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5 Best Educational Board Games for Money Management

By Sarita Harbour

family board gameBoring educational material on money, credit, and investments can actually discourage people of all ages from learning valuable information that can help them make wise financial decisions. Fortunately, money management lessons masquerading as games can make learning about finance easy and even fun.

Some of today’s best money management board games have been popular for years. Continual revisions to older games keep them relevant to today’s financial world while still teaching players how to build wealth and minimize debt. From well-known games like Monopoly, to the newer but wildly popular Cashflow 101, there are a number of fun, educational board games available to help people develop and master their financial management skills.

Top Board Games That Teach Financial Literacy

1. Cashflow 101

Looking for a cash flow board game? Robert T. Kiyosaki of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” fame created Cashflow 101 to teach players how to take charge of their personal finances, understand cash flow principles, and develop the confidence to make their own investing and real estate decisions. The most recent edition of Cashflow 101 includes improved color, graphics, and instructions.

Number and Ages of Players: Cashflow 101 is best suited for two to six  players ages 14 and older. The Cashflow for Kids game can be played by kids as young as six years old.

What Cashflow 101 Teaches About Finance: The Cashflow family of games provides more detailed material than many other money management and cash flow board games, and is an excellent learning tool for all ages. The Cashflow 101 games seek to teach personal finance lessons, including:

  • Basics of investing
  • The difference between assets and liabilities
  • The importance of understanding a financial statement
  • Basic personal accounting
  • Advanced investment techniques, such as short-selling stocks, puts and calls, and real estate investment strategies (with the Cashflow 202 supplementary)

Cost: The Cashflow 101 board game sells for $85, and can be purchased directly from the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” website. A basic free web version requires registration for online play. Cashflow 202 is a supplementary package to the original board game available for $50.

cashflow board game

2. Monopoly

One of the most well-loved board games of all time, Monopoly is available across countries in many versions and languages. First appearing in the early 1930s, Monopoly players move around the board, collecting cash and navigating situations assigned by “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards. Buy property, mortgage it, collect rent, and erect buildings while trying to avoid being thrown in jail and running out of money. The winner is the player with the highest net worth determined by property and cash.

Number and Ages of Players: Monopoly requires two to six players, and is best suited for those ages eight and older.

What Monopoly Teaches About Personal Finance: Monopoly teaches players money management and the impact of financial and investment choices and situations, such as:

  • Managing cash or financial transactions
  • Dealing with financial blows, such as taxes and emergencies
  • Balancing cash flow by earning income (collecting cash as you pass “Go”) and saving
  • Financial negotiation as cash dwindles and real estate holdings grow, giving players the opportunities to negotiate private mortgages to acquire more cash
  • Basic financial math skills
  • Investing in and improving real estate

Cost: The original version of the Monopoly board game and its many variations are widely available in department stores and online. It currently retails for $18.99, with the newer Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition priced at $24.99.

monopoly board game

3. The Game of Life

Originally created more than 150 years ago, The Game of Life has entertained and educated families for generations. Like Monopoly, it is now available in a variety of versions and has been revised several times. You win the game by accumulating  the largest net worth while choosing paths that simulate real-life choices, such as family size and career.

Number and Ages of Players: You can play The Game of Life with two to six players, or enjoy the “Twists and Turns” version with two to four players. Both versions are suitable for players ages nine and older.

What the Game of Life Teaches About Personal Finance: The Game of Life is a great way to introduce children to the complexities of financial decisions and situations they will come across in real life, such as:

  • The effect of education and career choices on income
  • The cost of compound interest and loan payments
  • The effects of losing a job, having children, and getting sued
  • The impact of taxes, debt, and overspending on net worth
  • The importance of early investing

Cost: The basic version of The Game of Life board game retails for $23.99.

game of life

4. Payday

With Payday, you can learn how to budget and manage your money on a monthly basis. Players take turns moving around the 31-day calendar board and dealing with loan payments, bills, unexpected expenses, cash windfalls, and other financial circumstances until they get their paychecks on the last day of the month. Payday can be played for as many “months” as players choose – establish this before you start the game or you could play for days. Win the game by having the highest net worth when you call it quits.

Number and Ages of Players: You can play Payday with two to four players, ages eight and older.

What Payday Teaches About Personal Finance: Payday teaches players how to allocate paychecks to meet monthly expenses, and develops skills such as:

  • Evaluating cash flow
  • Totaling expenses, including bill payments and fixed and unexpected expenses, to determine how much money can be spent in the month
  • Making loan payments
  • Bill paying
  • Budgeting basics
  • Understanding the need to make monthly savings contributions and create an emergency fund

Cost: The traditional Payday board game is available for $17.99. If you prefer more of a challenge, try the  Big Payday version at $34.99, a two-level customizable game that allows you to add events and change the number of days in each month.

payday game

5. Charge Large

Charge Large was designed in 2007 by two young entrepreneurs and promptly sold to Hasbro, which released it in late 2009. At first glance, this game appears to promote the rampant use of credit, as players start out by receiving a gold credit card and must strive to upgrade to  the elusive black credit card. However, the winner must also have no debt and $2,500 in cash, which challenges players to manage credit responsibly while they navigate the board and build wealth.

Number and Ages of Players: Charge Large can be played with two to four players ages 12 and older.

What Charge Large Teaches About Personal Finance: Charge Large teaches players how to use credit responsibly while building net worth. It emphasizes the following points:

  • Responsible credit use builds your credit rating, giving access to higher credit limits
  • Racking up credit debt without saving and investing can create a financial disaster
  • Using credit often means making interest payments
  • Increasing credit card limits tempts overspending

Cost: The Charge Large board game lists for $19.99.

charge large game

Final Word

Any one of these games can make a great holiday or birthday gift to people of all ages. If you have kids, introduce them to these games at a young age for a fun family activity that can help you impart financial responsibility.

To keep your costs down, avoid buying brand new board games at retail stores. Instead, buy them used or at a discount online from Amazon or eBay, or even directly from the manufacturer’s website. You can even try garage salesconsignment and thrift stores, flea markets, and swap meets for super cheap games.

What is your favorite financial board game? What others can you suggest?

Sarita Harbour
Sarita Harbour is a full-time writer with over 12 years of experience in financial services. Her career included roles as a small business finance consultant, senior personal banker, and financial advisor. During her successful career in banking she assisted clients with personal and business credit and retirement planning. Sarita is a regular contributor to several personal finance and small business websites, and is passionate about money management for individuals, families, and entrepreneurs. She is the author of "How to Build Your Brand With Pinterest" and "Instagram: How a Photo-Sharing App Achieved a $1 Billion Buyout in 18 Months."

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  • http://www.onesmartdollar.com/ Sean @ One Smart Dollar

    I used to love both The Game of Life and Monopoly when I was young. They are a great way to incorporate something fun with learning about numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/1099Mom 1099 Mom

    I love this list! We are big fans of Monopoly, and I adored the Game of Life growing up. Thanks for the reminder that play = learning!

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