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Using Chores Apps to Teach Kids Financial Literacy

For many of us, our first exposure to financial literacy concepts was doing chores around the house in exchange for an allowance. Now there are a number of smartphone apps listed below that parents can use to assign chores or tasks, and these apps will help kids learn the ins and outs of financial literacy.

Time time-honored tradition of parents assigning their kids certain chores or errands around the home dates back over 100 years and continues today, but modern kids and their parents have big technological advantages today, simply using their smart phones. The apps can give kids and their parents a tremendous head start in learning how to manage money.

With the traditional allowance, the only real lesson you learn is that you have to work hard and do stuff you don’t want to for money. With today’s mobile phone apps (on Android and iPhone) that help with chores, kids can start learning financial literacy lessons that you used to not be able to get until you were in high school or even an independent young adult; how to save money efficiently, use credit wisely and even begin to experiment with investing.

Not only can these apps teach kids valuable life lessons about money, they may also increase their enthusiasm for chores and earning money on their own once they see how they can increase their purchasing power beyond the initial amount they’re given. Parents can use them too to help their kids to start to save, build assets, and maybe eventually invest. Find additional tips and ways to set up investment accounts for kids.

Allowance & Chores Bot (Android, iOS)

If you have more than one child and they each have their own set of chores and allowance amounts, Allowance & Chores Bot helps you keep everything under control. Children get to choose a custom cartoon avatar for themselves, and get a daily list of chores to tick off. Parents can easily move chores to different days or swap them between children by simply dragging and dropping. Added features include a projection graph that shows kids how much they’ll save over time based on their schedule, and parents can add special bonus reward conditions.

The basic version, which limits some of these features, is free. Unlocking all of the features requires a subscription of $3 per month or $20 for a year paid in advance.

Allowance Manager (iOS)

Allowance Manager pairs the simplest possible interface with the option to link a prepaid Visa card for kids and put restrictions on their spending. This app is ideal if you just want a very basic and easy-to-use list that tracks the balance of kids accounts, allows you to deposit real money for them to spend, displays individual transactions and allows you to attach notes to them, and lets you disable spending at any time. The app can track accounts for up to six kids at a time.

The app is free. Card tracking and management is done through Apple Pay, so kids will need to obtain their own prepaid card and link it to their account to use this (the app does not have its own card).

BusyKid (Android, iOS)

BusyKid manages chore lists and allowances, but the real meat of the smart phone app is in its added features. Kids can invest in inexpensive “fractional shares” of actual stock in a number of major companies, make donations to a number of vetted charities, or move money to savings. As even investing $1 a day can allow a kid to become a millionaire, if they start early. The app can help kids learn about investing, a critical financial literacy skill. Parents link up a bank account so that all of these transactions are happening with real money.

The basic app is free, but there are fees for some of the advanced services. Kids can receive an optional Visa prepaid card to spend their money with, which costs $8 per year per card. If you opt to let them invest in stocks, parents will need to create a custodial account with Stockpile and there will be a 55 cent transaction fee per trade. The BusyKid prepaid card also has some fees: transfers from card to card are $1 each, and a transfer from the card to a bank account is $3.

Chore Check (iOS)

As the name suggests, Chore Check is another chore list management app in the style of some of the ones listed previously. However, it has a few unique features. The card tied to the app is a MasterCard, if you would prefer one of those to the standard Visa. If there is more than one kid in the household (up to six can participate), the app fosters competitiveness by allowing kids to “steal” chores from others.

Another big benefit is that the app is totally free, although the debit card has a fee of $9 per year per card.

Famzoo (Android / iOS)

Famzoo is possibly the most comprehensive chore, financial literacy and banking app for families with kids, and has won a number of awards from financial publications and competitions. It’s been around in one form or another for over 10 years now and is definitely one of the most popular apps of this type out there.

Famzoo’s centerpiece is a highly detailed chore management system that lets parents do things like assess penalties for missing chores and set up automatic matching contributions to savings. The feature list is much richer than most of the other options in this category.

