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Tight-fisted teens? Web tool teaches youth fiscal responsibility

Actress Sela Ward joined Virtual Piggy's Board of Advisers because she was desperate to teach her children about money management, she said.

When Emmy-award winning actress Sela Ward cautions her 15-year-old daughter about budgeting her money wisely, the teenager often contemplates her mother’s suggestions and ultimately refrains from impulsively making a purchase. Her mom credits Virtual Piggy, an online service, with this youthful fiscal responsibility.

“The good news is…you can’t buy Louis Vuitton shoes yet on Virtual Piggy…because if she could, her budget might be totally gone in that one purchase,” said Ward, who is a Board of Adviser member for the online tool. “Once you start teaching a child these concepts at a very young age, it’s just ingrained and it’s also part of their consciousness.”

Virtual Piggy (tagline: Your Digital Family Wallet) allows adolescents to learn financial management by spending, saving, and giving money to charity. Dr. Jo Webber, an experienced software company CEO, founded the California-based website in 2008.

“Parents often don’t have the conversation with kids about how to manage money. The thing Virtual Piggy does is it puts the kid in the driving seat so the kid is out there making the decision,” Webber said during the Afternoon MoJoe web-exclusive interview.

Children as young as 6 years old can use Virtual Piggy, but it is recommended for adolescents between the ages of 11 and 15. The application makes sense for these digital-native children because the Internet has always been there for them, Webber said.

The website, which is free for consumers, recently gained more than half a million users. Its controls allow parents to allot certain amounts of money to their children and decide which stores they can visit on the web.

“When my kids were younger, I was desperate to find something to help teach them how to be financially literate because no one taught me that,” Ward said during an interview Wednesday on Morning Joe. “Still to this day I am trying to empower myself as a woman, right, and not rely on my husband or have a business manager.”

Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions in the Afternoon MoJoe section of the website.

Watch Ward’s interview on Morning Joe:

Teaching kids about money

Oct. 9, 201307:41