3 Board Games That Can Teach Kids About Personal Finance

Three young children wearing glasses and playing with piles of money.

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The holidays will soon be upon us, and if your kids are like mine, they’re expecting gifts galore. In our household, we try not to go crazy with physical gifts. Usually, we choose experiences, like trips to the zoo or different museum outings, over items that take up space. But this year, because of the pandemic, we’re breaking with tradition (since, well, we can’t really go anywhere). We’re opting for things that will instead keep our children busy at home, and board games are ideal.

Board games aren’t only about entertainment — they can teach some important money lessons too. Here are a few to consider.

1. The Game of Life

Though the Game of Life requires quite a bit of luck, it also teaches children about important milestones they might encounter in adulthood — things like career choices, marriage, and retirement. Players aim to accumulate wealth while navigating hiccups along the way — sounds like being a grownup, right?

2. Monopoly

Monopoly is a solid introduction to real estate investing, and then some. Though the game is part luck, it’s also part strategy. Players need to learn to strike a balance between spending on property, houses, and hotels and saving enough to cover the rent when they land on other people’s squares. It’s also a good introduction to the concept of return on investment.

3. Payday

There’s perhaps no better mock money management experience out there than Payday. Players navigate ongoing bills, emergency expenses, windfalls, and other financial situations, all while putting their money to good use while they wait for their next pretend paycheck. It’s a great opportunity to teach children about the importance of budgeting and having savings.

Who says financial education can’t be fun?

As someone who writes about personal finance, I’m a firm believer in teaching children about managing money once they’re old enough. But admittedly, mine sometimes lose patience. That’s the beauty of turning those lessons into a game — my kids can learn a little something and enjoy themselves.

All these board games are a great way to impart some wisdom to your kids, but really, they’re just a starting point. In addition to playing these games, consider opening a savings account for each of your children. You could also show them a copy of your household budget so they can see what a real one looks like in practice. The more you talk about money and personal finance at home, the better equipped your children will be. It will enable them to manage their earnings responsibly once they’re out of the house and busy with careers of their own. And if you start off those lessons in board-game form, you’ll gift your children fond memories of sitting around the living room and duking it out for victory.

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