December 6, 2023 4:13 am
December 6, 2023 4:13 am

A New Era in Personal Financial Management

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The pandemic helped accelerate adoption of easy-to-use financial apps, especially apps like Robinhood Prior to the pandemic who would have thought we’d have millions of people taking stock tips from TikTok and Reddit? Or using those tips from the comfort of their couch as they bought and sold options on margin using their smartphone? If there was any doubt that we’re living in a mobile first world, the last two years confirmed it for us.

Out With the Old

When I was young, I remember going to Key Bank for the first time and depositing a $15 check from my grandparents on my birthday. I’m thankful to have had a family that understood the importance of financial literacy and truly enjoyed going to the bank that day. On subsequent birthdays and after odd jobs I felt the same joy and to me, going to the bank was something my sister and I always looked forward to (partly also because of the dinosaurs that you could receive for making deposits). At the time, interest rates on certificates of deposits actually earned around 5% so I was also excited to see my balance go up by a couple dollars during the year just for withholding my impulse to spend my cash on the latest video game. In hindsight, I’m probably in the minority of kids that enjoyed going to the bank. Now a parent I feel I should reevaluate how I approach financial literacy for my daughter. Maybe going out to a physical bank branch isn’t the best experience for most children. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Hauling kids around is a pain – Even with a single kid, it’s a production to get out of the house. Gone are the days in which I can swipe my keys and simply roll out the door. Now it’s a checklist ten items deep: grab the water bottle, a snack, blanket, diaper, wipes, the list goes on. If I can instead teach the same lessons to my kids from the comfort of home, I’m going to 100% take advantage of that opportunity.
  2. Banks are boring – Traditional bank locations have old chairs sized for adults rather than kids. There aren’t any toys or even fun magazines to play with. I suppose they could use a phone but having a kid staring at a phone doesn’t seem too healthy. As much as I looked forward to going to the bank, the waiting sometimes drove me crazy.
  3. My Time is Valuable – If I’m going to drag everyone out of the house and spend money on gas when I’m spending over $5/gallon then the trip better be worth my time. In my experience using a variety of finance apps, I haven’t found a benefit to going into a bank branch for anything a kid would need to know. The only two times I can think of in the last four years that I’ve needed to be in a bank branch were to get a cashier’s check and to quickly deposit a bevy of checks from our wedding.

In With the New

Today there are several apps that can function as a digital wallet. You could use a several different types of apps as a homebase with a debit card. For examples, you can use a cryptocurrency app like Coinbase or BlockFi, a robo-investing app like Betterment or Wealthfront, investing apps like Charles Schwab Robinhood, traditional banks both national and local, or even fintech companies like Venmo or Paypal. These days, the options for managing your daily or monthly finances seems limitless. With so many options that are intuitive to use and can be done from the comfort of my home, it doesn’t make sense to try to take my kids out to a bank. If I did bring them out, I’d just be wasting their time by introducing them to an outdated method of managing their finances.

Instead, I can find or develop a curriculum to teach my kids basic financial literacy using a mobile first approach. Long term, I don’t see the trend towards digital wallets changing, so we need to make sure that children growing up now are introduced to these financial tools as they are able to learn the concepts. I think that the most beneficial reason to introduce these mobile apps early is to provide our children with the ability to successfully navigate the financial system of tomorrow with confidence.

What’s Next from Debt Savvy Dad?

The world of financial services reviews is extensive, but I believe there is room for improvement. I’d like to provide a perspective of different financial apps from the perspective of a dad trying to teach his children about finances. There appears to be a trend among personal finance enthusiasts, younger Millennials, and Gen Z to use a mobile first approach, so that I exactly what I intend to share with my daughter. While it is true that some millennials are content in their financial literacy and will continue to use established methods of payments through cash, card, and the occasional Venmo, I believe more people will continue to use a mobile first approach. To me it makes sense that what is emerging today in the financial industry will be mainstream a decade from now when my daughter enters double digits in the age column and begins to make more meaningful financial decisions.

During my upcoming posts I intend to explore the various financial apps that I use, categorize my use of financial apps into meaningful groupings and propose how financial apps can be organized.

With the amount of competition among all the different finance app categories I’m excited to share what I find!

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