Our Favorite Tools for Teaching Kids About Money

Cheryl Lock
Posted

An Easier Way to Teach Money Lessons to KidsThe great thing about the digital age (or one of the great things) is that you don’t have to be a whiz in any particular subject to teach your kids what they need know.

Math? Educational computer games. Natural sciences? National Geographic online for kids. Mandarin Chinese? You’d be surprised at how many sites can help with that.

Same goes for personal finance: No matter how old your kid is, there’s an app for that.

We scoured the market, both digital and analog, to find a plethora of useful resources that help our kids learn about money— including books, apps and sites.

Our guide starts at age four because younger children probably won’t be ready to learn about money as money. Before age five, it’s more important to teach basic concepts like sharing, counting and how to be patient. For what (and how) to teach kids at all ages, check out our timeline of financial milestones they should reach at each age.

ages4-7

Book: Money Mama & The Three Little Pigs by Lori Mackey
What: A read-aloud book appropriate for kids starting at age four, which teaches concepts like giving, helping others and investing for the future
Why: Introduces the basics of money management and helps kids develop a positive attitude towards money

Video: Sesame Street series “For Me, For You, For Later”
What: A bilingual multimedia program that helps families share experiences and develop basic financial skills
Why: Teaches lessons in value, spending, sharing, saving and more

App: Save! The Game
What:
3D iPhone, iPod touch or iPad game involving a virtual money adventure
Why:
Helps kids learn the difference between needs and wants through a fantasy game

Website: Orange Kids
What:
Interactive site with a fantasy world and “missions” that teach money skills
Why:
Showcases games that teach earning, spending, saving and investing

ages8-9

Book: Show Me The Money by Alvin Hall
What: A colorful book with brief, fun text broken up with captions, sidebars and even entertaining asides like little board games and cartoons
Why: Exposes kids to concepts like bartering, supply and demand and how money works around the world

App: Kids Money
What:
iPhone, iPod touch or iPad app that allows kids to update the amount of money they have, need and want, as well as their money goals and how close they are to meeting them
Why:
Teaches long-term planning and the importance of budgeting for what you want

Website: ThreeJars
What:
A website and Facebook app that helps kids sort allowance money into virtual save, spend and share “jars”
Why:
Puts allowance online so it’s easy for your kids to track it, teaching them responsible money management

Game: Buy it Right by Learning Resources
What:
A board game (also called a “shopping game”) that has fake money to help kids recognize different denominations of coins, make change and buy or sell game items
Why:
This is great way for kids to learn to recognize money, and it brings home the value of a dollar since they have to keep track of how much they have as they proceed in the game

ages10-13

Book: Finance for Kidz series by Dr. Prakash Dheeriya
What: Book with firsthand stories of children experiencing finance in daily life, paired with interactive worksheets and discussion topics
Why: This is a great resource to start your kid thinking about “meatier” finance topics, like opening checking accounts, supply and demand, credit, beginning a business, borrowing and lending, and establishing budgets

Website: It’s My Life, Money
What:
A PBS-funded portal where kids can share their tips, experiences and views on money
Why:
Allows children to leave their own comments on money topics like setting up babysitting jobs, how to spend smartly and how to manage money

Product: Biz in a boxx
What:
Workbook to help kids brainstorm business ideas, padfolio, pen, calculator, calendar, sales/accounting ledger, receipt book, blank business cards and an investor contract for raising “capital,” plus access to the site to share their experiences with other kids
Why:
This package costs about $50, depending which you buy, but we like that it teaches kids entrepreneurship … who knows, it could earn back what you pay for it!

First Things First

The best tool for teaching your kids financial responsibility? Your excellent example. Sign up for the free Take Control Bootcamp to get in financial shape.Sign Up

ages14-15

Book: The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers by Tamsen Butler
What:
A resource for teens that explains how to manage credit, make and stick to a budget, save for college, pay for a car and more topics kids will need as they enter into adulthood
Why: The majority of college kids have credit cards and student loans–so don’t let your child enter into the wide, and often confusing, world without a well-delineated roadmap for everything he’ll need to know

App: Envelopes
What:
iPhone, iPod touch or iPad app that allows users to digitally keep track of spending by category
Why:
This is a simple but elegant app made for adults, which is good because it’s not patronizing for your teen; this is a good way for her to track one-off cash expenditures if she doesn’t have debit or credit to deal with yet

Website: Channel One: Credit Card Simulator
What:
Site that provides a virtual world for your kid to start seeing how credit cards work by going on simulated shopping sprees and suffering the consequences in terms of interest
Why:
In addition to the simulator, this includes quizzes, tips and brings home the ins and outs of managing credit in a tangible way

ages16-18

Book: The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of by David Gardner and Tom Gardner
What:
A book written in clear and understandable language that explains the ins and outs of investing, from the stock market to IRAs to mutual funds. Too many adults are investing-phobic, and we don’t want our teens to fall into the same trap

Website: LearnVest My Money Center
What:
LearnVest’s comprehensive budget calculator and spending tracker
Why:
Once your kid is old enough to manage her own checking and savings account, she needs a good way to track her spending and stay on budget; the tool will grow with her, as she can add credit cards and retirement accounts when she has them, too

Interactive: Sweat Equity Calculator
What: Calculates how long you have to work to afford an item
Why: Point out to your teen that she will have to work 30 hours scooping ice cream to afford those True Religion Jeans, which will certainly put things in perspective

App: SmartyPig
What:
iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad app that tracks savings for specific goals, allows you to transfer funds between goals and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter every time you set money aside for those big plans; you can then cash out with an actual SmartyPig Cash Rewards MasterCard to purchase goods
Why:
With the added bonus of uploading savings to social media, we bet this app will get your kid to his savings goals (whether it’s for college books for a post-high school trip) much faster

 

More Money Help For Kids

Find out the best ways to teach your kid about credit at every age.
Get answers to every allowance question you have.
Not sure if your kid is spoiled? We can help you tell.

  • Lily

    Don’t forget Moonjar for the Young Kids! It was the first and the support material is great. My kids have turned into philanthropists with the help of the moonjar and the books they have.

  • http://www.moneytrail.net Pam at MoneyTrail

    MoneyTrail.net is a free, online allowance & money management system for kids & teens.  Kids & teens track their allowance, cash, IOUs and gift cards.

  • http://www.famzoo.com/ Bill Dwight @FamZoo

    At FamZoo.com we help parents teach their kids good money habits with our online Virtual Family Bank. Awarded Best of Show at Finovate Fall 2011. Hate being self promotional only, so I’ll mention some other alternatives in addition to FamZoo, ThreeJars and MoneyTrail which have been cited above and here in the comments: Zefty, FamilyMint, DoughMain, KidWorth to name just a few more. Shop around and see what fits your family, your values, your situation best. These new online tools really lower the bar for parents to be good, consistent money mentors to their kids.

  • Tamsen Butler

    Thanks for mentioning my book within your list!