Good money games for kids not only engage kids but teach them personal finance concepts (and habits) they will remember for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many “money games” don’t necessarily teach kids essential financial literacy concepts like how to save, spend, budget or invest.
Quality money games for kids are hard to find and it’s important to be aware of which ones will actually enhance your child’s financial education.
1. Coin sorting (Ages 3-7)
Money and coin value. Have your child sort a bunch of coins into piles of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies (if you have Canadian money). For kids who can count: have them move coins into groups that add up to $1 each.
2. Store (Ages 3-8+)
Every product has a monetary value. Set up a store for kids at home using paper money, like monopoly money or homemade bills and coins. Assign a value to toys in the store and give your child a specific amount of money to spend. Give them opportunities to get change back for items and see if they can figure out how much was spent.
3. Show me the Price (Ages 5+)
Budgeting, spending and responsibility. From the Smart Kids Launchpad site comes a game that teaches kids that every item you buy costs money. Created by finance gurus Dave Ramsey, author of Total Money Makeover and daughter Rachel Cruze, author of Smart Money Smart Kids.
Have your kid get five grocery items. Write each item’s cost on index cards and place them face down in front of each corresponding item. Your child then writes down what they think is the price. Then, reveal! After, add the total cost of the items and take time to explain how much groceries can cost for the family.
1. Cashflow for Kids (Ages 6+)
Escape the Rat Race. Kids learn to escape the “rat race” by building assets to create income. They learn about liabilities, expenses, cash flow and net worth. Money coming in must be greater than money going out (cash flow). The neat thing is that kids learn that making lots of money, like a doctor or lawyer, means higher expenses. Depending on how you manage your income and expenses, you could still end up with less net worth or cash flow than a janitor!
Based on author Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Kid Smart Kid book to help parents understand how to create wealth and teach financial literacy to their kids.
2. Payday (Ages 8+)
Money Management. A childhood favorite of mine, I loved collecting my paycheck each “month” and building up my stash of savings. The board game itself is set up as a calendar with days you can land on where you might have debt payments, unexpected expenses, or cash windfalls or profits. Kids get familiar with how to budget and have a chance to negotiate and “make deals” with other players.
3. The Queen’s Necklace (8+)
Supply and demand. A card game where you are a jeweler trying to make a profit by buying gems you think will be fashionable and selling them at market price. Set in pre-Revolutionary France, the card gems and jewelry are colorful and attractive. The player with the most profit wins the game. Queen’s Necklace is a simple game that relies not only on luck, but on strategy and memory.
4. Agricola (12+)
Economic and resource management. A fun game with varying levels of complexity that kids will enjoy. You start off a poor farmer who makes decisions using your resources on your farm to first build and expand your house and provide for your family. There is a lot to do on the farm and many actions you can take (breeding sheep, buying appliances, having another child, etc.). The winner is the player with the most points depending on type of farmhouse, size of family, amount of fields, pastures and stables, livestock and produce.
1. Jesse’s Ice Cream Stand (Varying levels of difficulty for ages 5-17)
It’s all about cash flow. From the RichKidSmartKid site comes a game that presents economic and finance concepts like supply and demand, income and profit. Other games on this site, like Reno’s Debt Dilemma are a rare find, introducing kids to leverage and how it can be used in business.
2. The Great Piggy Bank Adventure (Ages 8-12)
Interest on investments. Lovely interactive online money game for kids that incorporates finance and investing principles such as asset allocation, diversification and investment interest, through easy to understand trivia cards. Kids will have fun setting their savings goals for items like pets, clothes and toys as they play. Colorful game created by Disney in partnership with T. Rowe Price, a global investment management firm. Disney quality animation, music and presentation brings life to an otherwise boring topic. Complete with financial tips, glossary and game strategy suggestions.
3. Escape from Barter Island (K to 9)
Trading and bartering. Kids learn about bartering, how money is used, and the exchange of goods and services. Kids get to travel to different islands where they must barter goods (like oranges and cherries) with the inhabitants to get the goods they need.
4. Farm Blitz (12+)
Managing earnings and debt. A quality interactive game that teaches kids how to run a business (in this case a farm), through managing finances and building net worth. The ultimate goal is to pay off the farm and reach the “Farm God” status. Kids will love “tending” to their crops and trying to avoid natural disasters, like tornadoes while gaining an understanding of financial terms like interest on loans.
Not all money games for kids are made equal. Choose high-value games that are educational and teach not only math skills, but financial concepts about business, investing, or real world situations. Then use the opportunity for discussion with your child. The returns will be enormous.