The following blog post was written by the Iowa Credit Union League.
According to NerdWallet’s annual analysis of U.S. household debt, the total debt held among American households (including mortgages, auto loans, HELOCs, student loans and more) reached $13.51 trillion by the end of 2018. Further, among the graduating class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans, and graduated with an average debt of $29,800.
Debt is daunting and makes individuals feel like being debt-free is an unrealistic dream. But it doesn’t have to be. By teaching and encouraging your children to responsibly manage money from very early on, they can access the tools, expertise and resources they need along the way to become financially responsible adults and hopefully start reversing these debt trends.
It’s never too early to start teaching kids the fundamentals of money management. And using apps for smartphones and tablets can even make the learning process fun. To follow are eight widely recognized apps available to provide children, teens and even young adults with the basics of financial literacy and money management:
- Bankaroo (5 – 14 years) – This bilingual(English/Spanish) app serves as a virtual bank for kids – helping users to manage their allowance, gifts and chore money – without being tied to an actual bank account. Content teaches children how to budget, set financial goals, save and use basic accounting skills.
- Celebrity Calamity (6+ years)– App users play three mini games in which they act as the financial consultants for celebrities whose spending tendencies are out of control. The user manages the celebrity’s budget while trying to keep the celebrity happy. The app teaches the consequences of overspending in a way younger minds can understand.
- FamZoo Family Finance(13+ years) – Featured in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Money magazine, the FamZoo app enables pre-teens and teens to become more responsible for their real-life purchases. This is a collection of prepaid cards for the family that are linked by the app where users can manage the family’s spending,saving, donations, allowances, chores, budgets, goals, loans and more.
- LearnVest (HighSchool – Young Adult)– This fee-based app is for young adults and focuses on reducing credit card debt,building emergency funds, and planning for retirement. App holders use their real income, savings, expenses and investments, and the program provides recommendations on how to best manage their money. Acting as a virtual financial planner, the app helps users to save for future big-ticket expenses such a house, college or retirement.
- Piggybot (4 – 6years) – A parent-designed, kid-tested allowance app that helps kids spend,share and save in a smarter way. Users can set up a virtual account with a PIN and parents can send their kids an allowance or gift money via the app. Kids can set savings goals and document photos of things they want to save for to remain motivated.
- Renegade Buggies (6+ years) – Designed by the NationalCenter for Families Learning (NCFL) and recipient of a REVERE award, this fast-paced gaming app encourages the player to save as much money as possible by the end of a grocery run. Smart shopping strategies come into play as users can compare unit sizes, use coupons and even buy in bulk to save.The higher the savings, the bigger the reward.
- Savings Spree (7+years) – The recipient of a Parents’ Choice Award in Mobile Apps, this app allows kids and teens to earn,spend, donate or invest imaginary money in a game show format. Users can play to earn money by making smart financial decisions, but also lose money by making a wrong choice.
- The Game of Life (4+ years) – An electronic version of the popular board game, players are encountered with critical life decisions where they may have to choose between investments such as paying for college or purchasing a home.
Teaching youth how to make smart decisions about money from an early age can help ensure they make informed decisions about saving for emergencies, pursuing and paying for college and planning for their future. In addition to using fun apps and other resources, simple and routine money conversations between parents and children can help foster their future financial success.