I hate to sound like a luddite, but I’m wondering if all of these easy-to-use financial apps are actually helpful in teaching our kids about money. How can a teen learn about the value of a dollar when it’s made of zeroes and ones?

To be sure, this is not a new thing. When I was very young, my sister and I were pestering our mother to buy us something and she kept saying it was too expensive. I remember my sister saying, “Just write a check!” Even at a very young age, my sister began thinking of money as more than just cold, hard cash.

Since there’s no avoiding digital money, it would be parental malpractice not to prepare the kids for it. There are more apps than you can shake a stick at, so I asked around and found out what was trending with some parents in my network.

  • Step is a parent-friendly money app that helps your kid start building credit early. It can be used to transfer money, track spending, and parental controls allow it to be frozen if your child gets on your bad side. The credit-building is done via the Visa Step Card, which is a unique kind of secured card that allows teenagers to build their credit without making monthly payments. 
  • Greenlight is another app, but unfortunately its website will not tell you anything about the service unless you enter your phone number. Yeah right!
  • By now most of us know about Venmo and CashApp — all that’s required is a bank account and a smartphone. Good old PayPal allows you to transfer money on the web (without a smartphone) and buy things at many online retailers.  
  • Western Union is still going strong in 2023, but now you send money from the comfort of your own home. What’s more, you can pay your young adult’s utility bills without ever sending money directly to them.

As I mentioned in a recent article, JHA offers money mentorships through our Lifestyle Division. For more information, contact us.