Editorial note: We earn commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not influence the opinions or ratings of our editors.
Teaching children about money can prepare them for a solid financial future. But most of this teaching has to start at home.
Experts have long encouraged parents to give positive examples of financial behavior. But before showing children how to open a bank account or how a credit card works, teaching them the how and why of basic financial principles is a necessary foundation.
For some parents, this can be a challenge. It can be difficult to know the best way to discuss money-related topics, including how to adapt them according to age. These online apps and resources can be an effective way to get started.
5 resources to help teach children about personal finances
Recommended age range: 10-25 years
Zogo is an app that works with credit unions to offer an easy and fun approach to financial literacy for Generation Z users and was created in collaboration with behavioral science researchers. The app offers over 300 modules that users can follow at their own pace covering topics such as wealth creation, investing, credit scores, and mortgages. Each time a user completes a form, they earn virtual points which can later be redeemed for checking account bonuses or gift cards at places like Starbucks and Amazon.
2. BizKid $
Recommended age range: Middle and high schools
BizKid $ is an Emmy Award-winning PBS series created by the producers of Bill Nye the Science Guy and premiered in 2008. Today, the show has an additional online resource that combines financial concept videos with games to help teach to the children the money.
Financial topics are broken down into separate videos where kids discuss real-life topics, such as setting a financial goal for buying a car before the age of 18. The videos are accompanied by resume sheets (also available in Spanish) that include family activities such as how to break down a specific savings goal and guide your child through creating a savings plan.
Some study sheets also include activities for parents, such as opening a custodial account for your child so they can save money in a real institution.
3. Federal Reserve Bank of New York comics
Recommended age range: Middle and high schools
Monetary policy affects our finances, whether we realize it or not. When the Federal Reserve raises or lowers interest rates, we all feel it in one way or another, whether through more expensive loans or better savings incentives. Explaining this to children can be difficult, but the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a creative solution: comics.
These free comics on various economic cornerstones can be downloaded online or received in the mail (also free, but can take four to six weeks to deliver). The comics cover topics such as explaining what an economy is, the concepts of interest, saving and budgeting, as well as the role played by the Federal Reserve in keeping the financial system safe and sound.
Most of the comics available are also available in Spanish and have options tailored for middle and high school students.
4. Money with Mak and G
Recommended age range: Pre-adolescents and adolescents
If your child likes listening to audiobooks, consider listening to Money with Mak and G together. This podcast features 13-year-old twins, Mak and G, and their father, Ben Jones, who is a certified public accountant and certified financial planner. They discuss easy and complex financial issues, ranging from sanctions on Russia to starting a budget. Advanced financial terminology is used throughout the episodes, so this podcast is best suited for middle and high school students.
Mak & G’s episodes range from four to 14 minutes, making them a great option to listen to while having breakfast or in the car on the way to school.
5. Green light
Recommended age range: Every age
Cost: Greenlight ($ 4.99 per month), Greenlight + Invest ($ 7.98 per month) and Greenlight Max ($ 9.98 per month).
After children are familiar with basic financial principles, it is best to let them try it out in real life scenarios. Opening an account with Greenlight can be a great way to get started.
Greenlight is a debit card and Mastercard app designed for children, teens and parents. The card works like a regular checking account (FDIC insured up to $ 250,000) and is tied to a parent’s account, so a parent can instantly transfer money to their child’s account. The account offers up to 2% interest on savings and parents can add additional interest payments via direct wire. Parents can set spending limits by category and store, and kids can even purchase fractional stocks and ETFs (with parental approval) without trading fees.
In addition to being just a debit card, the Greenlight app includes educational content to teach children the concepts as they are making them, including investments and savings.
Greenlight comes with various benefits, but it’s free for the first month only. Next, users can choose from three tiers of plans: Greenlight ($ 4.99 per month), Greenlight + Invest ($ 7.98 per month), and Greenlight Max ($ 9.98 per month). The highest tier offers a 1% refund on purchases.
What are the best ways to teach children about money?
There are endless apps and online resources available to teach kids about money. But figuring out which ones are worth your time (and in some cases your money) can be difficult.
Bethany Rittle-Johnson, professor and chair of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University, says apps or games that only explore topics won’t do much in teaching children the principles of long-term money.
“A little exploration is useful, but we need it to be guided and structured with goals and feedback in mind,” says Rittle-Johnson. “These tools should be carefully designed so that children don’t get lost and don’t learn from them.”
TV shows can also be effective teaching tools, says Rittle-Johnson. But parents should keep in mind that there should be some kind of application of the methods explained in these resources, such as children having to create their own savings plan at home after watching.
Games are effective too, but the most effective are created with collaborating researchers and designers to ensure they are not only fun, but are designed to help children fully understand the concepts, adds Rittle-Johnson.
What if you’re still undecided on the best resources to use? There is evidence that parents’ financial decisions play an important role in their children’s financial behaviors.
If you are not comfortable using outside resources to engage in discussions about money with your children, setting a positive example of interactions with money, such as using credit responsibly or creating savings goals, can set them up for success. For all life.