Confession: I could never keep kids’ chores and allowances straight. I tried sticker charts; I tried whiteboards; I even tried apps. Each model failed because the chores assigned didn’t translate to the chores worked and definitely didn’t translate to the allowance paid to kids or even money spent by kids.
The BusyKid app is trying to change that. Gregg Murset launched the app in 2018 after working in financial technology and creating the app My Job Chart, which was also for chores. It didn’t do enough.
With BusyKid, you can assign kids chores or they can sign up for chores themselves. They check off that they did the chore, and you approve that. Then, the app will take money from your checking account and put it into their account in three different ways: spend (it goes on a debit card for the kids), save (the kids select prepopulated stocks they want to buy) and share (they donate to prepopulated nonprofits through the app). Parents get to set the percentage of spend, save and share for each kid.
It’s free to use, but you pay $7.99 per kid to have the debit card. If they lose the debit card, there’s a $5 fee for a new one. BusyKid makes money on the use of the debit card. Kids use the card and the merchants pay a fee to the debit card company.
Just like in real life with a job, there’s a payday, every Friday. Parents are given notice to approve their chores and the money that goes with them (kind of like your boss approves your timecard before you can get paid).
The app has 12,000 prepopulated chores with suggested prices, but you can set up your own chores and you control the prices.
Many of the stocks are things kids love like Netflix and Disney. They have to have at least $10 in the save bucket to be able to buy stock. The app uses Stockpile as its broker. There is a 99-cent fee to sell the stock.
There’s no minimum to give to charity.
Murset says the app is geared toward kids ages 5 to 15. His goal is to create a real-world model for kids to learn about managing money before they head off to college or are out in the world.
BusyKid allows them to practice working to earn money and to be accountable, he says.
“It mirrors reality,” he says. “They won’t find a job where you can do nothing and get paid still.”
The app does have the ability for families to give a bonus for a job well done or for a good report card or a birthday. They are also working on a way for grandparents to be able to do bonuses, too.
Murset has seven kids of his own who regularly do things like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and paying for their own college.
Having their own debit card, he says, “empowers that child. You get out your card and you buy it. It’s lessons learned.”
It can also cut down on the begging for junk that’s not really important to them the next time they are in a store with you.
Austin mom Darcy Baylis has been using Busy Kid with her daughters, Camryn, 12, and Carly, 10. “I think the reason I got it was, how cool is it that I don't have to remember to keep cash?” she says. So many times, she says, she wouldn’t end up paying them their allowance.
It’s also made them more responsible. “They realize that if I do this job then I will earn this amount of money,” she says. The jobs include things like feeding the animals or cleaning out the litter box.
So far, the girls have spent their spend money on their horses, buying Christmas presents for the family and buying things for each other like gum.
“It's not perfect,” Baylis says. “We're very busy, but I feel like they are doing more than they were before. They know that they have to pay for extras. They can't just ask me for money. It’s, ’Go do some extra chores.’”