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Teaching your kids about finances is a key part of equipping them with the knowledge they need to be successful adults. It can be a challenge to get them to pay attention when they probably have a dozen things they'd rather be doing, however. You can make learning about money fun for your kids when you use these games to introduce concepts and general money rules without a boring lecture.
Many of these games are available online and for free. Connect with kids and teens to help them learn more about spending, saving, investing and budgeting.
1. Counting With Coins
Counting With Coins is a game from the U.S. Mint designed to familiarize kids with currency denominations. They can play games to:
- Practice matching coins to their value.
- "Shop" with coins.
- Add up money value.
Where to find: U.S. Mint
The classic real estate board game introduces young players to concepts such as mortgages, rent and bankruptcy.
Old-school board game editions come with paper money to practice counting with. But you can also get an updated electronic version of the game, which comes with debit cards and an ATM-like banking unit. Both can introduce kids to the concepts of making change or keeping track of electronic debit balances.
Where to find: Versions are available to play with a board game, computer software or app
3. How Money Smart Are You?
Developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the How Many Smart Are You? suite contains 14 games presented as an animated game show covering a variety of basic financial topics. Some include:
- Borrowing Basics
- Credit Reports and Scores
- Using Credit Cards
- Your Spending and Saving Plan
Kids can also earn certificates for each game they complete.
Where to find: FDIC.gov
4. The Game of Life
In the Game of Life, another classic game still popular with families, salary is an integral feature, dictating how much players can earn when landing on a payday space. But life events like having children and purchases like real estate immediately require players to calculate the costs out of their savings.
The Game of Life is a great way to learn about why having enough savings can help to deal with unpredictable events in life.
Where to find: Board game, computer software and app versions are available
5. Hit the Road
For kids and teens looking to get a realistic simulation of how it works to save and spend, Hit the Road is the game to play. Players take a cross-country road trip while managing their budget with cash and a loan.
This animated game teaches foresight for unexpected expenses, plus balancing costs with earnings.
Where to find: MyCreditUnion.gov
6. The Credit Score Game
From the Wall Street Journal, this game allows players to take on a variety of credit score profiles and see how life will work out for them. They can guesstimate how varied financial scenarios will raise or lower their credit score and see immediate results.
Where to find: Wall Street Journal
7. Virtual Stock Exchange
For teens and up, MarketWatch's Virtual Stock Exchange provides players with a virtual stock portfolio. They can buy and sell stocks to see how the market works. Games can last several months, giving players a chance to get familiar with the ups and downs of the market. They can also interact with other players on the platform.
Where to find: MarketWatch
8. The Nest Egg Game
Saving up a nest egg is one of the most important financial goals to pursue. In The Nest Egg Game, players navigate through a choose-your-own-adventure chain of scenarios. They try to protect their nest egg and keep it from getting "fried."
Players make decisions based on their age and current account balances. Good financial decisions are reflected in their assets and retirement calculators. Poor decisions are reflected in a debt tally.
Where to find: Wall Street Journal
How to Get Put Game Ideas Into Practice
It's smart to start talking to kids about money early on. But teaching money lessons isn't the only thing you can do to prepare your kids financially. Here are a few ideas.
- Save or invest money for them. Saving or investing cash for your children is one of the best ways to set them up for healthy finances. Accounts you can consider opening for them include:
- High-yield savings account: Park cash for a steady rate of return in a high-yield savings account. These accounts offer a relatively low return, but higher than with traditional savings accounts.
- 529 Plan: Save up for college by investing in a 529 education savings account.
- UGMA/UTMA: To start a custodial account in your child's name that will transfer to them at the age of majority, consider a Uniform Gift for Minors Act (UGMA) or a Uniform Transfers for Minors Act (UTMA) account.
- Roth IRA: If your teen is working a summer job, consider stashing some cash in a retirement account such as a Roth IRA for them. Compounding interest over the years until they retire 50 years from now can take $1,000 saved now to $29,000 at retirement given a return of 7%.
- Add them as an authorized user. If you feel you are a responsible credit user, adding your child as an authorized user to your card can help give your child's credit history a jump-start. They'll get credit for your responsible behavior, establish a credit report and potentially have good enough credit to get their own card when they're old enough.
- Freeze their credit. If your child's personal information has been stolen and used to apply for credit accounts, consider freezing their credit to prevent further identity theft. When you freeze their credit, you'll need to contact each credit bureau with the request. But remember to let your child know their credit is frozen as they approach adulthood. They'll need to unfreeze their credit before they can utilize their credit for things like loan approval or renting an apartment.
Having important financial communication with your kids can help them get off to the right start with money—and making it fun can help hold their attention. So get gaming and score some financial wins with your kids.