Fisher MBA graduate Michelle Salsberry releases app to teach kids about money and stop their begging for toys

Seventy-six percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to CNN. On top of that, kids are whining in stores all across America. Though the two may not directly go hand in hand, Michelle Salsberry, a 2014 MBA graduate from the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, is working to fix the two in one fell swoop.

Just released in Apple's app store, Quest to Clean Up, a free app, made it from Salsberry's MBA project starting from a pain point-her whining children-to a success.

The app shows children ages three to 15 just how much something is worth and is designed for kids who earn within the home. When kids see a toy or clothing item they just can't live without, they scan the item's UPC code through the app and a picture of the product will come up. Kids then add the price of the item and find out how many tasks at home they would have to complete to gain it.

The app also reminds children of their chores for the day, paid or unpaid, and completed paid tasks earn children virtual money that they can place in a virtual savings or spending account, so parents know how much real money they owe their children.

Surprisingly, or not, kids love it.

"When we were doing focus groups and sharing early prototypes (kids) kept on asking, 'when can I have it?' Kids like it too because it adds responsibility," says Salsberry. "They don't like to whine either because 90 percent of the time the answer's 'no.'"

Part of the reason kids like the app is its relatability. By no means does Salsberry intend for the financial-planning lessons to be college prep courses. "For example, we don't use the term 'compound interest,' instead, we say, if it's the Fall and you rake leaves on the first day of Fall it wouldn't be that great for jumping, but if you wait many days after, you have a much larger, full pile and how much more fun that is to jump into."

Through these lessons, Salsberry hopes to stop a common occurrence of binge buying once children turn into adults.

"As a society, we really don't talk much about money. It's taboo," says Salsberry. "But this has terrible effects because adults, when they get a first job, they get to experience the joy of saying 'yes' to themselves all the time and don't know the consequences of that."

Kids and parents aren't the only ones excited about the app's potential for fiscal responsibility. Salsberry won second place for the app in Women Who Tech's first-ever Women Startup Challenge Pitch Competition, which took place in June. The win included complimentary tech classes and entry to a San Francisco startup conference.

The perks will help Quest to Clean Up expand: Salsberry has plans to create two new versions of the app, one for a mid-range age that earns within the home and works outside and another version for adults, for which she has had multiple requests to make an app.

"We chose to go to a younger market because we think it's easier to instill a new habit than break a bad one," says Salsberry. But that doesn't stop her from taking on the challenge of the latter.

-Julie France