Are you interested in learning how to be more disciplined in your spending and savings, while also teaching your kids lifelong lessons about using money wisely? If yes. Did you know there is an app for that?
Let’s start with some disclosures: We receive no financial compensation for recommending this App, other than we believe in financial literacy education tools for children. Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at how this App helps young kids learn important basic financial best practices.
Goalsetter is a deceivingly comprehensive financial software wrapped in a user-friendly website designed to encourage even the weak-willed to develop savings and goal-setting techniques. Plus, by inviting family members—including children as young as 8 years old—into this financial universe, you can encourage your kids into positive actions, from being rewarded for doing chores to keeping track of their spending and savings. The app also makes it easy to transfer payment to family members for routine expenses, such as textbooks for the college student, or cash for the big date, a pizza party, or perhaps a nice present for your mother who you never call.
The brainchild of a relatively new company called Students of Wealth, Inc. out of Brooklyn, NY, Goalsetter is fairly simple to use. They begin by requiring new members to create an account with an automatic transfer from their traditional bank account into the app every week or every month. Members are then encouraged to “invite a friend” into the family, including family members from spouses and children to siblings, grandparents, etc., who either receive or offer transfers.
The Cashola Debit Card
Users have several savings, spending, and teaching tools; much of it facilitated by accessing a Cashola debit card. The Cashola debit is a Mastercard provided through Meta Bank, acting as a partner with the Goalsetter organization. Your Goalsetter account funds the Cashola card for various activities, including:
- Purchases with a “round-up” feature: Set up the card to round up purchases to the next dollar, moving the change into a savings area set for a goal, such as vacation, a large purchase, or long-term savings.
- Control child spending and savings: Simplify college-age children’s expenses by depositing cash directly into the debit. Or, deliver allowance to your twelve-year-old once specific chores have been completed.
- Financial literacy quizzes: The Cashola card offers parents the option to teach children financial literacy by requiring them to correctly answer questions about money before gaining access to funds. Some may say this is cruel; others may say it’s brilliantly motivating. We think it might be a bit of both, but who said parenting was easy?
Auto Saving Made Simple
Perhaps the best feature of this app is the ability to set up savings goals, including shorter-term family vacation plans, as well as long-term savings like college funds or a vehicle or home purchase. While nay-sayers (including those ancient survivors who still cling to their Christmas club passbook account at the local Savings and Loan) will dismiss this feature as frivolous; we think the forced discipline crafted into Goalsetter’s auto-saving feature is so brilliantly simple that it is perfect for today’s cash-strapped family to reach important financial goals.
Accountants are always asked how to help business owners develop better financial controls, but talking personal financial discipline to an adult seems to only happen when advising someone close to bankruptcy when the damage has already been done.
Teaching children healthy money handling and savings habits is a life skill. Perhaps that is why we are so impressed with the Goalsetter software. While we don’t represent or endorse this product, we do think it is an excellent idea and worth your examination—particularly if you are looking to teach your children how to be responsible with their money.
There are several web-based financial literacy applications, to be sure. For a few good references on the subject, we suggest
- Reading a recent NY Times article on the topic
- Reviewing these children’s financial literacy tips and these from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Expect more competition to come in this industry as time passes. From our perspective, Goalsetter and its peers are a brilliant example of technology being applied to both practical finance and teaching financial literacy.