5 Best Apps for Teaching Kids About Money

Hey now, April is Financial Literacy Month. Not that exciting, I know. But you know what is exciting? The cool new apps that will help you ...

Hey now, April is Financial Literacy Month. Not that exciting, I know. But you know what is exciting? The cool new apps that will help you teach your kids about money. I mean, if your kids are like mine, they're hogging your phone or tablet all the live-long day anyway. Might as well make them learn valuable life lessons while they're on there, right?

The technology with which we manage our money is evolving at such a fast pace; it can seem daunting to keep up. However, that technology can actually be a great tool for teaching our kids about money in an increasingly digital world.

5 Best Apps for Teaching Kids About Money

There are now apps for every age and stage of learning money management – from those first chore charts to embarking on college adventures. Here are five of the best apps, one for each age group:

Ages 3-6

PiggyBot – Starting in preschool, kids start to grasp the idea that money helps make their worlds go round. It’s how we buy groceries and how we buy toys. It’s the reason their parents have to work instead of spending all day with them. Just about everything costs money, and work is how we make money. When kids start to string these concepts together, it’s the perfect time to start a chore chart so they can start building a good work ethic while earning a little bit of their own spending cash.
PiggyBot (available for free in the iTunes store) is a virtual piggy bank that helps young kids manage their chore charts and keep track of money earned. Parents decide how to allocate chore money (or allowance) into spend-it, share-it, and save-it categories, and tasks can be added manually to each child’s individual profile. Kids can set savings goals and view their progress as they work towards what they want. They can even add pictures alongside the price tag of their desired items to keep them feeling motivated.
The perks for parents? Instead of having to shell out cash at the end of each week, you can just put money into the PiggyBot IOU account for each child, and deduct money when your kids spend it – or when they go to an ATM to cash out. Plus, it’s an easy way to get kids excited about their savings goals and earning money. (There’s a burst of confetti each time you get paid.)

Ages 7-10

Savings Spree –When kids get a little older, it’s time to introduce more advanced money concepts into their lives. But sitting down to teach kids about the impact of spending habits or the value of frugality doesn’t exactly make for a thrilling lesson — unless of course that experience is turned into a game with all the bells and whistles to keep them engaged.
Savings Spree (available for $5.99 in the iTunes store) fits the bill perfectly for this age group. It’s an exciting, endlessly entertaining game that definitely doesn’t feel educational when you’re playing it. The game-show style host leads the player through six rounds that test their financial literacy and teach kids the real-world consequences of how they choose to spend, invest, and donate their money. As kids want the work available to them in the game, they also learn a bit about entrepreneurial pursuits and the realities of the job market. The serious lessons this game conveys will definitely make a mark on your kids’ financial future.

Ages 11-14

iAllowance – Much like PiggyBot, iAllowance (available for $3.99 in the iTunes store) is an app that helps kids track and manage their chore charts, but the interface is definitely more geared toward tweens. Kids are able to see all their weekly chores at a glance, set a variety of savings goals, and track their balances across different categories. The rewards dashboard is an excellent addition. Parents can also add non-monetary rewards for chores (such as video game/iPad time) along with kids’ cash-based goals.
This app is ideal for parents who are looking to up the responsibility factor with their tweens. Parents can set allowance amounts for categories like clothing, spending, donating, and investing, and kids can see when money is deposited and deducted, just like they would in a bank account. It gives tweens a good grasp of what it looks like to balance a checkbook without the fear of over-drafting, and there is plenty of room for personalization and increased responsibility as kids grow.

Ages 15-18

Toshl Finance – Once your teen has a job and bank account, it’s time to graduate to the big leagues. Toshl Finance is an app that can see teens from their first job into college — and beyond. It’s got all the basics of a budgeting app like Mint, but Toshl’s fun graphics make it extra easy for teens to tune in and see where their money is going. The bill reminders are likely to be a lifesaver as kids start to take over their own finances.
The best part about Toshl is that it does planning for the future natural, which is something that teens definitely need a little help with. You can tag expenses and see your spending trends through the months (and years), easing the transition to a full-blown, grown-up budget.
Bonus App

USAA BANK’S MOBILE APP

This members-only bank doesn’t have a special app for children, but it allows kids ages 13 and over to access their youth savings and spending accounts online and on the bank’s regular mobile app with their parent’s approval. The free app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Some app features, such as USAA Money Manager, which categorizes spending,  aren’t accessible to children under 18, and parents control other features they wish to extend to their child, such as remote check deposit.
“This comes down to teaching the basics of banking in a real-world scenario,” says Brian Hurtak, an executive director with the bank. USAA is open only to active and former military members, their families, and cadets or midshipmen.

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