Slack panic attacks and how two guys are changing the allowance game forever…

piggybank chore app

NewTech PDX

We use a pretty unique instant messenger called Slack to chat with each other throughout the day (and when I say unique, I mean I had never heard of it and I think it’s pretty cool). I was waking up to the sounds of push notifications getting closer and closer together. Adam was late and Oscar was worried.

oscar -8:10 AM

“soooooo any ETA adam? if you aren’t here by 830 you owe me lunch every day for a year”

NewTech PDX is a monthly tech meetup showcasing members of the tech community. This was a great forum for the guys to show off Piggybank to some of Portland’s heavy tech hitters.

adam – 8:19 AM

“Hit Traffic busses and construction but we’re close.”

So what is this Piggybank all the kids are talking about? Are “Traffic busses” the next big thing? No, but Piggybank sure is:

Oscar Godson and Adam Bickford (CEO / CTO) are reimagining allowance and chores, as we know it. The purpose? To take advantage of current technology, give parents insight into their children’s spending, and to ultimately promote healthy financial habits.

Before I get all mushy gushy about the bells and whistles of this app, I want to give some backstory to Piggybank and how we got to this point: our first blog ever.

This is the story as told by Oscar and Adam:

O: In early 2011, I was a web engineer for the city of Portland, OR. I was helping jumpstart the eGov team where we would take private government data and open it up to the public by compiling data or creating APIs. One day, my wife had asked me to join her at a baby shower. This was a baby shower for Adam, my partner and CTO’s, wife. I met Adam there and being that I was a new father myself, and he was about to become one, we quickly became friends. We started talking about tech, movies, music, startups and being a parent.

A: Several months after meeting I was part of a significant layoff. I did a little bit of programming in high school but never pursued it, so I used that unemployed time as an opportunity to get up to speed with current web technology. Oscar facilitated that by mentoring and pointing me to resources like Codecademy. Within just a few months I was taking on freelance projects of my own.

O: In 2012 I went down to San Francisco to work at Yammer. Yammer is an Enterprise Social Network. It allows companies to create these private social networks for employees to talk in a secure way about confidential information. My friends and I at Yammer would often go up on the roof deck on breaks and talk about ideas. One idea that always stuck with me that wasn’t specific to Yammer was the idea of a private Family Social Network but with the goal of dealing with household tasks. It was just one day of pitching ideas about this and that was it, but it stuck in the back of my mind ever since then. About a year and a half later, I was back in Portland working at Simple, a banking startup, and I was learning all about banking and fin-tech industries. I realized I could use my knowledge from this experience to modernize not only task lists, but also early financial education.

A: In May of 2013 Oscar wrote me an email with his thoughts on the idea of “Piggybank” and asked if I wanted to start a company with him. I replied the same day saying yes. We both had other full time jobs, but from that point on we got together nearly every weekend and started prototyping our idea. Our idea has gone from just chores and allowance to wanting to become a full suite of financial tools for families.

O: Since then, we’ve raised some initial seed money to make this company a reality and Adam and I have been working full time on it since Oct. 2014.

JUST THE FACTS MA’AM: some awesome data presented at NewTech PDX:


In a survey conducted by Financial Beginnings, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides finance education to youth and young adults in the Pacific Northwest, it was found that while 85% of surveyed parents think a course in personal finance should be a high school graduation requirement, only 5% of those parents said they learned about personal finance from a teacher. Four out of five felt that it is their responsibility to teach their children about money management, yet only a third of parents said they regularly talk with their kids about money. Statistics like this have a devastating real world impact. The average credit card debt held by indebted households is over $15,000 and a study done by Ohio State University found that young adults are racking up credit card debt faster than any other age group, and that they are slower at paying it off.


So, just how big is the allowance market anyway? It’s big. Really, really big. After some strenuous, in depth research, the guys were surprised by just how big it is. We looked at data from American Express, the US census and more and found that the amount of parents paying for allowance is growing rapidly. In 1980 just 24% of parents paid kids for chores and in 2012 over 60% are. In the US 60% of families have kids under 18, and on average, parents pay children $65 a month. Based on all of that, there are 43 million households that pay for chores, meaning that a whopping 33 billion dollars exchanges hands between parents and their children each year.


More and more, mobile devices are becoming the most widely used and effective learning platform. In just two years from 2011 to 2013 smartphone use among teens grew from 35% to about 70%. During those same years, children 0-8 years who had used a mobile device grew from 38% to 75%. Mobile is exploding for kids, even for very young ones and most parents already have some sort of mobile device. With the rapidly expanding platform that is mobile learning, the advent and accessibility of financial education in the form of a mobile application just makes sense.

Now, for those BELLS AND WHISTLES:

Adam pulls up a slide during the NewTech PDX presentations. The crowd goes wild for the modern, simple aesthetic that is Piggybank:


A: So, let me show you what we’ve come up with so far: The Piggybank chore list page. This is the initial page you see once you login as a parent. You can see pending chores to be approved, chores not yet done, and completed chores. When you tap into a chore you’ll be able to see more info about it such as comments and attachments.


You can use attachments to explain how to do certain tasks or kids can take photos or videos of the job they completed so you can verify their work. Once the task is done you can approve it and the kid will then get the money for that chore right onto their Piggybank card. Also from within Piggybank you can manage your private family network. We’ve come up with an elegant solution to handling families from separated couples or being able to easily include close relatives.
Parents want way to set limits, track everything, all while teaching their kids financial responsibility, so we worked with our processor to allow parents to set limits on times, places, and more. The problem with cash is that you can’t track it and the only real control you have over it is just how much you give out.

Imagine being able to say, you know, “Gabi, you can’t use your card during school hours, but you can whenever on weekends…” or getting a real-time notification when your kid buys something with the location. If a child overspends, not only will parent’s be notified, but we will use that as an opportunity to present learning materials to the child. There are some really powerful tools out there that other companies aren’t truly taking advantage of.


Piggybank will be a freemium product. You’ll be able to sign up and use it as purely a task list to try it out. Once you use this app and fall in love with it, you can request a Piggybank card for your children. After that, every time you as a parent approves a completed chore you’ll be charged the cost of the chore plus a small service charge (usually a few pennies).

What’s next?

Follow Piggybank on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest news or contact us directly for an early look at

Tune in next post for more info on our upcoming pre-beta testing, and how you could help us break the Piggybank.