You can opt to run Famzoo either on an “IOU” system that uses virtual money, or by using the platform’s MasterCard debit card to move real funds around. The pricing structure for this app is interesting; it’s actually cheaper to use the debit cards than the IOU system! Both plans offer an initial free trial period of at least two months, but then it is either $6 per month to run the IOU system or as low as $2.50 a month for up to four debit cards (if you prepay a year in advance).

Go Henry (Android, iOS, Kindle)

Go Henry is another chore allocation and spending app that is tied to a debit card, but this one allows parents to block spending at specific locations if desired. They can also set individual spending limits on single transactions, total weekly spend and ATM withdrawals. When kids fire up the app they see at a glance how much they’ve spent for the current week, how much they have in savings and what paid chores are still available to them.

The app asks a $4 monthly fee for use plus the debit cards; it’s a little more expensive than other options, but it’s also one of the best-organized and designed. A free month’s trial is available to see if it’s a good fit at no risk. And there is no added fee for transferring money back and forth from parent accounts, though there is a $1.50 fee per ATM withdrawal.

Greenlight (Android, iOS)

Greenlight is very similar to Go Henry in terms of features and fees. One unique feature of Greenlight is that it teaches kids about interest; they get an APR rate on the money they allocate to savings, the payments for which come from the parent account. Greenlight also has added savings goal options, and the app’s developers also allow for investing in fractional shares of stock.

It’s $5 per month for kids to maintain a debit card, with up to five cards at that price. One big benefit is that in-network ATM withdrawals don’t cost anything, and there are no inactivity fees. Kids can opt to customize their card with a picture for an added one-time fee of $10.

HomeRoutines (iOS)

HomeRoutines is another good option for Apple users who just want a free and basic chore and allowance tracker. You can schedule regular repeating weekly chores, set a timer for individual chores, and set automatic reminder messages among other features.

Homey (Android, iOS)

Homey is similar to comprehensive chore and banking apps like FamZoo and Greenlight, but one big difference is that it allows chore money to be directly transferred to a child’s bank account rather than using a prepaid debit card system. It’s thus best for kids who are old enough to handle the responsibilities of a joint bank account.

The subscription cost is $5 per month to get access to the app’s full range of features.

OurHome (Android, iOS)

Do the kids take turns picking up some share of the groceries in your household? If so, OurHome might be the chore management app you’re looking for. In addition to some pretty good chore and allowance tracking features, this app lets you create shared shopping lists that can be checked off as items are picked up.

The app is also free, which is always a nice perk.

RoosterMoney (Android, iOS)

RoosterMoney is a good choice for parents looking to introduce younger children (age 3-6) to some sort of a pre-money system. It helps kids start to learn about money and financial literacy at a very early age. Younger kids can be awarded “stars” to trade in for rewards instead; as they get older, the app can transition to rewarding them with real money. It also allows for long-term savings goals.

RoosterMoney has a free basic version; unlocking all of the features requires a subscription of $2.50 per month or $19 per year.

Chore apps for kids

S’MoresUp (Android, iOS)

If your focus is more on family management than banking, S’MoresUp might be the one for you. But there are some basic, easy to learn features about the basics of financial literacy. In addition to chore lists, this app lets you manage family appointments and events. A “level up” system lets kids earn points for their completed chores and gradually unlock new bonuses.

S’MoresUp asks a subscription fee of $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

Chores can help kids save and invest

All of these smartphone apps have pros and cons. No matter which one is used, the point is to start early. Having your kid(s) do some chores, paying them allowance, and helping them manage their money are all very important financial literacy skills. The younger a child start to learn the better.

The biggest reason to start early is time. Investing a small allowance, at an early age, will allow children to benefit from compound interest as their investments grow over the years. Even starting with a small allowance from a chore app is enough to get started. Or find other tips on how you can start to invest. As using allowance and apps to assign chores is but one way.

By Jon McNamara