This is part two of a series on children and money. You can read the first episode here.
Remember how your little ones begged to push the vacuum, sweep, cook and even wash the dishes for you? If you want your older kids to be half-hearted about chores, Gregg Murset might be your guy.
A certified financial planner and consultant in Phoenix who has spent years hearing parents talk about the difficulty of getting kids to do chores or save money, Murset is the co-founder and CEO of BusyKid.com, an app that helps parents teach their kids the basics of earning, saving, investing and sharing.
“I have six kids myself, ages 10 to 20, so I have battle injuries,” Murset said with a laugh. “You could say I created this tool in self-defense.”
For Murset, using online technology to teach these skills was crucial: recent studies show that tweens spend 6 hours a day tablets, iPhones and other screens. “That’s how kids learn these days, so teaching them with coins and paper dollars isn’t so smart anymore,” Murset said. “Why not use some of that screen time for good and to practice the life skills they need to fly on their own?”
It turns out that these life skills are indispensable in modern America. According to a study by George Washington University, only 25% of young Americans have even the most basic financial skills. In a recent study on 15-year-olds and financial literacy, one in six teenagers is not meeting basic criteria for financial literacy, such as understanding the numbers on a bill. Despite these worrying figures, only about a third of American high schools need a course in personal finance. “Frankly, kids don’t learn to make smart financial decisions in school,” Murset said. said. “It all falls on the parents; children are not taught anywhere else.
Murset wants to help change that with an app kids can use to track chores and gain experience with saving, investing, budgeting and make charitable donations and expenses. The father-of-six said parents can pick and choose which chores to do, perhaps by talking at a family gathering. Significantly, he opposes giving children an allowance “for doing nothing”.
“I think that’s sending the wrong message,” he said. “Think of it as your child’s first job. We say, ‘Here are some chores, go do them and earn some money.’ »
How it works
Parents can try out the tool and — if it suits them — sign up for the platform for $12 per year. Instead of nagging their child to do chores, the app sends messages and text messages confirming completed chores, along with their earnings, which are divided into accounts labeled “save, share, and spend.” Like Murset, financial expert Beth Kobliner, in her book How to make your child a money genius, suggests setting aside a fixed portion of income for savings and charity. Murset’s platform helps make that second nature.
With the tool, you select or create a to-do list and ask your kids to check them off online when they’re done. Every week, you get a prompt from the site asking if you want to pay for completed chores, and if so, the money is deposited into an online account for your kids. Voila – their first direct deposit paycheque!
To create BusyKid, Murset drew on his experience as the inventor of My Job Chart, the nation’s first electronic chore and allowance platform, which has grown to nearly one million members in four years. The difference between the two apps is that My Job Chart uses a points system for tasks which are converted into dollars. “I really wanted to take the platform to where it wasn’t about points; it was real money,” Murset said.
One of the most intriguing parts of BusyKid is that kids can invest in the stock market in a convenient way. Murset has partnered with the Palo-Alto-based company Stockpile to let kids use the money from the “saved” bucket to buy whole or partial stock from companies.
“In our program, kids can literally buy fractional shares of, say, Netflix or any other stock,” he said. “Now they are suddenly interested in the business and its profits because they have a share of it, albeit a tiny one. It’s a great real-world learning opportunity. If your child is getting discouraged because their stocks are falling, now is a great time to talk about the stock market and what “buy low, sell high” means.
A unique experience
Murset’s work on behalf of children’s financial literacy has drawn attention. He was named the 2014 “Smart Money Week” Chair for the State of Arizona, as well as the National Financial Educators Council Financial Education Teacher of the Year.
Helping kids develop a work ethic, responsibility and financial intelligence continue to be Murset’s goals, and judging by his own kids, BusyKid has a lot to offer. “My older kids graduated from the platform, but they learned what they needed,” he said. “At 18, my son left for college with $11,000 saved, which is more than the average American has in savings. Then, for a birthday present, he wanted an IRA… I think I created a nerd!
As part of the research for this article, I decided to try the mobile platform with our kids, only stopping to pass out at the suggested prices for chores ($1 to make your bed ?!) Murset explained that these were average amounts Americans are paying children for chores — although, he said, “some parents pay a little more and some are stinkers” ( Ouch!) The tool allows you to edit tasks and compensation amounts, so (as bona fide misers that we are) my husband and I quickly lowered the suggested payouts.
Our kids still at home were thrilled with the idea of using an app instead of a chore chart. We left some daily tasks unpaid (setting and clearing the table, making the beds, etc.), created a paid list and added other suggestions from the children, such as taking care of the chickens and collecting the eggs. They can’t wait for “payday” (my kids can’t wait to decide which charity to donate to). My son also hopes to buy a fractional share of animated film company Dreamworks with his savings.
It is exactly this kind of real transaction that Murset believes is needed in these times. “Children have too many virtual experiences these days; they use the money to buy imaginary parts in video games,” he says. “Why not let a 13 or 14 year old see what a rising or falling stock looks like? Nothing replaces first-hand experience.