Teaching Financial Literacy Through Technology

We’ve all made mistakes when it comes to money. It might be the big purchase that you regret or the credit card you let get out of control. Maybe you live paycheck to paycheck and are stressed out about how to start to build your savings. Or maybe your financial mistakes are in the past and you’re ready to pass on the lessons you’ve learned to your kids.

Whether or not you’re actively teaching financial literacy, the way that you handle money has a direct effect on your children. They might not see your bank account but they see what you buy and prioritize and how you talk about money. These are lasting lessons that greatly inform how they decide to treat money.

When you learned about keeping track of your money with your first bank account, you probably received a paper checkbook and learned how to write checks and keep things balanced. The chances that our kids ever do that are slim, and online and mobile banking are here to stay.

The good news is that technology is more helpful than ever when it comes to managing money and teaching the next generation about how to make good decisions with their cash.

A great example of tech intersecting with financial education is the app FamZoo. Created in 2006, FamZoo Founder and CEO Bill Dwight describes his inspiration for the app.

I wanted to prevent my kids from dipping into their siblings’ stashes, so creating a place where they could keep their money safe was a way to teach them a fundamental concept of banking.

With FamZoo, families can either use an IOU account, where the program keeps track of money that parents hold for their children. Or, a prepaid card account, that offers reloadable prepaid MasterCards.

Giving kids an allowance for work around the house is a great way to push positive reinforcement, but if you’re handing a $10 bill over to your 11-year-old, it’s hard to know where it actually ends up. And it teaches them next to nothing about how to manage their newfound wealth. FamZoo lets the parents act as bank managers, while kids have access to make withdrawals with Mom or Dad’s permission. When your kids are older, you can opt for the prepaid card version of FamZoo, and they have a card on them to spend on whatever, provided the money is in the account.

Kids should also be learning about finances in school, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like that’s much of a priority in today’s schools.

A great option for kids in the classroom is the PwC Charitable Foundation website. They provide a sign-in for parents or kids with three different levels of education. This is a great resource for teachers who are interested in teaching financial literacy in their classrooms. Students can learn about personal finance by working through modules designed to help them plan for the future and make smart decisions about their money. As they move on to high school, students learn more about life after graduation with topics like budgeting and how to avoid the pitfalls of credit cards.

And don’t forget, apps and educational websites can’t do all the work themselves. Parents and teachers must play a vital role in the education process as well as the day to day. The technology is a huge asset to the case but without the involvement of adults, the success rate goes down dramatically.


Photo credit: stevendepolo via Foter.com / CC BY



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Joe Long