Games are a fun way to learn about virtually anything. Even if they’re not specifically geared toward education, there are a wide range of games that teach children about money. They can learn the uses and value of money, the fundamentals of how to manage it properly, and a beneficial way to view money as they get older.
The money mindset
It’s the most important thing anyone can learn about money, and most never do – the proper mindset for approaching money. They say that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” and it’s true in many ways. Money isn’t something to be loved. Money is a tool, and that’s all it can ever be. The money your children use in games like Monopoly or Life is just pieces of paper used to further your place on the game board. That’s exactly what money is in real life. It doesn’t have any inherent worth in itself; money won’t feed you or keep the rain off your head. What you do with the money is all that really counts.
Live within your means
While some games allow a player to receive credit, mortgage properties, or put off some form of payment until later, in real life it’s the fastest way to get into trouble. Games can simplify the concepts of debt and budgeting, which children will need to know in order to avoid financial issues in adulthood. Figuring out how much you need to get around the game board and still be able to play is a simpler version of determining how much money you need to make it through the month without going broke. Children can begin to foster an appreciation for the value of a dollar, and understand the importance of sticking to what you can afford. If you don’t master the concept, you can’t last until the end of the game.
There’s value in good investments
At some point in their lives, your children will almost certainly make some kind of investment. It may be a house, an education, a tool, time into a career, or traditional securities investments. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know how to assess the merits of an investment, and to understand how it can work to your benefit. In the game of Monopoly, you buy low-dollar properties just to put even more money into them. Other players may go around the board multiple times without ever landing on the property, but you get so much more for it when they do than if it were undeveloped. Similarly, many card games teach children to strategically arrange their hand for the best payoff in the future.
Investments must be made in order to improve game play in the future. It may be in the form of more income, in time-saving devices, or in the home or lifestyle you want. Children who do not learn the value of investing and the critical thinking that accompanies it run a high risk of financial instability. They may live their lives paycheck to paycheck, with the potential for complete financial ruin in the event of an incapacitating accident or job loss.
Think logically in hard times
No matter how well you play, there’s a good chance that you’re going to face tough times. Maybe another player is a little better than you, or you just landed on the wrong life event. In such times, both in games and in real life, it’s essential that a child be able to think critically to form the best plan to get back out of the hole. It’s not acceptable to simply get frustrated and upset, or to refuse to play because it’s not going your way. That way, you’ll always lose. Children can learn how to consider the value of all the tools and assets at their disposal, as well as how to reduce the risk or damage, and move forward in the game.
Familiarity with the nature of luck
Luck has two sides, and neither of them is ever reliable. Children should learn at a young age that luck comes and goes, and often has no logical reason for being good or bad – initially. Your opponent may do everything wrong and still excel in the short-term, and you may do everything right and still have excessive difficulty. You can never control or anticipate every factor in real life any more than you can foresee the roll of the dice. However, you can learn how to take advantage of the opportunities you have, and how to protect against negative eventualities. At the same time, it’s important to be able to accept others’ success gracefully, exercising good sportsmanship even when you’re doing badly.
While these lessons become automatically ingrained in terms of the game, make sure to take the time to help your children apply them to real life. At a very young age, children understand that games aren’t life. Because of this, it’s up to you to show them which parts can be accepted as valuable life lessons.