As a parent, one of your most important jobs is to prepare your children for the real world. Yet, when it comes to teaching financial literacy to your kids, you might not know where to start.
If the idea of teaching your children about money is overwhelming, you’re not alone. In fact, you might not feel like you have a perfect grasp on financial matters yourself. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, nearly 80% of U.S. adults agree that they could use professional advice and answers to everyday financial questions.
Here’s the good news. When it comes to teaching kids about money, you don’t have to do it on your own. Check out this list of five activities, apps, and resources you can use to teach your kids about financial literacy in a relatable way.
When it comes to money apps for kids, Savings Spree shines. The app, winner of a Parents’ Choice Award, teaches children about money in a fun, interactive way.
Savings Spree is set up as a game where kids get the chance to play with imaginary money. Throughout the game’s six rounds, kids learn how daily choices can add up to big expenses or big savings. Smart choices are rewarded with money earned. Bad choices are penalized with money lost.
More about Savings Spree:
- The app is best for kids ages 7 to 12.
- It’s only available for Apple devices.
- Savings Spree currently costs $5.99 in the App Store.
Finding financial literacy activities for elementary students can be especially challenging. Renegade Buggies stands out as a fast-paced game which can help younger children to learn about saving money while grocery shopping.
The app, created by National Center for Families Learning, is similar to Subway Surfers (a popular kids’ game for mobile devices). Kids control a shopping cart as it zooms down the street toward the checkout line. Players collect coins, coupons, and the items on their shopping list. If players pick up extra items that aren’t on their shopping list, they are penalized. After crossing the finish line, players are sent to the checkout counter where they get a chance to choose the item which is the best deal (based upon cost per unit size).
More about Renegade Buggies:
- The app is rated best for children ages 6 and up.
- It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.
- Renegade app is free to play, thanks to a sponsorship from the Dollar Tree Literacy Foundation.
If you’re searching for financial literacy activities for kids, you don’t want to overlook the digital allowance management app known as RoosterMoney. Teaching kids how to manage their own allowance properly can be a great way to install sound financial habits at a young age.
According to The Allowance Report (a survey of RoosterMoney users), the average allowance given to kids aged 4-14 in the United States is $9.06 per week. Whether your children earn more or less than that average, the app gives your children a way to manage their own money from a phone or tablet. The app encourages savings and purposeful spending.
One of the best features of RoosterMoney is the opportunity to reward kids for saving by adding on a parent-paid interest feature. You can choose the interest rate you will pay your kids for saving money and show them how saving and investing can help their money to grow over time.
More about RoosterMoney:
- The app is rated best for children ages 4 and up.
- It’s available on the App Store, Google Play, and on Amazon.
- RoosterApp offers a free version with an optional upgrade for $2.99 per month or $18.99 per year.
- If you want to unlock features like chore assignments or interest on savings, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version.
Another smart app which can teach kids to manage their own money is Bankaroo. Set up as a virtual bank for kids, the app and website allow users to set budgeting and savings goals. The app doesn’t attach to a real bank account, but it gives kids the experience of online money management at the Bank of Mom and Dad.
Interestingly, the app was developed by an 11-year-old named Dani Gafni (with some help from her dad). One standout feature of the app is the ability to set up recurring allowance deposits and deductions. These can be useful tools for teaching your child about recurring monthly bills and income.
More about Bankaroo:
- The app is rated best for children ages 4 and up.
- It’s available on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon.
- Bankaroo can be downloaded for free, but paid upgrades are available.
- The Bankaroo Plus upgrade can be purchased for $4.99 and it unlocks features like checking, savings, charity accounts, and transfers between accounts or between siblings.
The Savings Jar
Although apps and online resources can be a great way to teach your children about saving money, don’t forget that some very low-tech methods can get the job done as well. For example, a basic savings jar can show your kids the value of giving up something you want now for something else you want more later.
Here’s how it works. First, you need to figure out a savings goal that will motivate your children. Maybe it’s a family vacation to the beach, but any big goal can work so long as it’s something that will excite and motivate your children. Next, sit your kids down and ask them if they would like to save money together as a family toward that big goal. Most likely they’ll be thrilled to start.
Explain that everyone can put money into the jar anytime. Chore money, birthday money, spare change, or anything else they want to contribute is fair game. If you plan to help your children save toward this goal (like a family vacation), it’s helpful to actually pull cash out of the bank so your kids can see the savings grow with their own eyes.
The savings jar is also a great way to teach kids about delayed gratification. Sure, it might be hard to pass up that toy in the store they want now, but giving up that purchase can help your child get what they really want in the future.
Finally, if you’re saving for a big goal that will take several months to achieve, it’s helpful to add in a monthly savings jar “check-up.” Sit down with your kids, count what you’ve saved together, and maybe even record your progress on a chart until the goal has been reached. These hands-on lessons can be a wonderful way to teach kids the value of being purposeful with money.
The Most Effective Way to Teach Financial Literacy Is by Example
While it’s a great idea to reinforce sound money-management habits through activities, apps, and resources, don’t forget that the most effective way to teach your children financial literacy is by being a good example. A University of Cambridge study found that the basic money skills you discuss and demonstrate to your children will shape their financial behavior more than anything else.
Talk to your kids about money daily – when you budget, go to the ATM, or forgo an unnecessary purchase to save for a bigger want or need. If you need to build better money habits yourself, these financial tools from RISE can be a great place to start.