October 29th, 2012
It’s never too early to start talking dollars and sense with your kids. Parents who hope to raise financially responsible kids now realize that this is something they need to begin teaching them at an early age. Marketers are spending millions of dollars on advertising and promotions to reach kids at ever younger ages, the best way for kids to learn requires hands-on practice to help them get comfortable with money matters earlier so they can learn to make better financial decisions later.
A good start for parents is to offer their kids an allowance to help them learn the relationship between work and money. Kids need to make some financial mistakes in order to understand the consequences. Once they learn to save and spend their own money, they’ll have a much better chance of growing into financially responsible and socially compassionate adults.
Fortunately, there are quite a few online tools aimed to help kids learn money management. These websites are virtual banks with built-in online allowance tracking systems. Some of them offer an incentive or bonus system and encourage charitable contributions. The following list includes the 7 sites we liked, and their distinguishing features.
ThreeJars makes money management fun and easy for 5 to 13-year-old kids and their parents. Kids learn to manage “money” through three symbolic jars – one each for saving, spending, and charitable giving – with guidance from Mom and Dad. Kids save money as IOUs in the online jars and their parents are the bank. This site began in 2008, and a new online shopping module is planned.
PlayMoolah was created in 2011, and the basic version is free. It’s a fun online platform for kids aged 6 to 11 to earn, save, and manage an allowance. A paid membership is required for access to more advanced features.
Zefty is a free ad-supported no-frills site. Although it functions like a bank account, there’s no real money involved. The Zefty check function allows kids to print out a check and hand it to their parents for payment of cash, but only up to the virtual amount they have accumulated in their account. They can use another module, ZeftyCalc, to see how long they will have to save for specific items they may want to purchase. The URLs on Zefty are http rather than https so the account details are not secure, but very little information is stored on the site, and none of it is financial.
Bankeroo was created by an 11-year old and her dad; and although I was impressed with the origin of the site, it lacked the ability for kids to divide their allowance into spending, savings, charity and other accounts. However, in addition to allowance it does include goals, mobile access, and badges for activity on the site.
MoneyTrail is a free online money management system for families of teens. The site runs on computers as well as iPhones, Blackberry and Android phones, the Kindle Fire, the Nook and the Nintendo DSi. MoneyTrail helps teens learn to organize their cash, credit (IOUs), gift cards and checks. The site doesn’t actually handle any money, it just keeps track of it. With a few easy clicks on any of the supported devices, parents can find out how much allowance is due or how much money their child has collected.
KashPile requires that an adult create the account, logging in directly or through Facebook, and sends an activation link to their email. Here parents can manage virtual allowances, chores and budgets. Kids log in to check off chores, manage goals and shop on a mall powered by Amazon, and parents approve and complete all purchases. Additionally, KashPile can send birthday reminders to approved friends & family, allowing them to contribute funds directly toward a child’s goals via PayPal. The site itself does not manage any real money.
KidsCash is a secure money management suite for children to learn the skills of saving and spending wisely. They can set goals and select products from a safe online marketplace of their own, based on the allowance deposited. On this site, parents deposit real money in an account, putting kids in charge of their own bank. Parents can filter purchases, monitor spending, and more, with just a few clicks. The site’s Easy Lane monitoring system builds trust for a responsible spender; choosing Red requires approval before your child is allowed to purchase and choosing Green allows the child to make purchases freely, with alerts to parents after the purchase is completed.
A few other free websites worth mentioning are these:
- The Mint – quizzes and games for kids and tweens, tips and ideas for parents and teachers
- PBS Kids It’s My Life – money topics for tweens
- Disney Great Piggy Bank Adventure – an online board game to help teach financial literacy to kids
Virtual bank sites provide a platform where parents work together with their children to teach them basic money management skills. No matter which site you choose, this effort will promote financial responsibility and teach kids how to save and spend wisely, while giving families real opportunities to communicate about money.
Entry Filed under: Shopping