Top Games and Apps That Will Help Your Kid Learn About Money

This might come as a surprise, but most of the money nerds I know did not grow up in families where money lessons were prudently taught while going to the supermarket. Nor did our parents sit us down to show us how to balance a checkbook, or to explain how interest fees on a credit card work. We grew up learning about money by figuring things out as we go, and making mistakes along the way.

And while it’s obvious why it’s important to teach kids about money at an early age — financially literate kids become money-savvy adults, and the stakes are low when you make blunders when you’re young — financial literacy has yet to make its way into our education system’s curriculum.

Since financial literacy still isn’t taught in schools, we need to look toward other resources and programs to teach our kids about money. Here are a handful of apps and games that I wish existed when I was a kid:

 

Cash Crunch Junior

This series of games for kids was created by Paul Vasey, who was a financial educator himself. Cash Crunch Junior  is a board game for kids ages 5 to 12, and teaches important financial concepts such as needs versus wants and opportunity costs. Kids also learn basic math skills such as adding and subtracting, budgeting, and the value of saving. It’s far more fun to learn about money when you’re in a team setting and interacting with others.

Cost: $35

 

Savings Spree

A winner of several awards, Savings Spree is a financial literacy app that helps kids learn how their daily, short-term decisions can lead to long-term benefits. The premise is simple: kids can choose to either save or spend their money. Players have the option to either do the following with their money: save for short-term wish list items, such as a bike; spend more wisely; donate their beans; or invest it.

With this app, kids can learn valuable lessons using virtual money. If they make a regrettable choice, they aren’t risking any real cash. Despite the fun factor, kids can learn money basics, appreciate the importance of making wise decisions in the here and now, and develop a positive relationship with their money.

Cost: $5.99

 

Renegade Buggies

Created by the National Center for Families Learning, which is a non-profit whose mission is to eradicate poverty through education, and sponsored by Dollar General, Renegade Buddies is a fun game designed to teach kids how to save money.

Its premise is as follows: You zip around the city on a buggy, grabbing items along the way. You’re also tasked with collecting coupons and coins. The objective? To get the best deal on products in your shopping cart. When trying to shop for the best deal, you’ll have to factor in your coupons and the value of each item against the price.

Cost: Free

 

Buy It Right

Kids naturally want to mimic the grownups around them. How often have you seen a child push a mini shopping cart around a market, dropping items into it? Buy It Right gives young ones the satisfaction of making a purchase and teaches them money basics. Replete with a handy calculator and play money, players can set prices on items, buy and sell, and learn how to best use and value money.

Cost: $29.99

 

FamZoo

A highly rated and reviewed platform that’s designed for kids of all ages, FamZoo has two major features: prepaid cards, and a robust family finance app. Parents can assign chores and tasks to their kids, and designate rewards. Kids, in turn, can set up different saving accounts based on goals and what’s important to them. Kids can also split up their earnings. A further incentive to save for the kids? Parents can decide to boost savings by paying an “interest rate.”

With the prepaid card, parents control the accounts and decide on the money rules. Family members can move money among the accounts, and set up alerts. You can also track and reimburse family members for expenses.

Cost: $5.99 a month. (If you opt to pre-pay, it’s $30 a year.)

 

iAllowance

If you’d like a simpler app that focuses on chores and rewards, you might want to check out iAllowance. An App Store favorite, it assigns chores to kids and sets payments to allowances on autopay. Kids can also earn rewards that you set up, such as an ice cream treat, a special trip to the arcade, or an extra hour playing video games.

Cost: $2.99

 

Pay Day

A board game classic, both kids and parents can play this game in which players earn income, pay their bills, and make deals on property. All players are given the same amount of money when they begin. Players can also take out a small loan, which they must pay back.

Each round is pretty quick — about 15 minutes or so — so this could easily be played during the busy school week. While Pay Day was created back in the ‘70s, and there have been several updated versions, this throwback game can still teach kids what really goes into being a grown up and earning a paycheck.

Cost: $18.99

 

There’s no better time to teach your kids financial literacy than now. With the slew of resources available for youth these days, including apps and games, it’s easier than ever for parents to help their kids learn basic money management skills.

The post Top Games and Apps That Will Help Your Kid Learn About Money appeared first on MintLife Blog.

How to Create an Amazing Life on a Single Mom Budget

When Christina Rodriguez divorced four years ago, she had no idea how she was going to make ends meet. After all, during her marriage, she earned $38,000 per year as a visual designer, and even with her husband’s income, the couple lived paycheck-to-paycheck and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Rodriguez’s share of credit card debt was $10,000. 

