One of the biggest debated topics in personal finance is how to teach children about money. Do you give them an allowance? Do you pay them for good grades? Do you open a checking account early? There’s a lot of different ways to approach the matter, but one of the best ways to teach children, about money or anything else, is speaking their language. So what’s their language? In many cases it’s games. Learning may seem boring but playing games, whether board games, video games, or card games, teaches children several life lessons. This is a great way to express the importance of money management, budgeting, and strategic thinking. Here are some games that taught me about money:
The Hasbro favorite has been around for over a century, starting off as The Landlord’s Game. Since its inception, there’s been so many different versions, editions, and spinoffs. You start off with a salary, you pay income and luxury tax, sometimes you get a windfall of money under Free Parking, buying and selling property. Monopoly instructed me not to overspend, when to take risks, when to be conservative, and simply that life happens. A Monopoly game in my house always resulted in a screaming match (“Don’t sell to her! Pay me my rent! I’m losing!”), but whether I won or whether I loss, I always learned a new lesson.
Pay Day is a Parker Brothers board game that not too many of my friends knew about, but I’m so glad my family grew up playing it. The objective is to have the most money at the end of the game. The board is set up as a month long calendar, and usually you cycle through 3-6 months, but you can play more if you’d like. You get play money, just like Monopoly, “Deal” cards, “Mail” cards, and a Savings and Loan calculator (the old school version we had came with a Savings and Loan notepad to calculate interest). You start with $325, and progress through the month according to what you roll on the die. At the end of every week, there’s a lottery. Sometimes you buy groceries, most days you get mail (which includes bills). At the end of each month, you get a pay day. This game showed me how to budget, save up, pay bills, and make it through the month.
The Game of Life
One of my favorite games ever, the Game of Life is precisely that. You go through the motions of life, but you grow up fast. Another board game (although there are electronic versions for game systems and your computer), Milton Bradley’s Life takes you through college, your career, your marriage, maybe children, up to retirement. It even inspired a book on how to succeed in real life no matter where you land. You once again have a bank with play money, and you get real life personal finance issues to handle like insurance policies and stock certificates. I probably wouldn’t have known what I had to expect on my way to “over the hill” age.
What are some of your favorite games about money? Did it involve play money?