The FamZoo Story

Like a lot of companies, FamZoo was born out of a personal need. By mid 2002, my oldest children had reached an age where I thought that having an allowance would be a good way for them to learn about managing money, gain some responsibility, and generally stop badgering me for miscellaneous impulsive purchases on their behalf. I started out by tracking their allowance earnings and associated spending with an Excel spreadsheet. After a while, I grew tired of fielding their frequent requests to know their current balance and how much they had left to spend. With the allowance spreadsheet squirreled away on my laptop computer, everything had to be handled by me, and I didn’t like being a bottleneck. Being a software developer by trade, I figured it was time to automate (and delegate). So, one weekend in February 2005, I built a very modest family Web site where our kids could sign in to see their own account balances for themselves and review their past saving and spending history. I could sign in separately to make additions and subtractions.

At first I didn’t think of the system as much more than a time saving trick for myself and something of a novelty for my kids (“Hey Matt, look what my Dad did — I can see my allowance on the Internet. Cool, huh?”). But over time, I realized that, with minimal effort on my part, the system was helping my kids learn some basic lessons of money management and personal responsibility. (“Dad, can you buy me an iPod?” “Uh, no, but if you sign in and check your balance, you can figure out how many months you’ll have to save your allowance to buy one for yourself.”) It also became a convenient and relatively unemotional way to hold the kids accountable when they did something naughty or irresponsible, like burping loudly at the dinner table, repeatedly evading their chores, or racking up overage charges on their cell phones by downloading custom ring tones and sending a countless text messages. It turned out to be a very handy tool for teaching consequences (beyond the obligatory eyeball-roll-inducing parental lectures, of course).

Over the next year and a half, I became convinced that other families could benefit from such an online tool as well if I could make it simple and flexible enough. I also realized that by extending the system, I could help teach (through active and regular practice) a broader array of responsible habits like saving wisely, serving your community, and helping others. By the summer of 2006, I resolved to start a company around the concept. Day One of FamZoo started at 4:30AM on Saturday, August 5th, 2006. If you’d like to know more, you can read the rest of the story here.

Thank you for using FamZoo. I hope your family finds FamZoo to be the fun, educational, and meaningful experience that it has been for my family.

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