Teaching kids about saving money isn’t easy, especially younger kids who can’t add up all those nickels and dimes clanging around in their piggy banks. Let’s face it — that lofty goal of saving for a rainbow sparkle unicorn is difficult for the same impatient child who can’t wait two seconds for a scoop of ice cream. Kids are the epitome of instant gratification.
That’s why I was thrilled to be asked by @TDLab to help with their new Family Allowance app. Designed to teach kids about saving money, it allows kids or parents to set up savings goals (say, for that rainbow sparkle unicorn that will take more than a week’s allowance to save for). Their logic: who better to design an app for families than parents?
Okay, so back to the rainbow sparkle unicorn savings goal. All you need to do to set that up is enter the cost of the aforementioned rainbow sparkle unicorn and the app automatically tracks your savings, showing how much more you have to go to reach your goal with a nice, big visual chart (perfect for little ones who aren’t quite there in terms of measuring progress numerically).
So every week, their savings gets automatically updated with whatever weekly allowance you set up allowing kids to see how saving their money steps them closer and closer to their goal of owning a rainbow sparkle unicorn of their very own (don’t worry…it’s just play money and no real banking transactions happen). Kids can also make virtual deposits to track money that they receive as gifts from parents or grandparents.
As a parent of an impatient child who would fritter her money away on candy and silly toys from the dollar store (if I let her), I appreciated the goal setting and the visual display as a tool for teaching kids about saving money, but I also wanted to use the app as a way of facilitating her actual allowance by setting reminders for the tasks she is expected to complete in order to receive her weekly funds.
So I asked TD Lab if they could include a list of chores to be assigned to individual children and another one for one-time jobs that were available to kids on a first come, first served basis (for those of us who would like to be able to bribe their children with money to get them to do extra jobs around the house). AND THEY LISTENED (5 gold stars and a rainbow sparkle unicorn to you, TD Labs)!
Less than a month later, they rolled out the chore module that includes a pre-set list of chores parents could either assign to a particular child or enter as an up-for-grabs task that anyone could do to earn extra money. For jobs that kids are expected to do on a regular basis, like tidying their rooms, parents can set them up as a weekly chores. The app also allows you to enter one-time job assignments, and create custom chores.
Kids can now keep track of their regular chores (hopefully without any additional nagging from parents) and if they are really motivated to save money fast, they can tackle extra jobs that have a monetary value attached to them and watch their savings grow. This is my favourite feature because it teaches kids that work translates to money so if they want more of it, they need to do more.
How to Use the Family Allowance App to Encourage Your Kids to Save Money
1: Sit down and set concrete savings goals — Start with something small enough that they can get there in a short period of time and work up to bigger savings goals from there. The countdown to your goal and visual display will help keep kids motivated and on track.
2: Make a weekly allowance a habit — Don’t fall out of the weekly allowance habit (something we are all guilty of when things get busy and kids whine and groan about doing their weekly chores). Once you set up your weekly chore assignments, get in the habit of adding special tasks to allow kids to earn extra money.
3: Add special gifts into the savings tracker — Help boost the savings by adding gift money from family members into the savings tracker. Seeing how quickly their savings grows when they consistently do their chores and contribute extra money to their account will teach them invaluable life skills.
4: Get that money into a bank account — Set up a child’s savings account, but don’t just do it all for them. Take them through the process of visiting the bank, depositing money and checking their account balance.
Awesome, right? Well, here’s the fun part! TD Lab is continuing to develop the app and would love more feedback from parents. All you have to do is download the app, play with it and shake the device to activate the feedback survey.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by TD Canada, but, as always, opinions are my own.