By the time children enter high school, their money habits have already been formed (Reuters). As a result, it’s critical to start their financial learning while they’re still young, just as you would want to establish other good habits. There’s no right or wrong way to begin introducing them to financial education, but a thought occurred to me while watching my two young boys: it’s evident how connected–ok, at times obsessed–they are with technology. When I was their age, all I had was a TV and a Speak and Spell.
Kids and technology: don’t fight it
So, I decided to work with their technology addiction, and I did some research about apps and sites that teach children about money… and I was astounded how many were out there! Some integrate lessons about saving and spending into sports or space games, while others are geared toward older children and how to manage their allowances.
The best money websites and apps for kids
Most of these apps and sites are better suited for an older elementary child-high school, but if you are playing with a younger child it is a great opportunity to start discussions about basic financial concepts. Here are ten great app and web resources that I discovered (and had my boys test the websites!) that can help you educate your financial whiz kid:
- P2K Money (free): an app that helps track kids’ allowances by creating a wish list with images and teaching them about budgeting and saving.
- Kids Money (free): an app that lets kids plan for a long-term expense, guiding them through long-term planning and saving–something that I could even use!
- Save! The Game (free): Sponsored by Mass Mutual, it teaches kids about Needs vs. Wants. The app partners with the Time for Kids website and a game called “Right on the Money.” The app also has a 3D interface. The goal of “Save!” is to collect virtual money while avoiding the “wannas!”
- Bank of Mom ($1.99): an app that gives kids a virtual credit line; they can then take “withdrawls” out from “Mom” who controls the bank. The app can track accounts, deposits, withdrawls, tv time, activities, etc.. This app is best suited for older children.
- Allowance: Your Pocket Money ($3.99): An app that let’s kids deposit, withdraw and manage their allowance. As a parent, you can add up to five children within the program, which makes it easy for you to manage their allowances as well!
- Planet Orange (free): An interactive, fun web game for kids grades 1-6; the game takes place in space and teaches the importance of earning, saving, spending and investing.
- Savings Quest (free): A game on the web that allows you to play a character who has to save money by budgeting and spending; teaches you how to save for things you want while paying for what you need.
- Rich Kid Smart Kid (free): This website provides financial lessons and games for kids starring two mice as the main characters; for grades K-12, and divided by grades.
- H.I.P. Pocket Change (free): This is the U.S. Mint’s website for kids. It features games, art activities, and puzzles, as well as a history of the mint.
- PBS Kids Mad Money Game (free): teaches kids about earning, spending, and saving their money, while creating goals along the way.
My youngest is almost four so most of these apps and sites were a bit over his head, but my six-year-old gave them a try. He seemed to enjoy Rich Kid Smart Kid the best because it was broken down by age group, which made the activity a bit easier to understand. All in all, in addition to feeling good about exposing my kids to good financial habits earlier rather than later, I had fun playing along–so sit alongside your child and enjoy!
Jillian Lundberg is a former teacher who is now a full-time stay-at-home mother to two boys, ages 6 and 4.