Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Saving for a Rainy Day?

reproduced under Creative Commons license
Well, we’re a few weeks in to the PKTMNY project and the kids are really getting into the idea of saving for goals. They’ve both been furiously adding items to their Wishlists and regularly reviewing what’s on there in terms of amounts saved.

Their cards came through the post and they couldn’t wait for me to register them (and set withdrawal and spending limits – which I’d done when I opened their accounts anyway).  They haven’t remembered their pin numbers (they can barely remember what they’re supposed to do from one minute to the next at times!) but they can click on their page to get it again once they need it.

Are they enthusiastic about PKTMNY? Absolutely.

Do they love the website and having a debit card? Definitely.

Do they like setting up goals and wishlists and monitoring their tasks? Yep.

Does this translate into them actually doing the tasks? Erm, well, hmmm…

My son has downgraded his goal from a PSVita to a Beyblade (wise child) and my daughter has put hairclips on her list so that shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.  And they’re very enthusiastic about it.  The problem is though, that their enthusiasm doesn’t last beyond us checking their accounts and activity each week.

They’ve already learned to aim for achievable items – like a Beyblade or hairclips – rather than big ticket items and that came purely from being able to see in front of them just how big a gap there was between their pocket money savings and what they wanted.  Far more effective than me simply telling them that they would have to save up for years.

They’ve also learned a little bit about security – we had a long chat about how you had to remember your pin and not write it down or anyone could steal it.  Not only did that ensure they had an almost secret squirrel operation around getting their pin – with neither sibling allowed to be present while the other checked – but they’re also hugely impressed by the fact that their mother can remember 4 pin numbers!

Personally, I like the PKTMNY website.  I think it’s a great idea and both my children love the visual aspect to it, particularly being able to see what they’re trying to achieve and how much they have to spend. 

I suspect though that they’re just a wee bit on the young side (9 and 6) for it to translate into them carrying out tasks to earn pocket money.  That said, they’re far more enthusiastic about the idea that they were before so I’ll be sticking to using PKTMNY. 

It will take a lot more input from me – in terms of cajoling them to do their tasks – than I had hoped.  But then again, perhaps I’m being unrealistic about what a 9 and 6 year old will do to help out around the house.

This post is part of a project with BritMums, sponsored by PKTMNY, highlighting its launch. The new tool allows parents to easily pay and monitor their children's pocket money online, whilst allowing their children to earn, save, spend and manage their money in a totally safe and fun way. We have been trailing the service and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, 7 December 2012

It’s Pocket Money Day!

Being a thrifty sort of a mummy (the clue IS in the name), I’ve always tried to encourage my two to save attempting the old ‘pocket money in exchange for tasks’ technique with varying degrees of success.   

They are only 9 and 6, so I’m realistic about how much they will help around the house – or how much they will save – but, as they know that I won’t waste £2.99 on a comic, they do (when they remember) attempt to earn enough to cover the cost themselves.  The problem, of course, is that they (and me) quite often forget what they’re supposed to be doing and when – especially when the other ‘stuff’ gets in the way – like school, homework, swimming lessons, rugby, ballet and the rest.

So, our patchy approach to pocket money, I jumped at the chance to get better organised by taking part in testing out a new site aimed at encouraging kids saving habits. 

PKTMNY is a website that helps parents to monitor their kids spending (and decide how much they’re going to give them!) while the children themselves get their own debit card (don’t worry, you set the spending limit) and can save for items on their ‘wishlist’ (which they post on their page as a nice visual goal to aim for).  All sounds good, I thought, and in this tech savvy day and age, something that my two would probably be more interested in.

On setting up their accounts, I had the choice of setting up regular pocket money, paying one-off amounts (presumably for ‘special’ treats) and paying money for completion of specific tasks.   
Set them tasks and tick them off as they're done - simple!

Being a mean sort *evil laugh* I’ve only set it up for the latter.  I already save for my children in other ways and really wanted to use this site to encourage them to save money while also helping out.  I like the idea of being financially rewarded for tasks – it’s how the world of work operates after all – so I don’t think it’s too bad a lesson to learn.  Or one that can be learned too early.

So, two weeks in and the kid’s cards have arrived (much excitement on their part).  However, their earnings have been pitifully low.  ‘Oh no, are we back in the cycle of us all forgetting and it all falling flat on its face?’ 

Well, I actually think probably not.  Part of the problem has been the time of year – it’s Christmas with all the accompanying activities and ridiculous amounts of end of term homework – so in other words, it’s been the busiest couple of weeks so far this year.

But last night, when they sat down with me to ‘get paid’, they could see the tasks they had and hadn’t done alongside how much they could have earned.  There’s nothing like a visual reminder to send a message home.   

Rather than arguing with me that they had fed the cats (who were meowing through hunger at our feet at the time!) they were both rather sheepish on discovering how little they’d achieved when I only ticked 2 out of the possible 5 tasks for my eldest and 2 out of the 3 for my youngest.  However, rather than the usual whining about how they’d forgotten (which usually quickly escalates into how totally unfair life is) there was instead lots of chat between the two of them about how they were going to help this week; how much they would have by this Saturday and how much they might have by the end of the year.  So, judging by their very enthusiastic discussions, I am cautiously optimistic.

My two are still young but I think it’s important for them to earn their own money.  I earned pocket money as a child and that really helped me to become a saver.  I remember getting my first part-time job when I was still at school and saving until I had enough to pay for driving lessons.  I was very proud of the fact that I paid for them myself and never had to ask my parents to shell out.  
The kids can keep an eye on their savings going up via the website

I hope that getting the children enthusiastic about saving will set them on the same path.  And the very visual way that the PKTMNY site does this – with obvious rewards and goals to aim for – might be just the way to do it! 

That said, with a current balance of £4, I think it's fair to say that Cheeky Boy is a long way off buying the PS Vita on his Wishlist but you've gotta have a dream!

This post is part of a project with BritMums, sponsored by PKTMNY, highlighting its launch. The new tool allows parents to easily pay and monitor their children's pocket money online, whilst allowing their children to earn, save, spend and manage their money in a totally safe and fun way. We have been trailing the service and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Gluten Free Flour Mix - courtesy of Phil Vickery

Having just blogged about my gluten free Christmas cake (adapted from Phil Vickery's fabulous recipe), here's the gluten free flour mix that you need for it:

Combine 300g fine polenta or chestnut flour
500g brown rice flour
200g cornflour

And that's it!