The top apps for promoting fiscal responsibility
Fiscal responsibility is an important part of leading a successful life. At a time when Americans have an average of $5,551 in credit card debt at an average APR of 16.8 percent, US citizens also paid a total of $113 billion in credit card interest last year. Credit cards are just the tip of the iceberg, as many also have mortgages, car loans, student loans, and more. Financial literacy is a skill that has, for the most part, not been adequately taught in the American education system — a major factor in the national accumulation of debt.
Fortunately, acquiring financial literacy is easier than ever thanks to mobile apps that do everything from teach children the importance of being smart with their money to helping adults plan for retirement. BOSS looks at a few of the top financial literacy apps according to the goals they help users accomplish.
Teaching Kids Financial Literacy
Teaching any skill at a young age is, of course, optimal and can lay a strong foundation for their adult lives. However, when it comes to mentioning economics and fiscal responsibility, most kids’ eyes will glaze over as they tune out and ignore any further discussion. Recently, apps have emerged that gamify financial literacy and make learning the skill more appealing to young children.
Green$treets: Unleash the Loot
Meant for early elementary students age 5-8, Green$treets: Unleash the Loot allows kids to adopt endangered animals by saving for food, shelter, and toys. When the animals are ready, they are released back into their natural habitat. Only by spending their money wisely can the players successfully prepare their animals for release.
Targeting kids age 7 and up, Savings Spree uses a game show format to help children learn money saving skills. Six-round games test financial knowledge and help build skills by showing players how daily spending habits can add up over the course of a year and how unplanned expenses can arise.
For the preteen and teen age group, there is Celebrity Calamity, which allows users to choose a star and run their lives. Acting as a financial advisor, the player selects jobs to take or pass and manages the budget while also keeping the celebrity happy. The game teaches players the consequences of overspending and the importance of adhering to a budget.
Between paying off loans, credit cards, and mortgages — as well as daily expenses such as food and gas — there is a lot to consider for those hoping to manage debt while also surviving and having a social life. The following apps help users get out of cycles that lead to the accumulation of even more debt.
Wally is an expense tracking app that allows you to take pictures of receipts and use geo-tracking, making it easy to enter your earnings and expenses. The free streamlined interface lets users know exactly where their money is going, helping them discover what expenses they can reduce or eliminate and how they can better use their money.
You Need a Budget operates on the simple concept that every dollar you earn has a specific job — namely, to save or invest, pay off debt, or cover living expenses. In addition to tracking your spending, the app offers online classes with a live instructor and an “accountability partner” to keep you on track. According to the site, users save an average of $600 by their second month and more than $6,000 during their first year. A 34-day free trial is offered to new users.
More of an online course than an app, FinStrong is ideal for those really looking to get a grasp on financial literacy. It features gamified learning, assessments, in-depth videos, and more. Subscribers learn the ins and outs of credit scores, how to choose insurance plans, how to save, how to eliminate debt, how and what payments to automate, and more.
It’s one thing to manage finances for one, but when there is an entire family dependent upon your fiscal decisions, some extra help is useful. The following apps make familial budgeting easier and allow sharing of information between members, promoting financial literacy among the whole clan.
HomeBudget syncs with multiple devices so every family member can learn what is driving monetary decisions. The software tracks income by earner, tracks expenses, and organizes them by category and sub-category, and displays data in easy-to-read pie charts and bar graphs.
Spendless allows users to manage their money on their own or with the assistance of their family. The app lets family members communicate with one another by tagging spending locations and adding personalized messages. Expenses are categorized and spending limits can be set to help prevent overindulging in specific categories.
PocketGuard helps prevent overspending and cut back on monthly expenses. The app examines recurring bills and finds areas where certain services and subscriptions could have their fees reduced and where deals have been found. A family budget is created based on income and expenditures.
A Path Forward
It is not always easy taking steps to reduce debt or save for retirement or other major life events, but the aforementioned apps can make the effort a bit easier. Increased financial literacy prevents people from overspending and acquiring debt. Now, the power to become more financially literate is at our fingertips.