April is Financial Literacy Awareness Month
Today children of all ages have access smartphones or tablets, and this reality makes mobile apps one of the best avenues for teaching kids and young adults important concepts about financial literacy. These apps can help students to quickly understand money, and the consequences of their financial decisions.
This is a web app that teaches financial literacy as if it were a game. High school and college students go through ‘life’ as an avatar, making financial decisions along the way. They manage student loans, save for a home, and even have to confront financial emergencies, like being robbed. Unlike real life, they can quickly see what will happen in 30 years because of a decision they make today. For example, they’ll learn how credit card interest works by seeing what happens if a high interest credit card is maxed out and only minimum monthly payments are made: it could take 20 years or more to pay off the balance, paying thousands in interest along the way. With this app, kids can see directly how these kinds of decisions impact their financial future.
This app for younger kids (ages 7 and up) features six games that let players earn money. They can choose to save it or spend it, but the goal is to build a nest egg. Kids learn to set goals for saving, and the game rewards them for spending money on smart purchases that have a high net gain. It’s very visual, which makes it appealing to young kids while teaching valuable lessons. Kids can see how spending $1.50 a day on a soda adds up to $547.50 for the year when the screen fills up with soda cups. This app won the Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Savings Spree costs $5.99.
This is a real-world app that kids can use to track their allowance and create a wishlist of things they want to buy. They can log their allowance money as well as extra money they earn from doing chores. They can also upload photos of their wish list items. Once they have saved enough money to buy something from their list, they can rate whether they thought the item was a worthwhile expenditure. P2K Money is free.
LearnVest is a financial management and planning tool for high school and college-aged kids and adults. You use your real income, savings, expenses and investments, and the program gives you actionable advice and tips on how to best manage your money. It can act as a virtual financial planner, helping you to plan how to save for future expenses, like buying a house, college for the kids, and even retirement. You’ll get reminders from your financial expert with challenges and deadlines that will help to keep you on track. More than just a smartphone app, LearnVest costs $19 per month plus $380 in startup costs.
Green$treets: Unleash the Loot!
A financial literacy learning tool disguised as a game, Green$treets lets kids rescue endangered animals by buying food, shelter, and toys to play with before releasing them back into their natural habitat. Because the children form an emotional connection to the animal they are rescuing, they are motivated to use their money wisely in order to reach their goal. This app is aimed at ages 5 to 8 and is free.
This app has two benefits: it teaches financial literacy and also sheds some light on the spending habits of the celebrities that kids may be idolizing. The task for the child is to act as a financial consultant for a celebrity whose spending is out of control. The user has to manage the budget while keeping the celebrity happy. It shows the consequences of overspending in a way that kids can relate to. This app is free, and is designed for kids ages 6 and up.
These apps are all great ways to help students as young as preschool age start thinking about their financial future. They can also help college students and young adults keep a close eye on their savings and spending habits, with an eye toward long-term planning.