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It can be all about fun and games

Board games, online games, apps, classes and more are available if you want your child to learn about money

Importance of money and its management is something that children can understand at an early age. But it may not be something that seems interesting to them. “In my experience, I haven’t seen many parents consciously set about teaching their children how to deal with money. Our children are growing up in an extremely aggressive consumer society where they are targeted as consumers from the time they are toddlers. So, it is important to teach children the way money works," said Abha Adams, owner of Abha Adams School Development Consultants, a Delhi-based education consultancy.

“Students in their last two years in school must understand the concept of financial planning—what is life insurance, difference between savings bank accounts, fixed deposits, and even how to maximise their savings," she added.

Parents can use specially designed apps and games to help teach children important money lessons. Schools, too, have programmes and courses that teach students how the world of finance works.

Mint Money takes a look at what is out there to help the young ones become more money-wise.

App(y) to help

One money related app is a virtual bank called Bankaroo. California-based Etay Gafni, its co-founder, said that his daughter, Danielle (15), came up with the idea for Bankaroo when she was just 10 years old. The app keeps track of what parents owe their child from chores and allowance and teaches kids how to be money smart. “Funds can be added from a parent’s account and put in children’s separate accounts. Goals can also be set. Money can be transferred to siblings as well," said Gafni, adding that the app has more than 60,000 members and can be used in more than 100 countries, including India. “It also works with many currencies," said Gafni. Bankaroo is available on iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms and on the Kindle, for free.

Another example is Slonkit, a money management tool that aims to help children understand and manage money. It is a mobile app but one can also apply for a reloadable prepaid card for children aged 10 or more. It is a Visa card by DCB Bank Ltd. The app allows parents to monitor how children are using the money. It works like a bank account and comes with a Net banking facility. Parents can even put limits on the amount that can be spent and the number of transactions on the card. They can even suspend its usage, say, if examinations are around the corner. Slonkit is available on iOS and Android platforms.

“We developed Slonkit to help children and parents track money and develop good financial basics. It was to address the problem of wanting to teach children the basics of money management and providing an environment of controlled financial freedom," said Murad Nathani, co-founder and chief executive officer, Slonkit.

If apps such as Bankaroo and Slonkit seem too complicated, there are others that teach the basics of money. Simpler apps, such as P2K Money (on iOS), teach children about saving and budgeting for the long term. And it is free of cost. There is another app called Renegade Buggies (available both on iOS and Andriod platforms), which is a runner game with financial literacy at its core. This, too, is free of cost. Saving Spree is another app on iOS for children above the age of five. It teaches how to earn money, avoid impulse purchases, how to set saving and spending goals, and so on. It costs 370 to download. Another app called ATM Simulator-Kids Money (on both Andriod and iOS; and free to download) teaches children how to work an ATM machine. There are many apps but not all may be good. So, read the reviews to know if content is well-thought out and engaging, and only then download. Of course, if you don’t like the app, just uninstall it.

Subject name: Money

Accountancy, business studies and economics have been a part of the school syllabi for long. However, many schools are going beyond and giving students a more hands-on experience of money management.

For instance, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) along with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) had launched a project last year in October 2015 called School Bank Champs. The motive of the project is to make students interact with banks to open accounts to avail debit card service, use Net banking and learn to manage their own finances.

Each school has to select a nearby branch for students’ day-to-day interaction, apart from opening individual bank accounts, giving debit cards, providing basic knowledge of Internet banking and making the students of the schools aware of products like insurance and pension plans.

The project was initially voluntarily started by IBA in collaboration with Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) and was subsequently brought under the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana.

Schools participating in the project will have a curriculum where students of classes 9 and 10 will be taught about savings, budgeting, entrepreneurship, money management, financial products and so on.

According to the School Bank Champs website, all states in India have schools participating in the project.

Another example is that of the National Institute of Securities Management (NISM), which launched its Pocket Money programme in 2014 for students of classes 8 and 9. Here, NISM conducts sessions spread over a year about money management, budgeting, basics of banking, investing and other topics.

There are also camps being organised for children to teach about concepts of finance. These camps can be conducted by schools and other organisations. For instance, Money-Wizards, a Chennai-based venture, conducts weekend workshops, holiday camps and after-school programmes for school children on money management. These classes are conducted in partnership with schools, as independently camps and demand-based classes in various neighbourhoods and large apartment communities.

“Interest has been increasing for our Money Champ financial literacy camps. The actual interest has to come from the parents. The age groups that are most interested are in the 10-15 years bracket. Our camps are completely game-based. More than 90% of our students come back for advanced classes. Many also get interested in entrepreneurship," said Venkatesh Varadachari, co-founder and director, Money Wizards.

Let’s play a game

In the digital age, video games have joined pencils and calculators as personal finance tools. For instance, Doorways to Dreams Fund (a Massachusetts-based financial literacy-focused non-profit group) has created Financial Entertainment, a library of six online and mobile games that are aimed at improving personal financial capability.

These include Bite Club, a game about saving for retirement while running a vampire nightclub, Celebrity Calamity which is about managing celebrity credit cards and spending, and Farm Blitz, which involves managing farm resources to build savings and survive financial emergencies. The games are free, and can be found here: http://financialentertainment.org. Then there is Practical Money Skills for Life, Visa’s financial literacy programme, which has various games on its website http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/games. Games include Money Metropolis, Financial Soccer and Road trip to Savings. Again, these games are free.

There are traditional board games, too, one of the most popular being Monopoly. In this you buy property, mortgage it, collect rent, and erect buildings while trying to avoid being thrown in jail and running out of money.

Along with the old-school version, which had cash, you can also get a version with electronic cards. The game is recommended for anyone above the age of eight and can be bought at toy stores and e-commerce websites. At Amazon.in, for example, it costs between 400 and 1,500.

Then there is the Game of Life. As the name suggests, it is a board game that plays across the entire course of life, from education to retirement. Along with teaching children about getting educated and making career choices, it also shows the importance of insurance and money management. It also throws some light on the stock market. Again, it is available in toy stores and e-commerce websites, and it costs 400-1,500. The Game of Life also comes with an e-banking option.

Mint Money take

Technology can make learning about finance more convenient and simple. However, teaching children about money should not be left to just games and apps.

“It is important for parents also to get financially smart. The next step is to put the knowledge to practice. If they do that, the children will learn directly from parents. Technology is optional in the whole scheme of things. This is not to say that technology is irrelevant, but it has a relatively small role to play compared to other factors," said Varadachari.

Although there is technology available at your fingertips, it should be introduced to children only when they are able to understand the concepts.

“Parents should start talking to children about money and its usage when they are 4-5 years old. Then gradually let them use games and apps. It may be best to introduce children to apps and games once they turn 12-13 years," said Rachna Monga Koppikar, whose blog is The Great Gruhini.

Outside of home, find out if camps or programmes on financial literacy are being hosted in your child’s school. Such hands-on knowledge will go a long way in making your child money wise.

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