You can make your smartphone more than just a distraction for your kids when you're traveling or waiting in line. It can actually be a great financial teaching tool.
The following post comes from Dorothy Frank at partner site Ballooning Nest Eggs.
If you’re like me, you can’t afford to buy every little thing your children want, and you tell them to save their allowance for it. These days, there are plenty of calculator and allowance apps to help you get your point across. But we wanted to find some fun game apps that will excite kids about saving and entrepreneurship.
After searching the app world and weeding out the best from the rest, we let our kids test the games for more hours than we probably should’ve. Here are the ones that passed both the parents’ and kids’ play tests with flying colors. Age ranges are our recommendations and would depend on your child’s comfort level with reading and technology…
1. Savings Spree ($2.99, ages 5-plus)
This award-winning app is worth every penny and our team’s favorite. It was approved by all our kids. One of my boys raved about it to another mom and encouraged her to download it for her daughter.
In this game, kids can discover how to earn money at a job, why it’s important to have a rainy day fund, and how to avoid spending on impulse purchases. They can also learn about being entrepreneurs.
Each player gets rewarded or penalized with “dollars,” and the app tracks the balance through each round. The goal is to build the biggest nest egg by the end of the game. It does this with cute graphics and fun activities. It even instills productivity in kids and demonstrates the “time is money” concept – because the more cupcakes they frost in 60 seconds, the more they get paid!
2. Game of Life (99 cents, ages 5-plus)
This is an updated app version of the old board game that I played (and loved) as a kid. My 8-year-old kids tell me it’s still fun.
We loved the graphics and the spinner used to roll for moves. The game helps kids understand the value of good financial decisions, budgeting, and savings. Although the costs of big-ticket items are lower in the game than in reality, it still gave my kids an idea of what college and a house cost – and some of the enormous expenses that they can anticipate in life. You can also try explaining how inflation will cause those life essentials to cost significantly more in 10 years.
3. Bee Farming (99 cents, ages 10-plus)
This game fosters entrepreneurship and skills like managing money and a business successfully. Basically, the player starts a bee farming business with only three swarms of bees and $100 cash.
You have to gather the nectar to produce honey and sell it in the BEEDEX honey market. Then you go to the Farmer’s Co-op to purchase bees and other supplies. There’s only 10 weeks to run the business, and if it earns more than $500,000, it makes the Farmer’s World Records. As part of the game, your child allocates money and resources to afford supplies – and watches the market prices to know when to sell the honey for maximum profits.
The graphics are beautiful, but it’s important to read the instructions first, because there’s a lot to keep track of. This can be a complicated game for younger kids, so I’d recommend it for kids aged 10 and up. But once you get the hang of it, it’s fun.
4. Snoopy’s Street Fair (free, ages 7-plus)
The app is free, but it costs money to purchase specific in-app features. The game inspires entrepreneurship and budgeting by helping Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang build and organize a street fair to raise money for baseball uniforms.
Depending on the level of the game and how much money your children earn, they can purchase additional stalls, attractions, and decorations. Players decide if something is worth investing in, and they can also participate in Snoopy’s mini-games to earn extra points and fulfill some of the requirements on the “To Do” list. Although it lacks instructions, our kids figured it out and didn’t want to stop playing. My 8-year-old son reached Level 8 and has built a successful enterprise – while I’m stuck on Level 4.
If you’re looking for a simple app that can help your child track his or her savings toward a goal, we recommend these. We haven’t included age ranges because, in all likelihood, the parent will be inputting the information…
- Kids Money (free) – This is a simple savings calculator toward a goal. Slide the lever to set the goal and the weekly income (allowance) and it tracks how many weeks it will take for your child to achieve the goal. Note: It’s very difficult to set the levers at exact numbers.
- Allowance ($3.99) – This is a simple allowance and savings tracker. It’s easy to input the weekly allowance and then it tracks the total savings and expenditures. This app has a feature that reminds busy moms to pay allowance. It also gives a fun fact or advice.
- P2K Money (free) – What makes this allowance and savings tracker special is it has a budget feature.
Have your own favorite educational app for kids? Tell us about it!