More and more parents are becoming aware of the importance of teaching kids
the financial skills they’ll need to cope with an ever-changing economy once they fly the coop. It’s truly incredible how many kids make it to college these days without even the most basic knowledge of financial management (like how to write a check or balance their financial ledger). And when it comes to budgeting, you might as well be speaking French. Luckily, there are all kinds of games that can teach your kids the concepts behind creating a budget, such as how to track income and expenses, plan for money coming in and going out, and save for extras (or for unexpected costs). Here are a few that you can try out with kids of varying ages.
Most kids these days are more enamored of video games than the board variety, and even younger tots can take advantage of some of the many games available in the online arena geared towards helping kids understand finance. Visa, for example, has created a number of entries for kids from age four all the way up to teenagers. Their Practical Money Skills for Life website offers games that will start young kids out with counting money (Peter Pig’s Money Counter) while school-age kids and tweens can learn to save and spend appropriately (Ed’s Bank, Money Metropolis), and teens can learn a timely lesson about auto expenses (Road Trip to Savings) or test their financial knowledge while playing a pick-up game (Financial Football). In short, Visa provides several good options for all the kids in your household to start their financial education, increase their knowledge, and learn the skills necessary to formulate a budget.
Of course, there are plenty of other resources online, as well. It All Adds Up is a great option for older kids, featuring interactive games that teach kids how to use credit wisely, plan to buy a car, manage finances in college, save and invest, and of course, administer a budget. In some cases they can even compete against other players to see how they stack up in terms of financial knowledge and decision-making skills. And elementary-school children will likely enjoy Planet Orange, a game created by ING Direct to introduce kids to money, budgeting, and overall finance.
But if you’re looking for something simple to start with, you can’t go wrong with Monopoly. This classic board game is the quintessential introduction to the ways of a consumer marketplace, so if you include no other financial options in your game closet you may want to add this oldie. Kids learn about earning (they get paid every time they make it around the board), they can use their money to buy property (and even earn a passive income off that property if you populate it with houses and hotels), and there’s always a chance they’ll get tapped by the taxman (an IRS extension form 2011 won’t help here). They may also get pegged by bank fees or be forced to pay rent. Kids might think it’s just a game, but for parents it provides for a handy (and fun) teaching tool.
Author: Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.