“Here I was struggling with two incomes, and now I was on one income,” says the 35-year-old mom of two. “It was scary.” 

Like so many people, Rodriguez stayed awake at night, worried what she might do should she need to replace her car, especially if her credit were poor because of her debt burden. She spent her energy juggling bills and minimum credit card payments, barely staying afloat.  

“I realized, ‘I can’t live like this. My children don’t deserve to live their life like this’,” Rodriguez says. “It was about figuring out how I could get to a place where I would truly feel free.” 

Fast-forward four short years, and Rodriguez is debt-free, invested $22,000 in a home purchase and remodel, counts $7,000 in cash savings, and has increased her annual income from $38,000 to $128,000. 

Themes of Rodriguez’s success story: 

  • Cut back all extra expenses and focus on paying off debt. At the time of her breakup, Rodriguez had $10,000 in credit card debt. She also had a new, tricked out Chevy Malibu and regularly got her hair and nails done. “That was a huge part of my identity,” she says. “But it wasn’t more important than my kids having food on the table.” 
  • Think big! You can only cut so many costs, but your income potential is infinite. “I realized I was taking on jobs that paid $300 or $400. Why wasn’t I taking on jobs that paid $3,000 or $4,000?” she says. “When I realized my time and skills are valuable — that is when everything changed for me.” 
  • Put a dollar value on your time. Rodriguez’s income ballooned when she stopped taking low-paid side gigs, and started investing without guilt in child care and housekeeping.  
  • Splurge on experiences, not possessions. Christina could easily afford to upgrade her Nissan Rogue, but chooses instead to travel with her kids. “My daughter says: ‘More meetings means more vacations!’” Rodriguez says.  
  • Focus on setting up a life within her control. Rodriguez’s worries included rent increases, job instability, financial instability, depending on her kids’ dad, and a long commute which took her away from her children during the week. “I realized that the kids could only depend on me,” she says. Her focus on home ownership, high earning and self-employed income and a job close to home helped her regain power.  

At the time, her budget breakdown was: 

  • Rent $825 
  • Car payment $450 
  • Car insurance $155 
  • Electric $130 
  • Internet $65 
  • Phone $125 
  • Childcare $250 (her half) 
  • Plus food, gas, entertainment etc 
  • Credit card minimum payments $125  
  • Nails and hair $75  
  • Subscription services $8 
  • Cable TV $149 monthly 
  • Private school tuition $480 monthly 

Upon her divorce, Rodriguez cut her cable, subscription services, nails and hair, and downgraded to less expensive car.  

She then focused on both paying off debt and earning. Rodriguez got a new job where she earned $45,000 per year, and also built up her side business doing freelance graphic design work, carefully selecting jobs that paid a high hourly fee, and helped her reach her goals. “I only work side jobs that meet a specific goal financial goal, because if I was going to dedicate time away from my kids it has to be with purpose,” she says. 

A couple years ago, Rodriguez saved up $15,000, quit her full-time job, and focused narrowly on building her design portfolio. Then, a local health care company near her Kissemmee, Fla., reached out via LinkedIn, and offered her a new job. Today, Rodriguez earns $77,000 salary, plus an annual bonus of $5,000, and last year her side business grossed $46,000, bringing her income to $128,000.   

One of the biggest changes Rodriguez made with her new financial status is buying a 2,300-square-foot home in a gated community. She also purchased a 20-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy, and focuses on travel. She is looking forward to a trip to Paris soon, and she and her grade-school-aged son and daughter are 5 states into their goal of visiting all 50 before the kids graduate.  

Rodriguez also hires a housekeeper twice per month — without any guilt at all.  

Today, Rodriguez’s budget: 

  • Mortgage, taxes and insurance $1471 
  • HOA $216 
  • Car payment $311 
  • Car insurance $155 
  • Electric $100 
  • Water $49 
  • Internet and cable $125 
  • Phone $120 
  • Disney annual passes $138 
  • Childcare $340 
  • Life insurance $38 
  • Cleaning service $140 

Says Rodriguez: “I’m still really frugal. But living a budgeted life works for me. I know where every penny goes and that allows for more opportunities, to make more memories. It also allows me to spend without buyer’s remorse. I think the best feeling though comes from teaching my kids about smart financial decisions like my parents did with me.”

The post How to Create an Amazing Life on a Single Mom Budget appeared first on MintLife Blog.