It is never too early to learn about money. Teaching children about personal finance from a young age can directly impact their financial decisions later in life.
According to a report by the Council of Economic Education, only 19 states require that high school students take personal finance courses. High school may be the first time that some of these students sit inside a financial literacy classroom, but Goalsetter doesn’t want kids waiting until their teenage years to learn about interest rates, mortgages and other financial concepts.
Goalsetter, a Brooklyn-based FinTech start-up, is revamping the way parents teach and students learn about personal finance. Kids can save directly in the app, while also exploring a curriculum aimed at broadening their financial literacy.
“We have a chance in reversing the wealth gap that exists in our community right now by getting every kid a savings account,” Goalsetter CEO and Founder Tanya Van Court said.
Van Court, a two-time Stanford University graduate, said she got her biggest personal finance lesson when the dot-com bubble busted in 2000. She lost nearly $1 million after the stock market tanked and had nothing to show for her investments.
“I had two degrees in engineering but didn’t know the basics about wealth building or diversification,” Van Court said. “Although I can’t undo what happened to me, I will make sure that this never happens to my child.”
While balancing jobs at Nickelodeon and Discovery Education, Van Court always found time to teach her kids simple lessons on money and savings. In 2016, she turned her passion into a career and created Goalsetter, a shared personal finance app for kids and parents with a pay-what-you-can model.
Goalsetter works in two ways — it gives kids a place to save money and track their progress while enabling adults to donate towards those savings through a GoalCard. Goalsetter accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000, and allow parents to use debit card purchase round-ups to contribute to their kids’ savings. Parents can also automatically save specified amounts to the accounts on a weekly or monthly basis.
The savings can be used for college tuition, camps, and other expenses that children rack up along the way. When the savings goals are finally reached, parents have the option to transfer the money directly into their bank accounts.
Adults can be reassured that their money is being used effectively with the GoalCard, Goalsetter’s digital gift card. Any money that is put on a GoalCard goes directly into a child’s Goalsetter account, inching them closer to their new financial target. GoalSetter charges a $1 fee each time money is loaded onto a GoalCard. Additional fees are charged when GoalCards are loaded from debit or credit cards.
Goalsetter recently launched a financial literacy curriculum for students ages 5 to 18 through its Learn To Earn feature. Younger pupils begin identifying coins and dollars while teenagers learn about stocks and investing. The tests are called “It’s Lit” and teaches children and teenagers on financial concepts.
Parents can pay their kids for each quiz they complete sufficiently. The curriculum mirrors Jumpstart’s national financial literacy standards.
“It’s not just about teaching someone how to define these [financial] concepts,” Van Court said. “It’s about teaching them how to understand and apply them.”
The company is currently in talks with school systems, businesses, and non-profit organizations to offer its curriculum and app to more students.
Goalsetter is available for iPhones and Androids.