For countless busy parents, budgeting apps have become an essential life hack and money management tool. But how many parents out there have extended use of such apps to include managing their children's allowance? Or to teach kids valuable budgeting and saving skills?
If you haven't expanded your fin-tech app library to encompass these sorts of tasks, or have just begun contemplating the options, know that there are many reasons why doing so can be a wise choice. As leading financial experts point out, lessons about earning money, budgeting, saving, and spending are an incredibly valuable part of raising self-reliant adults.
"One of the best things you can do for your child's financial future is to start teaching good personal-finance habits at home, and these apps can help fast-track their financial literacy journey," says Colleen McCreary, Credit Karma's chief people officer.
Not only can money management apps step up financial education, but they also offer a way to do so on a platform that many kids are already obsessed with—their electronic devices, Daphne Foreman, consumer banking analyst for Forbes Advisor, tells Parents.
"Capitalizing on how much time our children spend on phones and tablets, these apps give parents the opportunity to instill sound financial habits from an early age," explains Foreman. "In addition to tracking allowances and chores, the right app can teach your kids valuable financial skills like making a budget, saving for a goal or donating to charity."
With these valuable points in mind, here are some of the most noteworthy apps available for parents wanting to dish out allowance and important financial education as well.
FamZoo is one of the most comprehensive allowance apps on the market. It's designed to provide your child with a great deal of practice managing their money, says Jacqueline Gilchrist, founder of the site Mom Money Map.
"You can use FamZoo to schedule allowances and chores and have the payments funnel into savings, giving, and spending accounts to teach kids how to be responsible with money," explains Gilchrist.
The FamZoo app also allows parents to pay their kids by giving them prepaid cards (only available to U.S. families) and create IOUs for money that you're holding for your kids.
"There's also a function to pay your kids interest, which teaches them about compound interest," continues Gilchrist.
This multi-purpose app also allows kids to establish savings goals. And if need be, you can use the appt to charge kids for borrowing money or for shared bills and living expenses such as family cell phone plans.
One last note: The FamZoo app is not free. It costs from $2.50 to $4.33 per month.
RoosterMoney is an allowance app that's simple to use, and it offers a free option for its core functions, which is likely good news for those who shy away from subscription costs.
"With the free version, you can set allowance schedules, track money, set money goals, and split your payments into spend, save, give, and goals accounts," says Gilchrist.
And for very young children, you can even set your kid's currency to stars that can be used for rewards to incentivize good behavior.
In addition to the free version of RoosterMoney, there's a premium or "Plus" version that includes a chore tracker and other features, for $18.99 per year.
"With the plus version, you can link the allowance to chores and have kids earn their allowance or give them extra allowance for chores they complete," says Gilchrist. "The plus version also includes being able to set up an interest rate for increased savings and the ability to charge your kids for regular payments like a Netflix subscription."
For kids who are slightly older, you may want to consider the Step app, which is designed for teenagers, says Scott Henderson, an accredited financial counselor and budgeting expert from Qube Money, a personal finance and budgeting app.
Step provides teens with a free FDIC-insured bank account. There are no monthly, overdraft, ATM, or late fees associated with the account, and as an added bonus, there's no minimum balance required. Using Step, you can send and receive money instantly, and the account comes with a visa card that also has no fees or interest.
"Step enables parents to easily set up a recurring payment for an allowance or send one-time funds for an emergency within seconds," explains Henderson. "Parents can also see their child's account, which gives them opportunities to teach their kids about money."
With Current, parents can set up scheduled, recurring allowance transfers to their kids on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule. The app also offers free instant money transfers, as well as instant spending notifications for parents, and you can even set spending limits or block certain merchants.
Along with all of these useful features, the app allows children to learn how to manage their money, says Henderson.
"Because Current partners with a bank, real money is being transferred to children that they can then spend with a debit card and learn to budget," says Henderson.
For a single monthly family fee, the Greenlight mobile app gives your child a debit card and provides parents with flexible ATM and spending controls, including real-time transaction alerts, says Foreman, of Forbes Advisor. A Greenlight account also includes three accounts in one—spend, save, and give, so you can teach kids valuable lessons about how to allocate money.
On the allowance front, there's a helpful in-app digital chore board, and an allowance "autopilot" or set-it-and-forget-it feature that allows parents to schedule weekly or monthly allowance transfers.
Also noteworthy, with Greenlight, your child can use Apple Pay (if they are 13 or older) and Google Pay (for those 16 and older). Finally, if you don't mind paying a fee, there are upgraded versions of the app—the Greenlight Max and Greenlight + Invest plans. Unlike most of the other apps on this list, these premium Greenlight options offer a brokerage account owned by the parent, but designed for your children to learn about investing, with parents approving every trade.
After setting your child up with a savings and budgeting app, it's a good idea to sit down with them periodically to review how everything's going, answer any questions that may have arisen, and praise them for any progress made.
"Set aside time each week or month, even if it's ten minutes, to check in on their budget and see if they need to readjust," suggests McCreary. "Budgets aren't a one-and-done thing. They are meant to be revisited over time."
If you're worried about adding more screen time to your child's life, perhaps let yourself off the hook, at least this once.
"Any app that can help kids track how they spend and save their money is worth looking into," adds McCreary. "Making a plan for their money, even if it's just a few dollars a week, is a strong first step to building good, lifelong financial habits."