Few teenagers are fully prepared to handle the basics of money management as they enter adulthood. A shocking 60 percent of American teenagers don’t have the financial literacy skills to make a monthly budget and track spending. However, one in three high school seniors and over one in two college freshman have credit cards. Put these two stats together, and it could be a recipe for disaster.
Teenagers have the means and ability to spend, but not to plan, save, and budget. This can lead to debt and bad credit at an early age which could spell a lifetime of financial instability and insecurity.
To educate this age group, apps and new technology resonate best. Financial literacy can be a dull subject to teach. However, mobile apps are endlessly appealing. Teenagers won’t be tracking their expenses on a checking ledger anymore. Instead, they can turn to apps and digital technology. A natural fit.
The key to money management for teenagers is early education and establishing good habits that will stick throughout adulthood. As parents, friends, siblings, or even peers of this generation, it’s important to equip teens with a strong foundation of financial literacy. Luckily, there are many apps and programs to help along the way.
Depending on which financial institution the family is with, many banks offers free apps to go along with checking and savings accounts. The apps can track and manage spending, check up on account balances (in real-time), find local ATMs to avoid withdrawal fees, and deposit checks. For teens trying to manage their spending and saving habits as they navigate first jobs and first accounts, banks are making it easy to do so. Another great feature of bank apps, there are easy bill pay options and even the chance to create an automatic payment schedule. Teenagers responsible for their cell phone bills can make sure they’re not late on those payments. Bank apps are safe, designed for convenience, and give teens the opportunity to stay on top of their money.
Spendee is an app that connects to a bank account and lets the user know exactly where their money is going each month in an easy-to-read graph. A Spendee account can be linked with family or friends to be held accountable too. It’s not just for tracking; it gives an in-depth analysis. So, at the end of the month, if 80 percent of a teens income or allowance is on snacks at their school’s vending machine, it’s a clear indication that there are better things the money could be spent on.
The free Mint app has been highlighted before on FamilyTech. It’s a great money manager with many capabilities than even teenagers can take advantage of. It helps them link their accounts, any bills they might be responsible for, and even investments that family has made for them bringing it all into one place. It eliminates the need to log into multiple websites, and the best part, the app can track and pay bills so payments are never missed or late fees accrued.
Khan Academy, Bank of America Better Money Habits Online Program
Khan Academy partnered with Bank of America to create free educational content that covers topics like, “How to get out of debt,” and, “Understanding how mortgage interest rates work.” It’s a millennial-focused website that curates topics relevant for the demographic, and while teenagers these days technically don’t fall into the millennial category, the ones about to enter adulthood could truly benefit from the videos and learn-at-your-own-pace program it offers. Better Money Habits combines the knowledge from Bank of America with the visual learning methodology and tools of Khan Academy. All teens have to do is watch, internalize, and go conquer the financial world.
Diana Aquino is a Marketing and Project Management professional with extensive experience in mobile, app analytics, and marketing strategy. She’s worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, helping apps reach top ranks. You can reach her on Twitter, or connect with her on Linkedin.