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Roosterbank, PKTMNY: pocket money goes online

Simon Ward
by Lovemoney Staff Simon Ward on 15 November 2012  |  Comments 4 comments

Two new services allow parents to dish out pocket money and manage their children's spending online. But are they as useful as they sound?

Roosterbank, PKTMNY: pocket money goes online

Getting children to learn about the value of money and how to manage it is one of the biggest challenges of being a parent. Two new online services, Roosterbank and PKTMNY, promise the ability to give your children their pocket money and manage their spending.

Roosterbank

Roosterbank works by a system of virtual credit, with both parent and child setting up an account. The parent can then gift the child pocket money, either as a set amount weekly on a specific day or in a lump sum whenever they want to.

The child’s account shows the amount of pocket money they have available to spend at any time. They can then choose to spend it in the Shop, leave it in their account or donate it to charity (charities include the Dogs Trust and Send A Cow).

RoosterbankThe child can shop for products and then add them to a basket. Once the item is added to the basket, it is sent to the parent’s account where they can approve, decline it or leave it on hold.

If the parent approves the item, they are prompted to buy it using a checkout.

If they don't want to buy it there and then, it's added to a saver basket that shows how much money they need to be able to afford it.

The products are all sold via Amazon, so the parent is transacting with Amazon (with Roosterbank picking up some money via Amazon’s affiliate programme). This means that Roosterbank never holds any real money.

If a child doesn’t have enough money to pay for an item, they can request a ‘boost’, which is sent to the parent via email.

As well as the pocket money element, there’s also a farm simulation game (which bears more than a passing resemblance to hugely successful Facebook app Farmville). Here, children can play games to earn points to buy and keep animals.

If I was a cynical person, I would say this was designed to keep children on the site longer where they will doubtless look at more things to buy with their pocket money.

There will also be a community set up for older children later.

While it’s a nice idea in principle, the overtly commercial focus and the ability for children to request boosts means it could lead to a lot of nagging and harassment of parents. The fact that the shopping site is currently limited to Amazon also means that there’s no opportunity to shop around for the best price.

PKTMNY

PKTMNY works differently to Roosterbank in that children are issued with a physical prepaid Visa debit card, although you decide how much money the child has.

There is a one-off fee of £5 for joining PKTMNY and a monthly membership charge of £1 per child. You’ll also be charged fees if the child withdraws money from an ATM (50p in the UK, £2 abroad) and for adding money to the card via your credit card (1.21% of the amount you’re adding) or debit card (50p each time). There’s no charge for adding money via your bank account.

You can set up a regular Standing Order pocket money payment onto the card, which is also free of any fees.

PKTMNYThe parent activates the card and sets the limits before the child is able to use it. They can also dictate where the card can be used: via cash machines, on the high street and online. But it can't be used to purchase age-restricted products, such as fuel and alcohol.

There is an option to set tasks, such as washing a car or helping with the cleaning, and set an amount that will be paid if the task is completed.

The child can also create a wishlist of items they want to buy and savings targets to show how far away they are from being able to afford them.

There are some definite plus points to PKTMNY, notably that issuing a card to older children (I would suggest 13 plus, although the minimum age to use it is eight) empowers them to manage their money in a real world way. But there's also the ability to limit money and where it can be spent can stop things if they get out of control.

The task functionality is also a nice way to illustrate how a child can be rewarded for work. 

The downsides are the fees, which PKTMNY says are to cover the cost of the card and, as is common with any pre-paid card, the fact that the child doesn't earn interest on any savings. Which leads me to…

Alternatives

As a parent you can, of course, pay in pocket money to a child's bank or savings account via a regular Standing Order. Having said that, if your child has their own cash or debit card they can spend that money as they want. But one or two mistaken splurges could teach them a valuable money lesson they carry through into adulthood.

So using Roosterbank or PKTMNY instead of putting money in a savings or bank account misses out an important money-saving lesson. Namely that by saving and earning interest you’re making more money than you would if you keep your money in a piggy bank or savings jar or on a pre-paid card.

For example, Halifax’s Kids' Regular Saver account pays 6% interest for a year. You can deposit between £10-£100 a month.

To see all the latest best buy children's savings accounts, head to Top savings accounts for kids!

What do you think of these pocket money management sites? What's the best way to teach kids about managing their money? Let us know in the Comments box below.

More on children's money matters

Child Benefit changes: what you need to know

How to claim your Tax Credits

How your kids can start making money

The best Junior ISAs

The top Child Trust Funds

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Comments (4)

  • Overtone
    Love rating 38
    Overtone said

    Educating your child about managing money is an extremely important responsibility for parents, and you can hardly start too soon if you want them to have learnt how to behave responsibly by the time they really need to.

    We gave our daughter pocket money from when she was seven or eight, and when she was eleven we gave her an allownce - a sum of money to cover all her normal outgoings, including paying for music lessons, bus fares, and some clothes, so she had to work out how much she needed for these "necessities" and therefore how much she could afford to spend on things entirely for herself. It worked so well that when she was about nineteen she said one day: "I'm always thinking about whether I can afford this or that, and it's your fault, for reminding me so many times to think about whether I've got enough left for things I might want to do."

    Roosterbank and PKTMNY both seem good ideas to help to learn money management, preferably the latter as Roosterbank will offer too many temptations making the child's decisions more difficult. But they cannot be substitutes for the role of parents, and I think it's also helpful if a child gets some cash directly from parents, as children cannot go out to cash machine at any hour of the day or night in the way that parents can.

    Report on 17 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • lauradean
    Love rating 14
    lauradean said

    Ridiculous, apart from the charges are we really encouraging children and parents to communicate by email.

    If you need to have a conversation about money surely this can be done face to face and the reasons for deciding whether to lend or not explained to the child.

    I absolutely agree that children should be educated about financial matters but not by a 3rd party website.

    Report on 17 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • hopefultom
    Love rating 50
    hopefultom said

    I agree with both postings, particularly points raised by lauradean.

    The PKTMNY scheme was reviewed by Moneybox and they listed the charges which could be applicable, including a couple which you did not mention.

    If I remember correctly, there is a charge if the child spends money outside the UK, and there is also a chage to close an account.

    Altogether too many charges for a facility, which I ( and lauradean ) consider superfluous

    Report on 18 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • DeanPktMny
    Love rating 0
    DeanPktMny said

    Hi, it's Dean from PktMny here. I just wanted to give you a quick response to the comments about PktMny, clarify a few points and let you know about some changes we've recently made since this article was published. In terms of PktMny fees, we don't charge a joining or cancellation fee and we don't charge to use ATMs in the UK. We simply charge £1.97 per child per month. You can find out more info on fees here: http://www.pktmny.com/cardholder-terms/#is-there-a-fee.

    @lauradean, thanks for raising your concerns about our service. Like you, we don't believe in 'digitising' relationships through online solutions, email and social media, but we do believe in tools that makes parents lives easier and facilitate a relationship offline with their children. In fact, the thousands of parents that use PktMny tell us how it's a great way to bring about positive conversations around money and how their children are making better spending choices and developing sound money management habits as a result. Obviously, PktMny won't be for everyone, but parents whose children use it do tell us how beneficial it is for them, so why not have a look at our website and get back to us with your thoughts – www.pktmny.com

    Report on 01 July 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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