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The Power of Play: How Games Can Teach Kids About Finance

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Hey parents! As an educator passionate about teaching personal finance to kids, I've seen firsthand how important it is for our little ones to learn about money management early on. But let's be real – talking about finances can seem a bit dry, especially to young minds. That's where the magic of games comes in! In this post, we're diving into how you can use the power of play to teach your kids vital financial skills. And trust me, it's not just fun; it's effective!


Table of Contents


African American dad teaching daughter to budget with piggy bank

Understanding the Basics of Financial Literacy

What is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is a critical life skill that's about much more than just understanding money. It's about making informed and effective decisions regarding the use and management of money. In today's world, where financial decisions are more complex than ever, it's crucial for kids to get a head start.

Financial literacy for kids means teaching them the basics of budgeting, saving, and making wise spending choices. It's about helping them understand concepts like the value of money, the importance of saving for the future, and the consequences of debt. Essentially, it's equipping them with the tools they need to navigate the financial aspects of their lives successfully.

Games as Teaching Tools

Now, how do we make these concepts appealing to kids? Enter the world of games! Games have the fantastic ability to turn complicated subjects into engaging, enjoyable lessons. They provide a safe and controlled environment where kids can experiment with financial decisions and see the consequences of their choices without any real-world risks.

For instance, a game might allow kids to manage a budget for an imaginary trip or business, teaching them about resource allocation and prioritization. Through games, kids can learn about saving up for big purchases, the importance of emergency funds, and the basics of investing, all while having a great time.

Key Points:

  • Financial Literacy in Depth: It encompasses understanding the value of money, making smart financial decisions, and grasping the importance of saving and wise spending.

  • Essential Concepts: At its core, financial literacy for kids includes budgeting, saving, and understanding the impact of their financial decisions.

  • Games as Effective Educational Tools: By presenting financial concepts in a fun and interactive way, games make learning about finance engaging and memorable for kids. They simplify complex concepts and provide practical, hands-on experiences in a risk-free environment.

What's your favorite way to teach your kids about money?

  • Through games and apps

  • Real-life experiences

  • Allowance and income management

  • Educational resources

Selecting the Right Games

Criteria for Choosing Financial Games for Kids

When it comes to picking the right financial games for your children, there are a few key factors to consider. The game should be:

  • Age-Appropriate: Ensure the game matches your child’s cognitive and emotional development level. Younger children might benefit from simpler games that teach basic concepts of money, while older kids can handle more complex topics like investment and economics.

  • Engaging: The game should capture your child's interest. Look for games with colorful graphics, relatable themes, or interactive elements that keep them coming back for more.

  • Educational Value: While fun is critical, the game should have a clear educational purpose. It should teach financial concepts in a way that is understandable and retainable.

  • Replay Value: Games that offer different outcomes or scenarios each time they are played can provide ongoing learning opportunities.

  • Family Involvement: Consider games that allow for family participation. It's a great way to spend quality time together while educating your children about finances.

Examples of Great Financial Games

  • Board Games:

    • Monopoly: This classic game teaches money management, property investment, and the impact of random financial events.

    • The Game of Life: It simulates various life events, including career choices, college, loans, and retirement, offering a broader perspective on financial planning.

  • Online Games and Apps:

    • Bankaroo: Designed as a virtual bank for kids, this app teaches money management, budgeting, and saving.

    • "iAllowance" is a digital allowance tracker and financial education app that teaches kids about money management by allowing them to earn, save, and track their allowance through completing assigned chores and tasks.

  • Educational Websites:

    • Biz Kid$: "Biz Kid$" is an educational website offering a plethora of resources, games, and videos focused on teaching kids about money management, entrepreneurship, and the basics of economics in an engaging and interactive manner.

    • Practical Money Skills: "Practical Money Skills" is a financial literacy website that provides a range of games and educational resources aimed at teaching children and teenagers essential money management skills through interactive learning.

Key Points:

  • Select Games Wisely: It's crucial to choose games that are not only fun but also align with your child's age and learning objectives.

  • Diversity in Game Selection: Incorporate a mix of board games, online games, and apps to provide a well-rounded financial education.

  • Unique Learning Opportunities: Each game offers a unique angle on financial education, from basic budgeting and saving to more complex concepts like investing and economic decision-making.

Excited child learning about finances through games

Learning Through Play - Game-Based Activities

Activity Ideas for Financial Learning

Incorporating financial lessons into playtime can be both effective and enjoyable. Here are some creative activities to help your kids learn about money management through play:

  • Budgeting Bonanza: Set up a pretend market at home where kids can 'shop' with play money. This activity teaches them to budget within a limit and make spending choices. For instance, they could have a budget to plan a pretend party, teaching them to prioritize and manage resources effectively.

  • Investment Adventure: Use board games or online simulators to teach investment basics. Games like 'Cashflow for Kids' or online stock market simulators can be great tools. These games can help kids understand concepts like risk, return, and the value of long-term planning.

  • Entrepreneurial Endeavors: Encourage your kids to start a small, supervised business venture, like a lemonade stand or a craft sale. This hands-on experience teaches them about earning, investing in their business, and the value of hard work.

  • Savings Challenge: Create a savings challenge where kids set a goal to buy something they want. They can earn money through chores or small tasks and learn about saving and delayed gratification.

Making It Fun and Engaging

The secret to successful financial education through play is making it fun and relevant. Here’s how:

  • Tailor Activities to Interests: If your child loves a particular hobby or subject, incorporate financial lessons into that context.

