Teaching our kids about money, and how to use it wisely, is one of the most important things we do as parents. The earlier the lesson is learned, the better our kids will be able to cope with the realities of life when they grow up. Some of the lessons, like telling our kids they can’t have everything they want, are tough; but not all the learning needs to be hard going.
We’ve hunted down the best games that will help your children to get financial savvy from a young age. Having fun while learning makes lessons stick. Investing in these games is an investment in your children’s future.
Real Life and Fantasy Games
There are some great online games and smartphone games that can help you get the message across, but some of the oldies are still super-effective.
Sort the Change
This is an excellent way to teach preschoolers about money. Explain the different values of coins, and then let your child sort the contents of a piggy bank or change jar into separate containers.
Another good game for very young children can be played while you’re out shopping. How much does their favorite cereal cost? How much does milk cost? You can expand this game by asking your child to look at supermarket adverts in the newspaper. If they find you a bargain, reward them with the amount of money you saved.
Pocket Money Budgeting
This is a terrible game, but it can be fun, and it gives kids a sense of empowerment. Provide them with an allowance to cover clothes, snacks and toys. Calculate it so that they will have to budget carefully and even save when they have something costly in mind.
Show them how to work out a budget, and be strict about offering extra money if they overspend. Making allowances dependent on chores helps moms, and bright kids soon learn from their budgeting mistakes.
Kids and particularly little girls love playing shop. It’s a fantasy game, and they can play it with their friends, taking turns to be shopkeeper and customer. Monopoly money is useful for more than just Monopoly! Older kids can make their shop game into real life by baking cookies for sale or by setting up a lemonade stand.
Board Games and Card Games
There are several classic board games that can teach kids about the value of money as soon as they know how to add and subtract. In both Monopoly and Careers, children need board game money to achieve their goals. Careers has an added twist because the best money-making careers are also expensive to get.
If you didn’t play this game when you were a kid, don’t let your own children miss out too. They’ll learn budgeting basics the fun way!
Loads of fun for kids, this game teaches them how to save, budget and pay off debt fast. The aim of the game is to become debt-free. The essential lessons it teaches will last them for a lifetime. Charge Large has a similar purpose, but allows kids to use ‘credit cards’. If they are smart with credit card use, they can achieve goals faster, but if they charge too much to their cards, they will get into trouble!
Knowing the difference between assets and liabilities isn’t just for accountants. Treasury for Kids manages to teach this principle in a fun way. Once your children are older than 12, they can graduate to the more sophisticated version of the same game.
Players choose jobs, save money, and invest it in the “stock market”. Their aim is to save enough for their retirement. That’s a lesson many adults struggle to learn, so teaching your kids through the game will not only prepare them for real life but get an important message across.
When they are still knee high to a grasshopper, kids fall in love with electronic games. You can keep them amused and teach them valuable financial lessons with these online games. Some of them are rather simple, and probably won’t keep them entertained for more than a few hours, but the valuable lessons are still learned.
Visa and the NFL teamed up for this game, and although one wouldn’t usually see football as particularly educational, this game is all about financial acumen. The only way for kids to score points is to show they understand money management basics.
This games suite come highly recommended by the Department of Financial Institutions. Sims and games help kids to understand what it takes to budget, save, pay for college and buy a car.
Dancers boogie their way to bucks, and players help them to manage the money they’ve earned. It’s cool, it’s fun, and kids learn as they navigate their way through a few unexpected expenses that bust budgets wide open if they’re not careful.
Not all celebs are famed for their brains. In this game, your child has to act as a money manager for a very impractical celebrity. Whether or not they later reach celebrity status in real life, they will understand budgeting better.
Vampires are so cool, but they have to plan for an extended future, and being broke isn’t in the least bit cool. Kids learn not to bite off more than they can chew with this fun game of finance. Credit card debt and student loans are just two of the scenarios it covers.
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