There are a number of apps that teach personal finance — and that can be a good thing. Technology can do a lot of the heavy lifting for when it comes to teaching about fiscal responsibility. Why is that?
“One of the major advantages of using technology tools to teach kids about money is that these tools are often experiential in nature,” Jason Young, founder and CEO of MindBlown Labs tells Parentology. “When it comes to teaching skills and money, experiential learning has key benefits that traditional books or lecture-based learning can’t offer.”
The reason is that experiential learning goes beyond the theoretical to allow your child to practice and apply knowledge in real-time and receive feedback. As Young explains, “Experiential learning doesn’t just transmit knowledge, it changes attitudes and behaviors.”
Here are best apps that use experiential learning to help teach kids personal finance.
Revolut lets parents tie their child’s allowance to their smartphone. Based in the UK, this app helps kids aged 12 to 17 learn about budgeting, spending, and fiscal habits. Parents can track their child’s spending through their own account. Just be sure to download Revolut Junior (free), the kids’ version of the Revolut app.
Revolut is currently only available through the App Store.
Thrive ‘n’ Shine
The Thrive ‘n’ Shine app (created by Young’s MindBlown Labs), is a free and fun mobile game about money, where kids can explore the world as an avatar. Through the game, kids learn by making thousands of financial decisions just like they would in real life.
“They go to work, earn money, pay bills, buy their first car, etcetera,” he says. “Unlike the real world, each time they make a decision, they receive feedback on how that decision will affect their avatar’s well-being.” Young says this game has been shown to dramatically increase financial confidence and real-life savings behaviors.
You can download Thrive ‘n’ Shine for free from the Google Play Store and the App Store.
Greenlight is a debit card for kids where they learn to manage real money. “This is important because it allows them to understand important concepts like wants versus needs and scarcity – and how scarcity works even better with delayed gratification,” explains Young. “Kids will also begin to understand the mechanics of using digital transaction mechanisms like debit and credit cards.”
Download Greenlight from Google Play or the App Store for $4.99 a month.
The FamZoo app claims that it prepares kids for the financial jungle by helping them learn how to earn and save money. Kids can use a prepaid card tied to their FamZoo account to learn about spending money without fear that they will overdraft their card or wrack up hidden fees. Choose between a prepaid card account and an IOU account. (The IOU account is perfect for parents and caregivers who aren’t ready to let their children have the financial reigns of free-spending.)
A subscription costs as low as $0.63 cents per card. Sign up at the FamZoo website.
A virtual bank for kids, Bankaroo teaches users to budget and set financial goals. Good for kids aged 5 to 14 years old. You can track your child’s spending and earnings with ease, since you can download the app to any mobile device. While the app is free to use, you can also opt for a paid version.
Download bankaroo from Google Play, the App Store, and Amazon apps.
Tech Transcends Evolution
Young says it’s worth noting that for most of human history we have transacted using physical means. “In other words, we’ve bought things using money or by trading goods,” he says. “The human mind is not well adapted to transacting using cards.” In fact, he says research shows that people spend much more when transacting digitally than they do when using cash. “Tools like Thrive ‘n’ Shine, Greenlight, and Famzoo can be really helpful in this respect.”
However, there isn’t any one single solution to teach your child everything.
“Managing money is an applied skill, [like driving],” he says. “You would never just toss your child the keys to the car [without any prior experience driving] and say have at it.” Just like many skills, it takes time to become financially proficient. “Technology is an important tool for educating kids about money, but can be made much more effective if you combine multiple solutions over time to ensure that your child fully develops appropriately in this area.”