  • Family Involvement: Make these activities a family affair. Not only does this reinforce the lessons, but it also adds a layer of fun and togetherness.

  • Celebrate Achievements: When your child reaches a financial goal or demonstrates understanding, celebrate their success. This reinforces positive behavior and learning.

Key Points:

  • Diverse Activities: Offer a range of activities, from pretend play to real-life entrepreneurial experiences.

  • Practical Learning: Activities like 'Budgeting Bonanza' and 'Investment Adventure' provide practical, hands-on experience with managing money.

  • Engagement is Key: Keep activities fun, tailored to your child’s interests, and involve the whole family to maximize engagement and learning.

By combining play with education, you create a powerful tool for teaching financial literacy. These activities not only impart crucial life skills but also help in building confidence, decision-making abilities, and a sense of responsibility in your children.

The My First Finance Books teaching the basics of personal finance

Beyond Games - Everyday Learning Opportunities

Reinforcing Lessons in Daily Life

After establishing a foundation with games, you can further reinforce financial lessons through everyday activities and real-life experiences. This approach helps to contextualize what they've learned in a more practical, real-world setting.

  • Allowance Management: Implement a regular allowance system where kids earn money through chores. This teaches them about earning, saving, and budgeting in a real-world context.

  • Grocery Shopping on a Budget: Involve your kids in grocery shopping with a set budget. They can help create the shopping list, compare prices, and make decisions on what to buy within the budget.

  • Savings Goals for Big Purchases: Encourage your children to save for larger items they want, like a new toy or a bike. This teaches them about goal setting, patience, and the satisfaction of earning something over time.

  • Charitable Giving: Introduce the concept of charitable giving and encourage them to allocate a portion of their savings or allowance to a cause they care about.

The Role of Parents

As a parent, your involvement is key to reinforcing these financial lessons. By actively participating and guiding your children through these real-life financial decisions, you're helping them apply what they've learned from games and activities to everyday situations. Your behavior and attitudes towards money also serve as a model for your children, so demonstrating good financial habits is just as important as teaching them.

Success Stories

Many parents have shared success stories about how integrating financial lessons into everyday activities has positively impacted their children’s understanding and attitude towards money. These stories serve as a testament to the effectiveness of this approach in building financial responsibility and literacy from a young age.

Key Points:

  • Practical Application: Everyday activities like allowance management and grocery shopping are perfect opportunities to apply financial lessons in a real-world context.

  • Parental Involvement: Your active participation and modeling of good financial habits significantly reinforce these lessons.

  • Real-World Impact: Integrating financial education into daily life has been shown to positively influence children’s financial understanding and behavior.

By extending financial education beyond games and into daily life, you're providing your children with a comprehensive understanding of money management. This approach not only teaches them about finances but also prepares them for future financial independence and responsibility.

A family playing a budgeting game

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Strategies

Assessing Understanding and Progress

Regularly evaluating your child's understanding of financial concepts is crucial in tailoring the learning process to their needs. This can be done through casual conversations, observing their decision-making during games, or through real-life scenarios like handling their allowance.

  • Feedback Sessions: After playing a financial game or completing a money-related task, have a discussion with your child about what they learned. Ask them questions to gauge their understanding and encourage them to ask questions too.

  • Observation: Pay attention to how your child applies financial lessons in real life. For instance, notice how they manage their allowance or make spending decisions.

  • Goal-Setting and Tracking: If your child has set financial goals (like saving for a toy), monitor their progress. This helps in understanding their grasp of saving and budgeting concepts.

Adapting Teaching Methods

As your child grows, their capacity to understand more complex financial concepts increases. Be ready to introduce more advanced topics and games suited to their evolving understanding. For example, teenagers might be ready for discussions about investing, credit, and even basic concepts of taxes.

  • Age-Appropriate Adjustments: As kids grow, transition from simple saving and budgeting games to more complex simulations involving investing or running a business.

  • Incorporate Current Events: Use real-world events, like a news story about the stock market, to discuss and teach relevant financial concepts.

  • Utilize Technology: Leverage apps and online resources designed for older kids and teenagers that offer more advanced financial education.

Further Learning Resources

Encourage ongoing learning by providing access to additional resources. Libraries, online courses, and financial literacy workshops for kids can offer more in-depth understanding and a broader perspective on personal finance.

  • Books and Educational Material: Introduce age-appropriate books that discuss money management in more detail.

  • Online Resources: Direct older kids to websites and online courses that offer advanced lessons in finance.

  • Workshops and Clubs: Look for local workshops or clubs focused on financial education for young people.

Key Points:

  • Regular Assessment: Engage in feedback sessions and observe real-life application to assess your child's understanding of financial concepts.

  • Evolving Strategies: Adapt teaching methods to suit your child's growing comprehension and interest levels.

  • Continued Education: Provide access to further educational resources to deepen and broaden their financial knowledge.

Monitoring and adjusting your approach to teaching financial literacy is vital for your child's ongoing learning. It ensures that the lessons remain relevant, engaging, and effective, setting the foundation for a lifetime of sound financial decision-making.


There you have it – a guide to using the power of play to teach your kids about finance. Remember, finance games for kids are more than just a way to pass the time; they're tools to prepare your kids for a financially savvy future. So, let's make learning about money fun and set our kids up for success!

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Thanks for joining me on this journey to make financial literacy fun and accessible for our kids. Here’s to raising the next generation of finance-savvy adults!


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