I wouldn’t give up my career as a work-from-home mom for the world — after all, you can’t beat perks such as cost-free child care, flexible work hours, and the ability to watch your kids grow up and help them whenever they need you.
But, there is a downside to this independent existence as well, especially in the financial department. The lack of an automatic, regular, predictable paycheck can throw your whole life into a state of continuous uncertainty, and this uncertainty can confuse not just you but also your kids.
As a Mompreneur, I had a hard time explaining money matters to my kiddos in the same simple terms as a nine-to-fiver, since it can be kind of confusing (I don’t leave my house to go to an office and they never hear me talk about my crappy boss).
So I decided to help them along through simulation, using games, apps and other forms of safe virtual reality.
These are three apps that I liked that can help your children learn about money management the fun way:
1. Savings Spree – This addictive learning game comes from Money Savvy Generation, a company devoted to helping people grow their financial intelligence through various products and resources. Savings Spree, which runs on iOS 3.0 or later, features a character called the Money Savvy Pig who guides the player through various real-life scenarios such as saving for a new bike. Kids learn why they might need to put money away for a rainy day, how to donate to others, and how little savings here and there can lead to big savings down the road. Money Savvy Generation recommends Savings Spree for ages 7 and up, but even younger kids can enjoy it with a little help.
2. Dinorama – How do you care for a dinosaur, much less an entire theme park of dinosaurs? Kids love to wrap their heads around such earth-shaking problems, and this game from streaming media company thesixtyone gives them plenty to think about. You start out with money to purchase a single dinosaur, and as customers pay to see him you start investing in other amenities to support your growing enterprise and to obtain additional dinosaurs. Will you have enough in reserve to accommodate peak crowds, or to feed your hungry attractions? As kids learn to manage their theme park, they also encounter various fun facts about dinosaurs while developing some serious financial know-how. Dinorama ($1.99) requires iOS 4.3 or later.
3. The Sims 3 – Who knew you could live a virtual life for just $6.99? Electronic Arts does, and they make that virtual life available via The Sims 3. Be warned that this one calls for significant investment of time and brain power, with complex problems best suited to teenagers. You start by creating your avatar, or virtual human, and putting him through various real-life scenarios such as buying and decorating a new home, going to work, shopping, interacting with others, and pretty much every other normal everyday task you can imagine. But just as in the real world, purchases cost money and unwise financial planning leads to trouble, while successful saving and smart spending can help you thrive. This version of the original PC game is designed for iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android devices.
Let me know if you’ve found any other apps that teach money management skills to kids.