The new bank of mum and dad
How young people can manage their own money and be smart about savings.
For grown-ups, our bank balances often feel a little, well... imbalanced. While the adults are figuring out ways to save, the kids seem to be flush, happily thumbing through a stack of pocket money.
If you’re a parent, wondering how to convince your child to do something sensible with their money, or you’re a young person thinking about your next big purchase or your future, there are some great apps to help you keep track of the money and save it or spend sensibly.
“Adults have this perception that kids just want to buy stuff,” says Alick Varma, founder and CEO of the children’s finance app, Osper. “We tested it and found that… contrary to what adults think, one in every two children is saving just for the sake of saving.”
Osper is an app and pre-paid debit card, designed for young people aged eight to 18. Parents create an account, as well as one for their children. The accounts are linked, so while children can set up regular savings and keep track of their spending, mothers and fathers can see where their kids’ money is being spent, set up a regular allowance, load up cash when needed and lock the card if necessary.
Both Varma’s parents were accountants. Growing up, “I had to buy my own clothes, pay for my own travel and my own hobbies,” he recalls. “Very quickly I learnt that if I wanted to survive I would have to budget.” But he soon realised that his experience was somewhat unique. “At university I realised nobody around me had learnt these skills,” he says.
So, the purpose of Osper “is to give children the right financial learning environment, that reflects the real world… That’s the only way we can help them learn basic rules, such as putting money aside from for a rainy day or living with a budget.”
Saving for the future
Osper is far from the only app with its sights on financially educating young people. The children’s finance space is growing. There are pocket money trackers such as iAllowance, RoosterMoney and Pennybox that allow parents to set tasks for their children in order to earn money. And several apps (much like Osper) pair with pre-paid cards, including Nimbl and goHenry.
At goHenry, children's second most popular savings goal in November (Christmas being the first) was “Just to save some money”. That was followed by games, specific birthdays, such as “mum’s birthday” and holidays.
“We try to build a habit of savings,” says cofounder of goHenry, Dean Brauer. “Children can open up a savings goal and we tell them how much they should save each week, based on the date of the goal. Every week we segregate that money from their allowance.”
Focusing on financial education
So why is this so important? What was wrong with a piggy bank?
“How is a person supposed to become financially literate? It’s not being taught in the curriculum,” says Adam Noar, co-founder of Pennybox. His app lets parents and children propose tasks – whether practical or academic – in order for the children to earn money.
“So many parents [we have spoken to] didn’t learn about how to save properly or how to invest or how to think critically about money until their 30s or 40s,” says Noar. “Our goal is to help kids learn about money... Everyone has been overly enthusiastic, saying this is mission critical for their success in life.”
GoHenry’s Brauer can identify with this. “Almost 80% of children in the UK receive regular pocket money. It’s really important that they have a currency to spend in this increasingly digital and cashless society... They need the tools to learn great money habits.”
“With goHenry… they get notifications in real time of what they’ve spent and where and they go from super-spenders to super-savers. They start making choices because they have responsibility over their own money.”
So that's the kids sorted. Now, what about the grown-ups' bank balances?