8 Apps that teach your kids about money

An app that teaches kids about money and encourages them to do chores was bound to catch my attention. This week Standard Bank launched a smartphone and tablet game-like animated banking app for children called the Standard Bank Kidz Banking App. I think it’s a great idea – I love anything that helps to teach kids about money and if it encourages them to tidy their room then I’m even more for it.

Personal finance is a subject that is not exclusively taught at school. Children may get taught about budgets, loans and banking in a life orientation class or perhaps even a fraction of that may be relayed in business economics. Can you remember who taught you about money? Was it your parents? Your neighbour? A friend? Your bank manager? Or did you teach yourself, while making poor and tactical financial decisions long the way?

In a child’s world smartphones and tablets are as precious as sweets and chocolates. And while there may be some games that you’ve downloaded that you may not consider educational, the beauty about these apps is that you can encourage your offspring to engage their brains while keeping it fun within a few finger taps.

The words ‘personal finance’ may have your kids’ eyes glaze over so if they don’t listen to you perhaps they will pay more attention with the help of technology. Here’s a little more about the Standard Bank app and others that can help teach your brood about the art of saving and budgeting. Most of these apps deal in US dollars but I’m sure our children will get the general idea:

1.The Standard Bank Kidz App
Available initially only to Android users, the app is designed primarily for kids between the ages of 6 and 11, and is essentially a tool designed to engage and entertain children while enabling parents to explain concepts of money management such as earning, saving, and spending.

The app is set in an animated fantasy realm where colourful digital representations of South Africa’s Big Five animals maintain habitats each representing a different area of money management. What really got me excited is that there’s an energetic leopard that encourages kids to complete “missions”, or chores, assigned by parents – things like tidying their rooms or watering the plants – in order to earn money. Parents can simply pay money into the app once the allocated tasks are completed. Hurrah! Standard Bank have thought this one through!

And as the money is spent, debits are noted and the balance in the account is recorded, teaching your little darling to budget. It’s available in app stores for Android users, for smartphones and tablets. An Apple version will follow in the coming month.

2. Spending Spree
If you’re not a Standard Bank customer never fear – there’s lots of other choices out there. Take Spending Spree for example: it’s fun, but it also teaches your child about money and about the choices we typically make with our finances. So there are lessons about the common ways in which people lose money, particularly when they waste it. You do pay for it though and it costs $5.99, which in Rands translates to R81.75*. But if it teaches your kids about good and bad debt then I think its money well spent.

This is a virtual piggy bank that allows you to manage your child’s allowances. It’s particularly handy if you don’t have money to hand as the app serves as a digital IOU. If you owe your child money they can send you push notifications to remind you of it (and I’m sure they won’t forget) and once they’re happy to cash out you can then draw the money out of your bank account or show them that you’ve made an EFT into their account. It’s ideal for kids aged 6 and over.

If your kids are into dinosaurs which, let’s face it, 90% of them are by the age of three then this could be the right money app for you. According to Commonsensemedia’s website it’s easy to use, addictive and the bonus is that the purchase price of $1.99 (R27.16) includes everything so you don’t need to worry about in-app purchases. Kids get to collect dinosaur stickers which unlocks more options and as they progress through the game they will be able to purchase different features, attractions and dinosaurs in the park. Ideal for children aged 7 and up.

5.Green$treets – Unleash the Loot
Want to teach your kids, aged 5-8, about being more responsible about their environment and money? Then this app is for you. Your child will rescue endangered animals and earn money by planting a garden, or catapulting items into the tree house and keeping Shmootz a gooey, messy monster from ruining all the fun. When the animals are rescued they need to be taken care of until they are ready to go home. While engaging in the fun children get to set goals, budget, earn money, give to charity and make decisions about when to save and spend. Best of all this game is free.

6.Renegade Buggies
This is an endless runner game where kids get to ride through an urban terrain on a supercharged shopping trolley. The aim is to grab items from a shopping list and collect coins and coupons every chance you get. While shopping is part of the game the aim is actually to save money while making purchases.  It will teach kids to be savvy consumers by letting them compare unit sizes, buy in bulk, use coupons and take advantage of specials as they shop. It’s free and recommended for children aged 6-11.

7.Motion math: Cupcake
Let your kids embrace their inner entrepreneur with this app that lets them manage a cupcake delivery business. They solve word problems, calculate proportions, buy ingredients, design cupcakes, set prices and deliver to customers (people and animals). Appropriate for children aged 8 and up. Costs $5.99 (R81.75).

8.Celebrity calamity
People get famous for their ability to sing, act or dance but they may not be good with money. Here’s where your child can act as a celebrity’s financial consultant. In three mini games they get to choose which gigs to book and which to decline, take care of the shopping, and help their celebrity recover from the shock when they are slapped with the bill. It’s free and recommended for children aged 6 and up.

Of course a bit of scepticism needs to be retained here. Standard Bank and its rivals, once they get in on the act, and anybody else who develops an app aimed at children are bound to include a sales pitch somewhere along the line. This is not illegal so make sure that whichever game you choose that it’s one where you can curb the in app costs, as well as any associated data costs.

*Currency conversions correct as at 28 September 2016.

The landscape of the Standard Bank Kidz app
The Standard Bank Kidz app has an energetic leopard that encourages your kids to do chores to earn money!

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