Kids are never too young to start learning money management skills and ways to avoid the traps of debt. These days, parents have access to many free or very inexpensive online resources, fun games, and smartphone apps to help in this training process. In this article we go over a few ways you can help kids of all ages learn about money and how to use it wisely.
Websites and free online games to teach kids about money include the following:
PracticalMoneySkills.com offers people of all ages ways to learn the essentials of personal finance via articles, games, and lesson plans. Partnered with Visa, available games include Peter Pig’s Money Counter which is for children aged 4-7 to practice sorting and counting coins (it’s also available as an Android app). Money Metropolis is for ages 7-12 and shows how life decisions can affect the size of their virtual bank account. Financial Football is an NFL-styled game where teens answer financial questions to advance down the field and score touchdowns (also available as an app for the iPhone and iPad). There are other games as well.
Savings Quest is an educational opportunity provided by the Wells Fargo Advisors group. The Savings Quest adventure provides kids with a free interactive experience that teaches about work, paychecks, budgeting, spending, and much more. There is a strong emphasis on budgeting with Savings Quest.
DoughMain.com provides a mobile-friendly suite of family organizer tools. There are also free money-learning games for kids including Sand Dollar City which is an underwater world where kids learn to sink or swim in the financial world. In Sand Dollar City children manage their family’s fictitious candy store and, in the process, learn about earnings, spending, budgeting, credit cards, needs vs. wants, and even retirement planning.
RichKidSmartKid.com is produced by the Rich Dad Company and offers several free online games to increase the financial literacy of future entrepreneurs. The Rich Dad Company also offers their well-known CASHFLOW for Kids board game, the Escape the Rat Race comic book, as well as other books for kids and teens — the Grown Ups page has downloads for parents and resources for teachers to help with children’s financial education goals.
TheMint.org is provided by Northwestern Mutual and provides fun for kids, tips for tweens, pointers for parents, and ideas for teachers. There are interactive challenges for everyone including topics on entrepreneurship, savings, compound interest, debt, credit cards, and more.
Zefty.com is free and offers a “simpler allowances for kids (and parents)” system where families can track and manage their children’s allowance and spending together online. At Zefty money management is taught by example through the interactions of children and their parents together.
Smartphone apps to teach kids about money include the following:
Kids Money is a free iPhone/iPad app for 8-12 year old kids to help teach them about savings and “pocket money” management. Kids enter what they want to buy, how much it costs, and their various sources of “income” into the Kids Money app. Kids Money then colorfully helps them plan how long it will take to save enough money to buy what they want.
Save! The Game was developed by Mass Mutual for Apple devices and highlights the differences between needs and wants. Kids collect money but have to avoid losing it all on “iWannas.” This 3D adventure game is free and focuses on the rewards of savings.
So, bottom line, there is no reason why teaching kids about money has to be boring and difficult. Instead, thanks to these games and apps, it can be exciting and fun!