While many adults struggle with saving and spending especially during the holidays, two D.C. finance whiz kids can help.
Last Christmas, 13-year-old Lavinia Pitts, and her twin brother, Hatcher, received access to a money management app from their parents.
Their mother, Mary Pitts, kept forgetting to give them their weekly $12 allowance. The family got the app because it was an easy way to shell out weekly spending cash while giving their children some hands-on money management skills, Pitts said.
Lavinia and Hatcher took to it so well that the teens were recently awarded the “Best of the Best” recognition from the BusyKid money app, a platform for those ages 6 to 17 to save, spend and invest their cash.
The twins, who attend Inspired Teaching Demonstration School in Northeast D.C., have become experts in saving for big ticket items, giving to charities and spending wisely.
“When you’re seeing your money instead of just using your parents’ money. You look at your Amazon cart and you’re like, ‘Why am I spending $500 on stuffed animals?’” Lavinia said. “Let’s not buy that.”
Along with the award, the teens get $100 each from the app to spend however they want. The duo said they have learned to handle a large influx of cash by avoiding impulse purchases.
“Only buy things that you need,” Hatcher told WTOP. “Or if it’s something you want and don’t need, think about it for a couple of days and then buy it.”
The teens have recognized a difference in their money styles.
Hatcher is a saver. When he uses the debit card linked to the app, the 13-year-old sometimes buys expensive electronics that amount to months of savings.
Lavinia enjoys giving to charities, especially those that aim to protect animals and help low-income families.
“It makes me feel like I’m helping for a bigger cause,” she said. “I can’t vote. I’m 13. I have a bunch of charities that I can read about. It just feels like one of the big ways that I can make a difference.”
Mary Pitts has noticed the changes in her children, too.
“I see our role as being in a position to put training wheels on for our kids to learn how to use their money,” she told WTOP. “This is preparing them to go out into the world.”
Lavinia shared a story of advising one of her friends as he was about to buy five Taylor Swift latest vinyl albums.
“He’s obsessed with Taylor Swift,” she said. “That sounds like something that I might have done but I texted him and said, ‘You can buy one of those and maybe a magazine. Do not buy five of them. You will put them in your closet and forget about them. You are wasting your money.’”
The twins are the only kids in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to make the BusyKid app the “Best of the Best” list. Now that the holiday buying frenzy has arrived, they are even more diligent about managing their cash.
“I’ve noticed something that a lot of adults do, and I don’t know why,” she said about Black Friday sales. “Just because something has a discount doesn’t mean you have to buy it if you don’t need it.”