Teaching kids about money doesn’t have to be boring or serious – you can learn a lot from a good game every now and then!
Over the years we’ve all played and enjoyed the classics in money math games:
- Monopoly: great for learning to counting money and make change, but not a really good choice for financial literacy or learning how to manage money
- The Game of Life: Like monopoly, there’s a lot of counting play money and making change, but also some important life lessons here — college choices, career options, how expensive kids are, insurance, saving and investing. Come to think of it, the creators of this game took something that should be pretty dry and brought it to life
- Remember playing Lemonade Stand in school? Well, it’s still around, and you can play for free!
- Pit: the card game where players bid against one another to corner the market in commodities. A great lesson in economics, trading, and teaching kids about money!
- Payday: manage your expenses through the month, until you get back around to… you guessed it — payday! This game will teach money math: budgeting, paying bills, and managing expenses (and debt.) An old game, but still available, and might help your kids learn how to better manage their allowance. For added challenge, try Big Payday.
There are some newcomers – both board games and online money games that are really good for teaching kids about money-
- Cash Flow 101 – This is a more advanced version of Monopoly, with some very realistic real estate and debt calculations – there’s some sophisticated money math here! This would be appropriate for older kids or teens. There’s also a CashFlow for Kids that brings it down a notch appropriate for younger kids. These are not cheap games (are they ever?) but they’re fun and educational. If you can find or borrow a copy, give one a try.
- Agricola is a board game that has gained tremendous popularity – and dozens of awards worldwide – in the five years it’s been out. In Agricola, you manage a small farm, and must keep track of all resources to make repairs, plant, harvest, and feed the family.
- Celebrity Calamity! – Help the hapless celebrity learn how to manage money – do shopping, manage bank accounts, and learn about credit cards.
- Financial Football – Visa offers this online game which combines money math with one of America’s favorite sports.
- Virtual Stock Exchange Game – From MarketWatch.com, this free site allows you to create your own family “contest” to see who can make the most money (or lose the least!) trading on the stock market. This would be a great long-term exercise where you can talk with your kids about brands in the news, and learn how to invest money and monitor investments without risking any actual money.
And then there is this game that completely misses the mark, in my opinion:
- Electronic Banker Monopoly: Start with Monopoly, and then take away the play money, using a central “ATM” and debit cards to swipe in all of the transactions. No more counting money, no more making change. I think they took out the best part of the game! If you’re interested in teaching kids about money, why would you remove the money?
What are you playing with your kids that’s helping them learn money math?