The days of working hard to earn a buck aren’t exactly gone, but the personal finance landscape is certainly more complicated now than it was a few decades ago. Budgeting and building credit are only the beginning—you also have student loans, mortgage rates and maybe even cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
It’s all a little much for an adult. But for a kid? Forget about it.
At least, you can forget about it if you sit your kids down to explain the importance of a solid credit score. Financial concepts require a little more pizzazz if they hope to gain entry to the young mind. And as it turns out, smartphone apps are pretty much the perfect packaging for kid-friendly financial wisdom.
The bright minds behind the apps adults know and love haven’t neglected the children’s financial literacy sphere. There are plenty of apps to choose from if you’re ready to start teaching your child about money. Below, we dive into seven fun and effective versions of these apps.
Why Teach Kids About Money in the First Place?
Don’t kids have enough to worry about with grades, friends and what is beginning to seem like a never-ending global pandemic? Sure they do, but there’s plenty of reason to add financial literacy to the list of things your kid—and you, by extension—should care about.
To start, financial literacy appears to set kids up for a lifetime of better financial circumstances. A 2017 study found that disparities in financial literacy may account for as much as 40 percent of the wealth gap between those retiring with more and those retiring with less.
You can bet that better financial circumstances at retirement age meant a better credit score in the decades prior, and research suggests that financial education may lead to improved credit scores. A three-state study funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation in 2015 found that high school students who received strong financial education had credit scores that were around 20 points higher on average.
Meanwhile, only 21 states required a personal finance course for high school students in 2020, according to the Council for Economic Education.
To boil all of that down a bit, financial literacy can make a big, potentially lifelong impact for kids—but there’s no guarantee that they’re going to learn what they need to in school.
What is a busy parent to do? Trying one of these seven financial literacy apps for kids might be a great first step.
RoosterMoney is primarily an allowance app for kids, but it’s particularly handy for teaching kids about saving for short-term and long-term goals. Kids can see how much money they have and how much they will have after certain intervals, and they can place money into digital safes until they reach the financial goals they’ve entered into the app.
The virtual allowance tracking feature of RoosterMoney is free to use, but if you want premium features like chore tracking and interest rates, you’ll have to pay a small annual fee.
- Apple: 4.7
- Google Play: 4.4
2. AdVenture Capitalist
This is a fun and easy game that extends beyond personal finance and dips your kid’s toes into the waters of business and investing. Players begin with nothing more than a lemonade stand, but before long, they’re hiring employees, expanding the business and even courting angel investors.
AdVenture Capitalist is free to download, but before you set your kid loose, be aware that the app comes with some in-app purchases.
- Apple: 4.7
- Google Play: 4.5
3. The Game of Life
The final destination in this digitized version of the classic board game is the yellow tile labeled “Retirement.” That means The Game of Life app is pretty much parallel to the average consumer’s ultimate financial goal—a comfortable retirement.
Of course, there’s plenty of non-financial fun along the way, but it’s hard to miss the foundational financial concepts The Game of Life extends to young players. Designed for tablets, this app costs a few bucks to download.
- Apple: 4.5
- Google Play: 4.2
Personal finance is a jungle for adults, but FamZoo keeps money matters in a more controlled, zoo-like environment for kids. Most appropriate for kids who already have a basic understanding of how allowances work, this app allows you to set up a virtual “family bank” and even give your kids prepaid debit cards.
The app also tracks spending, chores, interest and even parent-paid investing. This one comes with a monthly fee, so add that line item to your own budget if you plan to use it.
- Apple: 4.6
- Google Play: 4.7
5. Verizon Family Money
The Verizon Family Money app is a holistic money management app meant for kids. Parents can set up allowances and give their kids a prepaid debit card. This free app makes it easy to track spending, set spending limits and even freeze cards.
- Apple: 4.5
- Google Play: 4.1
Bankaroo began as a family project in which 10-year-old Dani Gafni wanted a way to track spending money, and mom and dad facilitated the creation of the app. Now, Bankaroo is a financial education tool for families and schools around the world. Parents add funds and set up an allowance, and kids set savings goals, report spending and receive achievement badges. Parents or teachers can keep track via notifications and emails from the app.
Pricing for families involves a one-time download fee, but schools with more than 20 students have to pay a monthly or annual fee.
- Apple: 3.4
- Google Play: 5.0
7. Toshl Finance
Toshl Finance isn’t just for teens, but it’s simple and safe enough to be perfect for use by teenagers who want to learn more about managing their money. The real value of this app is that it provides a central, easy-to-manage location that includes all financial accounts your teen may have—a bank, a credit card, an investment account and even a stash of cash.
Toshl offers a free one-month trial, but after that expires you or your teen should expect to pay a few dollars each month to use the app.
- Apple: 4.7
- Google Play: 4.4
Photo by @criene/Twenty20