Who says that you can’t learn anything about money management from playing games? My first lesson came when I was about seven and my older cousins invited me to play a game of cards. They promised me that I could win $20 (hey, don’t laugh – it was a lot back then!). All I had to do was put in my entire life savings ($5 at that time) to join their game.
Needless to say, I was hustled out of my life savings. Lesson learned – never use your entire life savings in games of chance.
The only difference between playing “games” and a kid and as a grownup is this – the stakes are MUCH higher when you mess up as an adult. Committing a “mistake” today that you could have learned from 20 years earlier as a child can be very costly.
So help your kids learn about money management earlier by introducing them to these games:
The Classic Property Investment Game – Monopoly
Focus: Property Investment
Skills Taught: Investment diversification, investment strategy, communication, negotiation, budget management, risk management
Age Level: 8+
Did you really think I would start an article on games that teach you about financial management without naming Monopoly? It’s a game that has exposed millions of people all over the world to the wonders and frustrations of property investment.
You might even have a copy of this board game collecting dust in your bomb shelter/storage room. If you don’t already own Monopoly, you should buy it not just because it teaches your kids good financial management, but because it will add a little more happiness to their childhood!
The whole point of the game is simple:
a) Select a cute little game piece and receive $1,500 in Monopoly money to start with
b) Roll the dice and decide whether to purchase/develop any property you land on
c) Charge rent to any players unfortunate enough to land on your property and hustle property away from players who are low on cash
d) Accumulate enough wealth through the purchase, rental, negotiation, and sale of property to destroy bankrupt your opponents
With property investment and development becoming one of Singapore’s favorite (and most expensive) pastimes, it’s not a bad idea to teach your kids about it while having fun at the same time.
The Stock Market Game – Daytrader
Focus: Stock Market Investment
Skills Taught: Investment diversification, investment strategy, communication, critical thinking, budget management, risk management, retirement planning
Age Level: 10+
True, there are plenty of free stock market simulators out there. In fact, Wall Street Survivor is a great one that’ll make you feel like you’re building up your investment portfolio on an e-trader. The only problem is that it’s not really geared towards kids – it’s boring.
That’s where Daytrader comes in. This Kickstarter project was created to help educate people both young and old in a fun and engaging manner. Yeah, it’s a bit a pricey (which board game isn’t?), but like Monopoly, it’s a game that’s so easy and fun that you can actually play it with your kids.
The whole point of the game is simple:
a) Get a “job” with a company on the game board
b) Build up cash from your job to invest in the companies you work for
c) Accumulate enough capital through your investments to be the first player to “retire”
The great thing about this game is that it involves many of the same risks involved in dealing in the real stock market, and teaches your kids many important investment lessons (ex. buying low and selling high) that’ll serve them well into their adult years.
With investments being about the only way to build up your savings faster than the 2.5% interest rate offered by your CPF Ordinary Account (OA), it’s a great game that’ll teach your kids the importance of growing their money and planning for retirement.
The All-in-One for “Mature” Teens – GTA V
Focus: Property Investment, Business Ownership, Stock Market Investment
Skills Taught: Investment diversification, investment strategy, conflict resolution, budget management, business management, risk management, market research
Age Level: 17+
I don’t want you buying this just to come back and berate me for recommending a game that has as much violence and cursing as a Tarantino film. So please consider my warning that it’s a game for teens 17 and older (who, let’s face it, have probably seen worse in the shows/movies they watch daily).
Great! Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into what GTA V is all about. Basically, you take control of three characters of varying criminal and ethnic backgrounds whose sole intention is to earn enough money to “set them up for life.” Of course, 70% of the ways they earn money are highly illegal – but it’s how you manage those earnings that counts.
The whole point of the game is simple – just to make a whole lot of money through various means (mostly illegal) and try to manage it well:
a) Earn cash from pulling off heists that mirror some Hollywood favorites (Heat, Fast and the Furious, etc.), but the real trick is learning to manage your earnings wisely.
b) Earn cash from investing in the stock market (with the help of some occasional “insider trading” info), but you’ll need to monitor trends and check market “news” to make better investment decisions.
c) Earn cash from owning properties and businesses, but the challenge comes from ensuring your property investments continue to generate steady income.
d) Accumulate enough capital to stop playing eventually (retire), or live vicariously through the game’s characters so you can buy fast cars, private jets, or businesses.
Some of the “skills” this game teaches might be lost in the hours of fun your kids will probably have committing vehicular manslaughter and damaging property while driving around in stolen vehicles or committing “heists.”
But the point is that in this “virtual” world, good money management is a necessity. And earning money (legally) through property, stock market, and business investments plays a big part in your “virtual” success.
What other games help kids improve their understanding of money management? Share your experience on Facebook! And to find even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!
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