Research shows that parents and caregivers have the most influence on their children’s financial knowledge. So, yes that means that you have the power ensure your child has a bright financial future. You don’t need to rely on your child’s school or even someone else to teach this stuff. You can do it. I think games are a great and easy way to help teach financial education. Now that my son is almost 4 and is a walking talking energizer bunny –I am thankful to have a few games downloaded on my phone –just to slow him down! I limit his screen-time but when he does get my phone I try to get him to play as many educational games as possible.
So I am a sucker for a bargain-so we will focus on the FREE GAMES for now. So here is my list of 3 really cool financial education games for you and your child. All of these games are created by financial literacy non-profit organization, Commonwealth. This organization has been in the financial education space for a long time, I remember when they were operating under their original name -Door Ways to Dreams. I like Commonwealth since they get it –the believe that financial capability doesn’t have to be boring at all. In fact it can be fun and engaging. Check out all of Commonwealth's financial education games here.
FARM BLITZ (FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS AND UP)
This game is really quite adorable with cute little characters and a fun backdrop play area. In the game, you inherit a farm from your crazy uncle. During game play, your main task is to harvest vegetables from your farm to earn money. However your earnings also need to used to pay off the loans you had to take out to buy seeds for your new farm --and you are expected to save a portion of your earning for to build an emergency fund. Your loans are represented by bunnies that multiply over time (via finance charges). The game teaches the concepts of compounding interest on a loan and the importance of saving for emergencies. Although the content of the game seems complex, playing it is simple. To earn money, you line up three of the same growing veggies, but please beware because in the middle of gameplay, a tornado can blow through your farm, destroy your crops and drain your account. Crops that go unmatched for too long wilt and die and each round is timed. When I played the first time, I was lining up veggies like a champ (and earning lots of money on my farm) –but each time I saw a new bunny appear (which is a loan), I winced! The game really does help you and your kids feel the “burn” of debt. At the end of each round you get an account balance to see the worth of your farm, your debt load and the amount in your emergency fund.
Commonwealth partnered with Capital One to share this game with high schoolers around the nation. Even though the game is being targeted at the high school level – it is simple enough for elementary school children to play and enjoy (with adult supervision). The game is cute, fast paced and your kids are sure to enjoy it. Note, I was not able to get the +/- on the savings area to work when I played on my phone. So for that reason, I think this is a great pick for a tablet.
CON 'EM IF YOU CAN (FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS)
Con Em If You Can is the perfect game for middle school boys. It is a scenario based game -so it is complex enough to hold their attention, yet simple enough so that they don’t get too discouraged. The game is about spotting financial fraud. It was developed by Commonwealth and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. In the game you are the bad guy, an expert con artist, who has recently moved to Shady Grove town, a town untouched by greed, or deception. Your job is to use dirty financial tricks to dupe people out of their money and avoid getting caught by the Fraud Fighting Agency. The game cleverly introduces the player to the myriad of financial fraud schemes that out there. Note – the game takes up a TON of space on your phone 160 MB—so you might have to delete some existing apps. I recommend that you download the game on a tablet so you can get the full benefit of the cool graphics in the game.
RAMP IT UP (FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS)
Ramp It Up is gamified college readiness mobile app for high school students that helps them navigate the world of college financing options. In the game, each player is an athlete getting ready to “compete”on their college campus. Before competing, each player has to train by completing the various scenarios related to debt decisions, securing financial aid, and analyzing the best college return on investment. I like this game since most parents don’t even think about college financing options until they have a high schooler with one foot out of the door. That is way too late to start thinking about these items. This game was recognized as a promising and pioneering innovation by the US Treasury Department’s Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund.