Money Apps: Teaching kids about money

In our increasingly cashless society, what apps and online resources are available to help kids learn about how to save money?

Picture this. Your daughter has just turned 5 and wants you to buy her the latest LEGO Ninjago playset – or possibly another Monster High doll, depending on your daughter. Do you…

  1. Put it in the trolley – you can’t handle another screaming fit today.
  2. Tell her no and point out a few things that are similar but cheaper.
  3. Tell her she can have it when she’s cleaned up her room. You’re determined your kids are going to earn their pocket money.
  4. Pull out your mobile phone and show her the “money app”. She can have it when she’s saved up enough to afford it herself.

If you answered “D” pull out the money app, then we have just the thing for you! Here are some great money apps teaching Kiwi kids about how to budget, save, and spend wisely from day one.


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Recognising and counting money

Kids Count Money NZ

Kids Count Money NZ is a learning app for kids, featuring 6 games that showcase the different ways you can use money: buying things, counting pocket money, comparing prices, and more. Parents can “switch up” the difficulty of the app as their child gets used to the 6 games. This app does not contain any in-app purchases.

iCan Count Money New Zealand

iCan Count Money is – as the name suggests – a great way for your kids to learn to recognise and add up money. The “I can go shopping” game then tests their ability to add up the correct coins and notes to pay for different items. Available on iTunes.

Learning the basics

Zombie Cash-Tastrophe – by Westpac

Created by Westpac, Zombie Cash-Tastrophe is a board game designed to be a fun, interactive way to explain fundamental financial concepts. For ages 12 and up. You can download the game pack and the player pack from the Westpac website to play the game in your home or your school. If you want to run the game with your classroom or community group, please contact Westpac to get a copy of the facilitator guide:

Celebrity Calamity

In Celebrity Calamity, kids have to play Manager for three over-spending celebrities, from sports stars to actors. With more than 40 levels action-packed with impending bankruptcy, your kids have plenty of time to get addicted to saving money, working to earn their keep, shopping with a budget, and paying their bills. Available on iTunes.

GetWise videos on YouTube – by ASB

ASB’s GetWise video playlist on YouTube is a goldmine your kids can access from any internet-connected device. The videos cover everything from the value of pocket money to the difference between needs and wants.

Working for your allowance

Cash Critter App – by Westpac

Westpac’s Cash Critter app is all about setting savings goals and then working towards them by doing chores. Westpac created it after their 2013 Kids and Money survey showed 37% of kids have a poor to average understanding of the value of money.

This family-friendly app lets parents set a weekly allowance and assign a monetary value to each of the household chores. Grown-ups can also assign tailored chores based on each child’s age and capability.

When kids set a savings goal in the app, it allocates them a certain number of household chores to reach that value, and shows how many weeks of allowance they’ll have to save to buy the item. Here at Canstar, we’re pretty keen on the idea of teaching kids that they have to work to earn their pay and save up to buy things – it’s great training for the real world.

If the grown-up has a Westpac transaction account with online banking, they can pay a kid’s weekly allowance in cash or to any New Zealand bank account using the app. But you don’t need to be a Westpac customer to use the app. Available on iTunes.

YouMoney – by BNZ

YouMoney is an innovative online banking structure with BNZ that is actually surprisingly useful for young people. You can open up to 25 transaction and savings accounts with BNZ and allocate them to different day-to-day expenses or saving goals. You can even add images to each account and payee so you can recognise them easily. Drag and drop money between accounts to see your savings goals grow or shrink.

It’s a fee-free system for those under 18, students, graduates, and apprentices, which we have to say is a pretty good deal. Available online and as an app on iTunes and Google Play for Android.

Coming in 2016…

Clever Kash Moneybox App – by ASB

Clever Kash is a moneybox in the shape of an elephant, with a display screen that shows a child’s account balance and interacts with the ASB Mobile Banking app. You and your child can “swipe” virtual notes and coins into Clever Kash’s tummy to see their savings grow.

Clever Kash is set to launch in 2016, so watch this space! At the moment there are just a small number that have rolled off the production line and into the hands of some curious young Kiwis, who’ll be giving Clever Kash a thorough workout. The elephant might look a little slimmer than the photos of his prototype after the kids are done with the testing phase.

Why the weird name? They’ve spelled “Cash” wrong, and you might be annoyed – but it turns out there’s a good reason for it.

ASB picked elephants as their mascot in 1964 and launched their elephant-shaped moneybox for kids to encourage saving – because an elephant never forgets. They gave Kiwi kids the opportunity to name their elephant mascot, and one schoolgirl won with the name “Kashin”. It’s a play on the words “cash in” but it also means “compassionate” in Hindi. A real-life Kashin came to live at Auckland Zoo in 1972 thanks to ASB’s fundraising. Kashin was an Asian Elephant who was just 4 years old at the time. When she passed away in 2009, over 18,000 people showed up to honour her memory.

Today, she lives on in the hearts and minds of anyone who ever saw her at the zoo or had a Kashin moneybox – and hopefully in a whole new generation of “Clever Kash” kids.

There’s more to life than apps

Have a look at the comparisons of accounts in the Canstar Award report and see if you can’t find an outstanding value Junior Banking or Youth Banking savings and transaction account for your kids. Help them sign up for an account and get them started on the road to future financial freedom.


Find out who won Canstar's 2016 Youth Banking Award

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