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The Money Messenger -- Money Games for Everyone
September 03, 2009


Welcome to Issue #022 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

Making Money Education Fun This month's articles focus on using games and other fun activities to teach kids and teens valuable money skills. Kids and teens (and maybe those of us who are a little older, too!) can learn new skills and facts better when they get to do it through games and simulations. Why not take advantage of that for money skills?

A reader's question on how to get his kids interested in learning basic money skills

What's next?

Note from Jennifer

As fall rolls in, there are plenty of things going on in everyone's house. Kids are going back to school, everyone is starting fall sports and teens are getting involved in a whole new year of school activities. Add to that teens looking for jobs to fit in with their school schedules and managing allowances to fit everyone's budget and the schedule is full.

At our house, the requests for money are on that list, too. We already have our first school fundraiser flyer - or the option to "just write a $25 check per child" if we'd prefer not to sell anything. Geez...$50! And it's only week #2.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the money stuff when requests like that come right on the heels of school supply and clothes shopping. Those things can make it hard to be upbeat when trying to teach your kids and teens about managing money - or even just basic money skills. That's where this month's articles on using money games as a great way to teach your kids and teens about money can be helpful.

Take a quick break from the fall activities and enjoy the rest of the newsletter!

Feature Article
Kid Money Games: Great Ways to Get Started

A great way to teach children about money is to use interactive games. Games can help teach basic money skills while adding an element of fun for everyone.

Depending on how old kids are, there are lots of different choices for games that teach money skills. Here are just a few ideas for all different ages.

  • Basic counting money games. Counting money is one of the first introductions kids have to money usually in the form of coins. Make it fun by coming up with easy games for kids. These can range from sorting coins into piles based on type to simple math games where your child figures out how many dimes and nickels make a quarter.
  • Games of recognition. Becoming familiar with how money looks or even basic symbols related to money can help kids of all ages feel more comfortable with it. One way to do that is by having them do simple memory games including money symbols. Money Match is just one example and can be downloaded here.
  • Making change games. Once kids have the basic values of coins mastered, they can start to understand how 25 pennies is the same as a quarter. They can also move into games that challenge them on making change which involve simple subtraction. If your kids are old enough, these games can include both coins and bills.
  • Online games. There are a number of games that are free and can be found online. These online money games include all of the types above as well as online lemonade stand games. These are often colorful and can move quickly enough to easily keep kids' interest.

With these ideas as well as tips on allowance basics and chores for kids suggestions, kids can be well on their way to a great money education and having fun at the same time.

Feature Article
Tween and Teen Money Games

Tweens and teens can often seem to be well past the typical games of younger kids. In fact, it may seem that money games won't work for preteens or teens. Typical games probably won't. What tweens and teens need are real-life ways examples and challenges to help them on the path to independence with their money. Consider these options:

  • The Game of Life. This classic game still has value. Even teens (that you can get to sit down) can enjoy it because it goes through all of life, including college and starting a family or business. Whether it is the board game version at the kitchen table or the downloadable version found here, the game of Life has great lessons for teens.
  • Be responsible for part of the family budget. Tackling a family budget that covers all household expenses is too much to ask of a tween or teen. Handling one specific area for a week, such as food, can be manageable and an eye-opening experience in balancing wants, needs and available money. If teens have had a chance to practice some money management with their own money, this can be the next step in their progress. If they haven't had to manage much on their own, this can still be a great way to introduce them to the budget decisions that adults have to make on a daily and weekly basis. You can make it more fun by setting goals of staying on budget or under budget by a certain amount. They could even keep any of the savings from coming in under budget. Of course, they also have to "play by the rules" and meet the food requirements of the family.
  • Stock market games and simulations. Whether through their schools or other options, preteens and teens can expand their knowledge, decision making and overall investment knowledge by working alone or with a team on a stock market game. These games usually have a set amount of time and a hypothetical cash account to invest. Many schools use The Stock Market Game to teach kids and teens life and money lessons. Other options include online free simulations such as this one from MarketWatch.
  • Challenge them to teach others. Whether within your family or with others, sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. Many investment clubs use this philosophy. For kids and teens the New York Stock Exchange is sponsoring a contest to get kids and teens to "...create a new product, idea or process that will excite and educate..." their friends. Check out the Financial Future Challenge here.
  • Start a business. Running a business with responsibilities and a budget can teach skills that can't be found in other ways. Teen businesses can be a step in that direction. It's not even necessary for the business to be that big or time-consuming. The point is to teach basic skills that can be used in their own budgeting, on future jobs and in their daily lives.

These are just a few ideas on money games that you can involve your tweens and teens in to get them learning more about money. Many of them may not seem like games but they are great simulations for the life they will face as they grow into adulthood. Having ways to educate them about money that don't seem like lectures or even specifically connected to their own money can be great ways to expand their knowledge. Click here for a start to teen money management.

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Robert writes that he is having a problem getting his 10 year-old daughter and 12 year-old son interested in learning basic money skills. They have been getting an allowance but aren't really required to pay for much out of it. Here's the advice:

This can be a particularly tough age to try to engage kids in anything that they think might be good for them. Plus, they often have no real reason to try to learn it. They don't have as many social wants as teens and often not as much freedom to spend money either. That can make it hard to motivate them to want to learn. Here are some basic steps to follow to get them interested.

First, figure out what type of money personality each tween has. Are they savers or spenders? Do they enjoy having money or does it matter to them at all? Understanding this can help you look at whether how you are trying to teach them about money is working with how they think. For example, if I try to talk to my daughter about saving, she is all ears because she really likes to save money. Trying to convince her to buy something is more of a challenge.

Second, ask them why they don't like or want to learn about money. You might be surprised by what you hear. Some kids don't want to have anything to do with money because they see their parents worrying about it. Other kids may attend school with someone who brags about money and they don't want to be like him. Of course, it could be as simple as them not liking math, but you won't know unless you ask.

Third, look at whether their current allowance structure is really working. The best reason for kids to get an allowance is so they can learn money management skills. If they aren't using their allowance for this, it's time for a change. It may be that their current allowances are not enough to really pay for much. Or it could be that they just aren't required to pay for much on their own yet. By changing one or both of these factors, kids get more responsibility and more chances to manage their own money (with plenty of guidance from their parents).

Fourth, play to their strengths and interests. If your daughter loves clothes, use clothing as a way to teach her about the costs of things and how much time and savings it can take to buy just one back-to-school outfit. You can do the same thing with movies, sporting events and sports equipment. They still may not get excited about the details but having something that they love to focus on can help.

You could try one, all or a combination of these with your kids as you develop your best approach for each one of them. It may take time and trial and error to figure out what works best for everyone. Be patient. The goal is to get them involved and excited about managing their own money and that can a few tries to get it right.

Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger

October is home to National Financial Planning week and National Kids' Goal Setting week (both during the week of October 5th). In honor of both of these weeks, October's issue will focus on setting financial goals as part of an overall a financial plan. Goal setting and financial planning can apply to kids, teens and families. Learn more about making this all work in next month's issue. If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at

Talk to you soon!

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