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Can technology be a friend to busy parents and teachers looking to educate kids about finances in the invisible money age? We speak to Spriggy co-founder Mario Hasanakos about the pocket money app that’s turning an old-school family tradition into an essential teaching tool for kids and parents.
As digital natives likely to spend more time online than watching TV, kids learn a lot from their devices. They’re bound to be doing some fantasy shopping on websites, but until kids have money and really experience the choices that come with it, they aren’t going to be learning important money lessons. So who does take responsibility for teaching kids about money? According to research from our Share the Dream reporton raising the Invisible-Money Generation, the overwhelming majority of parents (95%) are the ones teaching their kids all about money, with grandparents (63%) and schools (59%) playing a supporting role.
Pocket money counts
Given that learning about money starts at home, pocket money is still a top tool for teaching kids about spending and saving. In spite of this, survey results from Share the Dream show that more than a quarter (28%) of kids don’t get pocket money at all and this rises to more than a third (35%) for the 4-8 age group.
In our increasingly cashless society, well under half of transactions are being made in hard currency. So it’s no wonder parents may not have coins and notes at the ready when pocket money falls due. And if our kids only spend tangible cash, they could miss their chance to learn the discipline it takes to be responsible with tap and go payments once they get their hands on a debit or credit card in their teens. Let’s face it, adults can let spending get out of control thanks to technologies making it easy to buy without thinking about how much we’re handing over. With Australian credit card balances adding up to $45 billion and 1 in 6 consumers struggling with credit card debt, spending too much with plastic is a problem we need to nip in the bud.
A pocket money winner with the next generation
Into this arena steps Spriggy, a new pocket money app developed right here in Australia. Since launching in 2017, Spriggy has passed 100,000 users and the popularity of this parent and kid-friendly pocket money wizard is skyrocketing, with 300 new users joining each day. The app is a very simple one, but it disrupts the either/or choice facing parents managing pocket money. Do I stick with cash and piggy banks which removes the opportunity to teach with virtual money tools or go to the trouble of opening yet another bank account for my child?
With Spriggy you get a prepaid card for your child and a simple app to pay their pocket money onto the card from your virtual ‘parent wallet’, topped up from your bank account. You choose the amount and frequency and they get to save it and/or spend it using the card. You can also pop gift money from birthdays and Christmas on the card to add to their stash. All transactions are visible from your parent app so you can see what they’re buying, for how much and when.
Simplicity is key
Spriggy has been highly effective in meeting the need busy parents have to solve an immediate problem. How can I make it easier to pay my kids their pocket money and give them the means to spend it, without losing control? Mario Hasanakos, one of Spriggy’s co-founders, stresses how important it was to keep the app simple to make it a winner for parents.
“Teaching money lessons has never been easy, even in the days when we saved in our piggy banks and spent coins at the local lolly shop,” says Mario. “In our digital age, kids are bombarded with messages designed to make them spend and but don’t have ways to learn about spending invisible money in a safe way. We came up with Spriggy to help parents teach their kids about digital money as they engage with it day-to-day.”
Financial independence within safe boundaries
Spriggy is a runaway success with kids too. They get a real sense of independence when it comes to money, but in a way parents can feel comfortable with. And as they show themselves worthy of being trusted to make smart financial decisions, parents can relax the reins and give them more responsibility. It keeps them engaged with the product and the lessons they’re learning as they use it.
“A pattern we see a lot is where parents keep the card for their kids to start with,”says Mario. “When they’ve demonstrated how responsible they can be, parents can give them the card to use every day. So there’s a sense of progression and greater freedom and that’s what keeps kids interested. Giving families that flexibility and control to teach financial lessons in stages has been very successful. 77% of our current user base tell us they’ve seen a positive change in the way their kids handle money thanks to Spriggy.”
Technology is just the beginning
Having said this, Mario isn’t taking all the credit for raising financial awareness among kids. He’s well aware that Spriggy isn’t the teacher – it’s just a handy tool for triggering the conversations parents need to have with their kids about money. “Spriggy is a simple digital tool that solves a problem parents have in the here and now,”says Mario. “But along the way it creates all these teaching moments that are setting kids up to be much more successful with their money in the future. It’s a sort of hidden pay-off that families are getting from teaching kids about delayed gratification, opportunity cost and – my personal favourite – the difference between wants and needs. The goal of financial education isn’t just managing money so you can become wealthier. It’s also about understanding how to be happy with what you have so that money isn’t your only path to happiness and wellbeing.”
Early lessons make a difference
According to behaviour experts at Cambridge University, the money habits we act out as adults are pretty firmly entrenched in our seven-year old selves. While this wasn’t the driver for Spriggy to start making their card available to kids from age six –that came from existing customers and their wish to get their younger kids using Spriggy sooner – it seems that starting money lessons for kids earlier makes sense.
This applies in the classroom as well as the home, according to Kendall Flutey co-founder of Banqer financial education software for schools. “From the early interactions we’re having with 5,000 Aussie kids using our platform we’re seeing many children struggling to maintain positive cash flow,” says Kendall. “This kind of activity in kids often comes with other negative financial behaviours, such as a lack of regular savings and/or a disregard for the future. Thankfully, at a young age these behaviours can be changed more easily! By making kids aware of the consequences of their assumptions and actions, we can help them become more financially literate and responsible.”
Are you having enough conversations with your kids about money? Find out why it’s so important to get money out in the open in your family and learn more about how parents are going about talking money with their kids in our Share the Dream report.