary dimes jar (for the younger kids) or for my oldest daughter she is allowed to spend some, tithe, and has to have a goal to save for some of her money.

  5. Yes we do give a small amount if they are done with a happy heart.

  6. We have basic chores you do because you're part of the family and expected to help out, then we have "bonus" chores that they can ask to do after their regular chores are done and they can earn money for

  7. Yes to allowance. It helps them learn a reward system and also teaches them how to handle money

  8. great giveaway, my kids are just beginning to learn the importance of chores

  9. No children should learn to do chores as a reason to carry their load in the family.

  10. I don't give allowances because I make sure the kids have what they need, and most of what they could ever want. I think it's a responsibility of parents to teach them to work together and accomplish family chores. After our chores are done, we all spend time together!

  11. They have chores and no allowance. They are pretty spoiled though and dont really go without, they have to wait for holidays or birthdays for toys.

  12. i think chores are teaching responsibility and give allowance for etra things

  13. We had expected chores when growing up and did not get "paid" for them, as they were a duty to the household. If we wanted money for something we asked if we could do extra things and were usually given tasks to do for that. I only started getting an allowance when I was in high school as my parents did not want me working outside of the house at a job. However even tho I got the allowance, I had to work at my parent's in home office, filling orders for the club they belonged to.

  14. We have some chores that must be done, and others that should be done and they get paid for them.

  15. yes I do and I pay all three of mine for chores

  16. I do give my granddaughter an allowance when she stays with me. But only if she does all the chores on our list.
    maggietucker10 at

  17. I did the 'spread the word entry'... tried it twice and got and error message on the website both times.

  18. I don't think we'll do allowance for chores but will give them pocket money since it's important to learn to save and manage money and have value.


Love to hear from you! I do read all your comments and do reply whenever I can.. but I will definitely hop on over to visit you...