New app teaches financial literacy to young people

Mindblown Life is a mobile app that is designed to help young people achieve financial literacy. In the game, you can create your own customizable avatar and have it go through life making tough financial decisions, like how much to spend on food.

Most people aren't born knowing how to be smart with money. That's something you learn, often just a little too late. So how do you teach young people financial literacy before they run up their credit card bills, or take out too many student loans? One way is to get them where they live -- on their phones. Mindblown Life is a new mobile phone app. It's designed to help high school and college kids learn how to manage money by playing a game. You can create your own avatar and have it go through life making financial decisions about spending and saving, choices we've all had to make. Jason Young is one of the creators of the app.

"I would say that Midblown Life is really the next step in a journey that began during my sophomore year, winter break. I had gone home for Christmas as usual, but that Christmas was a little bit different from your typical Christmas. The day after Christmas my family was evicted," says Young. "My mom had purchased her house using a variable rate mortgage. And when the interest rates began to rise, she could no longer afford to make the payments. But beyond that, in trying to actually keep our home, she accumulated tens of thousands of dollars of credit debt. I always knew we had money troubles, but I had no idea it had gotten to that point."

Young says he helped create the app because financial literacy is a skill that has to be practiced. He says games are good at getting people to practice skills over and over again.

"The beauty of games is you have accelerated time. So you get to, first of all, see the consequence of your actions. Instead of having to wait, say, 30 years, you get to see it in a few hours. So you know that not saving, not establishing an emergency fund, resulted in you getting evicted when you had an emergency come up and you couldn't pay your rent," says Young.

Some of the emergency situations that players face using the app include getting robbed, having your car break down, and having your house catch fire. Young says the app helps players understand the importance of financial literacy and learn that money is only a contributing factor to overall happiness.

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...