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From Piggy Banks to Digital Apps: The Evolution of Budgeting Tools for Today's Kids

Updated: Dec 26, 2023

As an educator passionate about financial literacy, I have seen many different methods for teaching kids about finances. So in this article, I thought it would be fun to take a quick glance black at the tools that we’ve used to learn how to save in the past, and what we’re using now!


Table of Contents


a child learning to budget with a piggy bank and a tablet

Traditional Tools: Piggy Banks and Allowances

Piggy Banks: The First Step in Learning to Save

Remember the classic piggy bank? It wasn’t just a cute decoration; it was a child’s first foray into the world of saving. Piggy banks taught the basic principle of 'out of sight, out of mind,' encouraging kids to save coins and small bills. It was a simple yet effective way to introduce the concept of saving at a young age.

  • Piggy banks have helped kids learn how to save for a long time, and it’s still an effective tool today because it allows for easy visualization!

Allowances: Teaching Budgeting Basics

Allowances have been a longstanding method for teaching kids about money. Whether it’s a weekly or monthly sum, allowances teach kids to budget their spending and save for larger purchases. It’s a practical way to introduce concepts like delayed gratification and budget planning.

  • Regular allowances can instill a sense of financial responsibility and planning through an income that the child can control the use of.

If you have introduced budgeting to your kids already, which tool did you like the best to keep them engaged?

  • A Piggy Bank!

  • Digital Budgeting Apps!

  • Spreadsheets and homemade budgets!

  • Workbooks, ledgers, or other analogue methods!

The Transition Era: Ledgers and Spreadsheets

Ledgers: The Manual Tracking Method

Before digital tools, ledgers were the go-to for tracking expenses. Teaching older kids to manually record their income and expenditures in a ledger book was a valuable lesson in attention to detail and the flow of money.

  • Hand written budgets promote understanding of income, expenses, and the importance of balance.

Spreadsheets: Stepping into the Digital World

With the advent of computers, spreadsheets became a popular tool for budget tracking. They provided a more organized and efficient way for tech-savvy kids to understand and manage their finances. It was a step towards digital financial literacy, laying the groundwork for the tools we use today.

  • Spreadsheets teach kids about organized financial tracking and analysis. They can be powerful tools that are free to use, like Google Sheets. You can create charts and graphs to visualize savings, investments, and whatever else you’d like over time!

a family looking at a budgeting app

The Digital Age: Apps and Online Platforms

Educational Apps for Younger Kids

In the digital age, various apps have been developed specifically for teaching younger children about money. These apps often use games and interactive stories to explain basic concepts like saving, spending, and earning.

  • Apps make learning about money fun and accessible for young children.

Advanced Apps for Teenagers

For teenagers, more sophisticated budgeting and investing apps are available. These apps simulate real-world financial scenarios, from managing a budget to understanding the stock market. They offer a practical, hands-on approach to learning about personal finance.

  • Advanced apps provide teenagers with real-life financial scenarios, enhancing their understanding of complex financial concepts.

  • If you want to learn about some apps that can help your child learn about the stock market, check out our article on the subject here!

What We Recommend: Integrating Traditional and Digital Tools

In blending the old and the new, I highly recommend combining the tactile experience of physical money with the technological savvy of digital tracking. This approach offers a more holistic understanding of financial management for kids.

If you want some tips check out our article "Top 8 Tools and Resources for Teaching Budgeting to Kids"!

Play Money and Piggy Banks: A Tangible Learning Experience

Using play money alongside piggy banks can be an incredibly effective method. When kids receive play money - whether as an allowance or for completing chores - they can physically count and save it in their piggy banks. This hands-on experience is invaluable; it makes the concept of money more concrete for young minds. They can see their savings grow and understand the value of each bill or coin.

  • Play money and piggy banks provide a tangible way for kids to learn about earning, saving, and managing money.

Real Money in Bank Accounts: Parents' Role in Digital Tracking

While kids handle play money, parents can deposit an equivalent real amount into a dedicated bank account for their child. This account can then be tracked using one of the many budgeting apps available. Parents can sit down with their kids and show them how their savings are growing in the app, mirroring their play money savings. This method not only introduces children to digital financial tools but also to the concept of banking and digital transactions.

  • Parallel saving with real money in a bank account, tracked via budgeting apps, teaches kids about modern banking and digital finance management.

By integrating these traditional and digital methods, we create a comprehensive and engaging way for kids to learn about money. It’s about making finance both fun and educational, preparing them for the increasingly digital financial world they will grow up in.

A young girl putting money into a piggy bank

The Role of Parents and Educators in Financial Literacy

Guiding Kids through the Process

Parental guidance is crucial in navigating both traditional and digital budgeting tools. It’s important for parents to discuss financial concepts and monitor their children’s progress, whether they’re dropping coins into a piggy bank or using an app.

  • Active parental involvement is key to effective financial education for kids.

Resources and Tips for Parents

There are numerous resources available to help parents teach their kids about finances. From books to online courses, these resources can provide additional support and ideas for making financial education engaging and effective.


The evolution of budgeting tools from piggy banks to digital apps represents the broader changes in our financial world. As parents and educators, it’s our responsibility to keep up with these changes and teach our kids the timeless lessons of financial responsibility, using both traditional and modern tools. Let's embrace these tools to prepare our kids for a financially savvy future.

I’d love to hear your experiences or tips on teaching kids about finance. Feel free to share in the comments below


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