Think about what you were doing at seven years old. Maybe you rode around the neighbourhood with your first bike. Or hit the nearby convenience store to buy some Nerds and sour keys.
Financial planning, debt, and budgeting weren’t on your mind. Still, many of your finance behaviours were already developed at seven.
- You might have borrowed your bike from your older brother and knew you had to return it — that’s credit.
- You picked one type of candy and saved your spare dollars for the next trip — that’s budgeting.
The point? Kids start learning financial behaviours at a young age. That’s why the right accompanying guidance (financial literacy) is vital, to help shape healthy habits with money and teach kids the value of it.
Credit Canada CEO, Bruce Sellery, chatted with Chartered Professional Accountant and finance writer Robin Taub about family finance apps on his Moolala: Money Made Simple podcast.
We’ll walk you through some highlights and discuss how technology affects family money habits — the good and the bad.
Kids’ Financial Habits in Canada
Do you feel like your parents didn’t talk about money enough at home? You’re one of the 68% of Canadian parents who feel that way. According to a study by the RBC app Mydoh, your upbringing has a say in how you address financial situations, with 46% of parents stating they’ve had to “unlearn” poor financial habits.
Why was this the case?
Unfortunately, the stress of money is so powerful that it travels through generations.
And if you don’t talk about it, that shame makes it harder and harder to ask for help. This hesitation is deadlier than it seems — it compounds faster than credit card interest and can translate into poor financial literacy. Indeed, 30% of Canadians don’t consider themselves financially literate.
Fortunately, things are changing. About 60% of Canadians say they have a personal budget. Plus, parents are more eager to help their kids become financially literate from a younger age. On top of that, kids are more curious about money than the previous generation.
Banks have caught on, offering more flexible, kid-friendly bank accounts for families.
But that curiosity mixed with technological access can be both good and bad. Parents must balance giving their kids financial autonomy with just the right amount of supervision. Here’s why that supervision is vital.
One Australian survey found that 56% of fathers have caught their kids spending their parents’ money without permission. The culprit? Accessible credit cards, online shopping, and in-app purchases. Video game credits, fast food (Uber eats anyone), and clothing are among the top spoils. This isn’t surprising even in Canada, where 22% of parents say their kids spend 4+ hours daily on screens.
Some attribute this hyper online spending craze to an increasingly cashless society.
“There’s an added complexity,” says Credit Canada CEO Bruce Sellery. “Everybody’s tap-tap-tapping, nobody’s counting coins.”
But don’t fret; that same tech offers us innovative ways to help our kids build stronger financial habits for their future.
3 Finance Apps for Families
You might use money jars to teach budgeting or give your kids allowances based on chores. These are timeless strategies, but finance apps tweak and improve these concepts, making them even more educational and convenient for parents and children.
Mydoh is a smart cash card linked to an app offered by RBC. The app centers on two accounts: one for parents and one for kids. You can send your kids a set amount of money and link the amounts to the completion of chores.
Your kids can’t spend any money outside of the limit you allow them — the card stops working once it hits zero. Still, kids still get to mimic the adult financial activity of spending as though they’re using a debit card.
But what if they blow their entire balance on a massive Mcdonald's order for their friends after school? You’ll be the first to know since you can track purchases and talk to your kids about it after.
“What’s cool about it [Mydoh] is that it has additional features,” says Robin on the Moolala: Money Made Simple podcast. “Parents can monitor their children’s spending, they can react to their spending with emojis, so like a sad face or mad face…maybe a happy face…"
“You can assign chores, you can monitor whether chores are being done, you can pay their allowance all through the app.”
- Cost: $4.99/month ($2.99 for RBC clients)
- Trial: 30 days
- Best for: Real-life spending experiences for kids
WALO can connect to any bank account. Similar to Mydoh, it’s a prepaid card with balances that you can link to chore completion. Unlike your average debit card, kids can use it for in-app and online purchases. Of course, you can monitor spending and limit the balance, too.
But if you have a particularly competitive child, Walo might be a fabulous fit with its extra-gamified features.
Robin tells us that while Mydoh does have an educational component, Walo’s features add even more variety to the gamification. Kids can work toward savings goals and complete fun quizzes to improve their app standing (and financial literacy).
“There [are] quizzes and kids can earn badges; and that kind of thing. While they’re in the app, spending, and checking things, they can also learn about proper money management.”
- Cost: $9.99/month
- Trial: 30 days
- Best for: Gamification and rewards
iAllowance links rewards and balances to chore completion, but it’s restricted to only Apple devices. Parents can automate allowances and set reminders to keep kids on track with their chores.
Its multi-currency support sets iAllowance apart from the others on this list. You can have card balances in over 150 different currencies, which suits a travelling family well. With a one-time fee of $3.99 and a free version, it’s more affordable than any other app on this list. Still, Robin cautions against free-versioned finance apps, citing limited functionality.
- Cost: $3.99 one-time fee; free version
- Trial: N/a
- Best for: Travelling families – over 150 currencies
Finance Apps: Are They Right For Your Family?
The technology era might come too swift for some paper-to-pen budgeting parents. You might question whether any of these finance apps could replace your own parenting and whether it’s truly necessary.
“I wrap around the education at dinner and lunch and bedtime with other monitoring things, as they [kids] learn how to use money as a tool,” says Bruce.
Robin sees this DIY model as a traditional strategy effective for someone like Bruce, who is more comfortable and experienced with financial topics.
But she points out that the average parent might welcome the additional support finance apps offer.
“It may be easier for some parents who aren’t as comfortable talking about money to have some of this education built in.”
And if you’re concerned about your kids having too much access to your money?
Robin reminds us that you can still sit your kids down and review their spending habits on every one of these apps. Plus, the apps have several parental-control mechanisms to mitigate spending abuse.
“With these debit cards, you can still set daily spending limits. You can still choose how the card is used. You can limit withdrawals at ATMs and certain stores — you can also lock the card online or by the app if it gets lost. There are still ways to keep on top of your child.”
You can learn more about Robin’s insights in her award-winning book, The Wisest Investment: Teaching Your Kids to Be Responsible, Independent, and Money-Smart for Life.
Remember: kids’ financial literacy always starts with the parents’.
If you’re struggling with debts or other financial hardships, solving them is the first step toward promoting strong financial habits for your kids. Credit Canada’s certified credit counsellors can help with budgeting and debt relief options if you need support.
Contact us today.