If you want your kid to stop whining for the newest electronic device or designer jeans, start teaching him about the value of money and budgeting. If he's got his own allowance, he can save for his wants on his own. Kids are never too young, or too old, to start appreciating the value of the dollar. Help guide them through financial management literacy by introducing them to interactive games that teach budgeting skills.
1. Board Games
The classic Game of Life has many more recent versions, but kids still learn the basics of budgeting in the board game as they race around the board and realize the cost of buying a house, purchasing insurance and supporting a family. Moneywise Kids teaches kids basic skills like counting money, making change and managing money. The manufacturer recommends the game for kids 7 and older.
2. Classroom Games
If you want to recommend games for your kids' math teachers or economics teachers, some games are made for a classroom setting. Finance in the Classroom (financeintheclassroom.org) features a variety of financial games, including "Grocery Shopping," in which students have to stay on a budget while getting a variety of items on their list; "Mad Money," in which kids see if they can gain enough money to buy the things that they want; and "Lemonade Stand," in which kids see how much they can make for a month of work.
3. Online Games
A variety of online games teach budgeting skills, including Celebrity Calamity (financialentertainment.org/play/celebritycalamity.html), which starts by kids picking a job and then working, collecting money and shopping for a celebrity while players see a running tab of their bank account balance. Rich Kid Smart Kid (richkidsmartkid.com) features budgeting games like "Reno's Dilemma" that has different versions for kids in kindergarten up to 12th grade. Kids then have to work to pay off debt and to participate in contests. Financial Football (practicalmoneyskills.com/games/trainingcamp/) can motivate athletic kids by asking them financial questions and rewarding them with scoring touchdowns after so many correct answers. For a more practical lesson, kids can play Kids Math Games Online (kidsmathgamesonline.com) to take a grocery shopping trip and try to spend as little money as possible. For a practical game for teens and tweens, It All Adds Up (www.italladsup.org) lets kids pick a goal, like college or a car, and goes through a series of questions so that they can see the real cost of their goals.
4. Video Games
When kids don't want to listen to parents, video games can fill in the gaps and teach kids important money lessons. Games that are focused on kids opening and running a business can teach budgeting. Likewise, racing games in which kids participate in races to earn upgrades to their vehicle or the ability to buy better cars can also teach budgeting since kids can't get the upgrades until they have enough cash on hand. Kids can also play games based around creating a city to see that the more work they do, the more money they will receive to buy additional buildings or services.
5. Other Games
For a more hands-on approach, try giving your kids a few dollars and making a game out of it. For example, give each child $5 and have them try to get the best values at a yard sale or the most items at the mall. Offer the winner a prize to motivate them further. The goal is to teach them that even a small amount of money can last. Another option is to have kids come up with budget entertainment ideas that fall under a certain dollar amount so that the family can spend time together without breaking the bank.
- Financial Entertainment.org: Celebrity Calamity
- PBS Kids.org: Mad Money Flash
- Rich Kid Smart Kid: Reno's Dilemma
- Practical Money Skills.com: Games
- Kids Math Games Online: Money Games
- It All Adds Up.org: Car Buying
- Hasbro: The Game of Life
- Finance in the Classroom.org: Interactives for Kids
- TD Monthly: Moneywise Kids
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images