With all the talk of our nation’s financial future, it only makes sense for parents to start teaching their kids about money management as early as possible. Unfortunately, times have changed from the days when all that took was a small weekly allowance and a piggy bank.
Your child will need to understand electronic banking, compound interest, and the importance of being debt-free if they’re going to make it financially in tomorrow’s world. So, how do you go about explaining these things in a way they’ll understand? Thanks to the Internet, the perfect teaching tools for your kids are only a mouse click away.
To make your job easier, I’ve scoured the web, and come up with the five best sites to teach your kids about money and finances.
Best Finance Sites For Kids
1. Planet Orange
This fun, interactive website sponsored by ING Direct teaches kids in grades first through sixth the basics of earning, spending, saving, and investing money. Kids start by creating a character astronaut who is assigned a mission that revolves around money. They then design their own spaceship and begin their mission.
Why It’s Great: Whether it’s earning, saving, spending or even building a portfolio and investing, kids will learn the basics of money and how to use it. You have to sign up to use Planet Orange, but the program is free.
2. Zefty Virtual Bank Account
This is an online virtual bank account for kids that teaches them how the world of banking operates. It begins with a virtual deposit, such as an allowance. Then kids can use that money to make banking transactions.
The idea is that the parents hold the money, and every time a transaction is made, it’s entered into the Zefty account so the kids can see how a real bank account works. It comes with features such as virtual automatic deposits for allowances, and even allows kids to print out checks to give to their parents to redeem (after the deduction has been made from their Zefty account, of course).
Why It’s Great: The site gives real-world, money managing experience in a safe, virtual environment. It even provides nifty tools like an allowance calculator for parents, and the ZeftyCalc, which helps kids figure out how long they’ll have to save for something they want. You can sign up for free by visiting Zefty.com.
3. Practical Money Skills
If you think your child might learn more quickly playing fun games, this is the site for you. For example, their Road Trip game teaches kids that, in order to keep a car running, you have to pay for things like gas and insurance. Affording those things sometimes means sacrificing trips to the mall.
The website also features football and soccer financial games as well as Ed’s Bank, which teaches younger kids the importance of saving money and money values.
Why It’s Great: Your child can have fun learning “boring, grown up stuff.” They’ll enjoy the games and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’re gaining something more than just screen time. Visit Practical Money Skills to introduce your child to these free, educational games.
4. Rich Kid Smart Kid
Rich Kid Smart Kid uses free, interactive, animated games to teach kids everything from what debt is, to the importance of saving money. It even covers how to make a profit in a business.
The two main characters, Reno and Toki, take kids on adventures that teach lessons along the way. Each of the games has four levels for kids who range in age from K2 to twelfth grade.
Why It’s Great: Adorable characters appeal to kids’ imaginations while teaching them life skills. The site also has a Grown Up section for parents and teachers where they can find tips and lesson plans for teaching financial know-how (and maybe even learning a bit themselves).
5. H.I.P. Pocket Change
The U.S. government is getting in on the action of teaching kids about money by focusing on its history. After logging onto the H.I.P. Pocket Change site and then clicking on the “Toons” section, your child will be taken through interactive cartoon presentations of how money is made, what it looks like in other countries, and the history of money.
In addition, there are games and a collector’s club for kids who want to collect coins. Anyone can hop on to H.I.P. Pocket Change and start learning for free.
Why It’s Great: This is a little different from the other sites listed because it focuses on the physical money we use rather than our banking system. It helps kids understand money from a historical and cultural perspective and might just introduce them to a new hobby.
Kids just want to have fun. When you make learning about money and finances fun and entertaining, chances are that those lessons will stick in their minds. Give your child the gift of financial knowledge by exploring these sites with them. It’s something they’ll benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Does your child frequently use any financial education websites for kids? Please share your experiences in the comments.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)