Instructive apps help teach money smarts
Trying to break in an allowance system with your kids?
There’s a new app for that.
What about teaching your know-it-all college student how to be savvier with his money?
There’s a new app for that too.
With school in full swing, this is the time of year when many parents are looking for new approaches to teach their kids the differences between a want and a need or a debit from a credit. And, as many of us have learned, tossing a how-to book at them rarely cuts it anymore.
There are, however, many fine apps that can help for all stages of teaching about saving and spending.
If the goal is to put your youngster on an allowance, there’s a new application called PennyOwl. The app, available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play, adds to the growing list of money-smart tools such as iAllowance and Famzoo.
PennyOwl aims to “encourage regular saving, develop financial skills and provide a ... store where kids can only buy age-appropriate products within limits set by the parent,” according to PennyOwl’s developer.
Once the app is downloaded, parents can set up accounts for each child, adjust the filters for content and organize a regular allowance transfer. Parents can choose how much money the child can spend and how much to be tucked into savings as well.
One distinctive feature of the app is a store where kids can buy games, books and toys. When your child shops in PennyOwl’s store, you will be notified of any purchases. And if there’s not enough money to cover the purchase, the app will tell your consumer how to save up for it.
For a learning experience geared to older kids, especially millennials, there’s a new free app called Savings Coach. It is available only to members of USAA, the military-based financial services company that’s known for its innovative consumer products.
Savings Coach is described as a “virtual assistant” for banking, and it was designed to motivate users to stash small amounts of money into their savings based on their everyday shopping decisions.
For example, the app allows users to track when they skip the urge to make a purchase — such as forgoing a $5 coffee. It then moves the money they would have spent from their checking account to their savings account.
There’s even a gaming element to Savings Coach, with users being rewarded with points and badges for their smart-money decisions.
Making a game out of paying yourself first may be a bit unorthodox, but it seems to work. During a four-month test of Savings Coach before it was launched this summer, the nearly 800 participants ages 18-24 collectively saved about $120,000, according to USAA, which created the app with Nuance Communications Inc.