If the words ‘test drive’ make you think about jumping into a new, shiny car and nothing else, you may want to Google Jeremy Clarkson or Top Gear instead of reading this. According to ‘Ask Jeeves’ there are a few cars with names starting with a ‘Q’, but Qwiddle has nothing to do with motoring.
Qwiddle is an on-line piggy bank/electronic wallet for children, running on PayPal platform, and I have just signed up my son for it.
Before I go any further, I would like to clarify that this is not a marketing post, but simply a write-up of my first impressions of Qwiddle. I have not received/been promised anything in return for writing my review – I just like sharing my views with people who like finding out about new things. I like the idea behind Qwiddle, so decided to give it a go and wanted to share my thoughts about it. Why would I do this? You might as well ask me why I breathe… It’s just the sort of thing I do – if I find something interesting or useful, I like to tell people about it and hopefully they might benefit from it, too.
Why go Qwiddle?
I first came across Qwiddle about a month ago and have been planning to sign up since then, but something always got in the way. Primarily, the children were always busy doing something else and I wanted them to be involved in the process rather than do it all for them. In last two weeks, my older son started dipping into his birthday money each time he was going out to meet up with his friends – I don’t understand why boys of certain age consider it entertaining to go round local corner shops spending all the money they have.
Yesterday, my son announced he wanted a ‘penny board’ (it’s like a baby version of a skate board and apparently the latest ‘must-have’), with prices starting at ‘mere’ £40 for the lesser models. Based on the rate at which he was emptying his wallet, I thought that ‘penny board’ was not going to happen. I told him I was not buying it for him and this morning we sat down and signed up for Qwiddle. I hope that, when he sees on a computer screen how much money he has and how close he is to being able to buy the things he wants, it will help him appreciate the value of money and make him think about how he spends it.
Last but not least, I’m going to put all his cash into Qwiddle, so that he can’t take a note out of his wallet each time he goes to the park. Call me a control freak, but I do know that spending £2 here or there can make cash run out very quickly, without even realising.
So what are my first impressions of Qwiddle?
It took about 15 minutes to complete the registration. I had to register myself as a parent and then register my son for a Qwiddle account and a PayPal account. I got a bit confused in the sign-up process, as a form popped up asking me to provide details for a PayPal account – I already have a PayPal account, so was a bit worried I may end up with another one, but the system must have found it somehow and did not make me set it up again.
After I have entered my details, a screen for a child registration came up. It asked for all the usual things – the child’s name, date of birth, email address or mobile phone number if available. The child does not have to have his/her own email or mobile number, it is possible to provide the parent’s details instead – which is what you would probably want to do for a younger child.
Following the Qwiddle registration, a child’s PayPal registration window popped up. This is where my son’s money will be kept, but only I know the password for his PayPal account, so he is unable to make payments or withdraw any money himself.
Theoretically, it should be possible to sign up for Qwiddle without opening a PayPal account for the child (as stated in the FAQ section on Qwiddle’s website), but I could not do that – there was no option for a ‘PayPal-less’ registration and we had to set up a PayPal account for my son to be able to complete the registration.
Once fully registered, we had three new passwords: one for my ‘view’ of the Qwiddle account, one for my son’s Qwiddle account and the third one for his PayPal account. My son only knows his Qwiddle account password, the other two are for my access only. We logged out and logged in again just to check it all worked as it should, and it did.
Now the fun part started. Qwiddle lets the children set up on-line their chosen goals they want to save towards – this is the key feature of the service they provide – and this is what got my son excited. He set up his ‘penny board’ and two other things as his goals, including how much money he needed to be able to buy them. He even went on Amazon and eBay to check for the best prices of the things he wanted to save for; I must admit I was impressed!
How can children save in Qwiddle?
Once the saving goals and their prices are set up, they are shown on the screen, together with their prices and the amount of money the child has saved towards them (and that’s the money sitting in their PayPal account). The next step it to set up various ways in which children can boost their savings – e.g. getting paid for various chores. Qwiddle even provides a list of suggestions, such as:
- Washing up/empty dishwasher
- Clean/tidy bedroom
- Put away ironed clothes
- Do homework
- Wash the car
- Cut the grass
- Help out with younger brothers/sisters
- Tidying up in general…
Personally, I would never pay my children for doing their homework, helping out with younger siblings, or tidying up, but for those who see things differently, the option is there. Plus, it is possible to add whatever other ways of earning money you wish.
We have settled on washing the car and cleaning inside the car – this is something I pay for anyway, so might as well pay my son rather than the car-wash people in a supermarket car park. An interesting discussion ensued from that – my son offered to wash a car every week (no way he is doing that, I can’t drive a car THAT clean) and suggested that cleaning inside the car should be more expensive because it was a harder job to do. I said the best way to make it an easier job was to stop making a mess in the car in the first place. I think he understood.
How do you put money into your child’s account?
I am not going to go into technical details of how Qwiddle operates, as this is very clearly explained on their website, but I will mention just one thing – the way to pay money into a child’s Qwiddle/PayPal account is either from a parent’s PayPal account or by a debit or credit card. I have not tried the debit card route, so can’t comment on that, but when trying to pay money into my son’s account, there was a message in the payments dialogue box saying: ‘If you haven’t got a PayPal account, then have a debit or credit card handy’.
If a parent’s PayPal account is linked to a bank account, then sending money to a child’s Qwiddle account is free, but if the PayPal account is linked only to a credit card, then sending money to the child’s account will incur a charge. The charge is 3.4% + 20p per transaction, so it would cost e.g. £5.37 if you were to give your child £5, or £10.34 for a £10 payment. You can choose whichever method you prefer.
The education bit.
Apart from a visual presentation of goals and savings, Qwiddle has a ‘Learn About Money’ section with loads of money-related information which is accessible for registered members. There are articles about where the money came from, what interest rates are about, budgeting, wise spending, funding a gap year and even the Bank of England and exchange rates.
I particularly like the story about the origin of money, starting off with swapping chickens for bread and flour. This is a really useful section of the website and depending on your child’s age, you can find an appropriate article to read together and talk about money in general, setting goals, saving, spending etc.
To finish off…
My PayPal payment into my son’s account is taking a little longer than I would expect. I am testing the system with just £10 to start with, and at the moment this amount is showing as ‘pending’ on my PayPal account, but hasn’t reached my son’s Qwiddle/PayPal account yet, despite him having received an email notification about the payment I’ve made. I guess PayPal is having a bit of a slower day today.
The wait aside, I am glad we have signed up. It has already got my son thinking about how much he is willing to fork out for his ‘penny board’ and made us talk again about budgeting and spending in general. As I said in my earlier post, Money Matters – Is It Time To Talk?, I think it’s never too early to start teaching children about money. I just hope my son is going to keep his car-washing promise!