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Making Sense of Money For Kids – All While Having Fun

Posted Nov 05 2009 10:00pm

Money makes the world go round, yet the best things in life are free. A penny saved is a penny earned, but you get what you pay for. Kids get conflicting messages about money – and as the current economic situations proves, they’re not the only ones left baffled.

Now’s a great time to teach your kids some financial smarts. You don’t have to try explaining mortgages and defaulted loans, of
course, but you can help your children learn rich lessons about nickels and dimes and buying and borrowing. They may even gain some valuable insights into such abstractions as, well, value. As you’ll see, our lessons about moola are disguised as cool games and easy family strategies, which makes using them one investment that’s sure to pay off.

Disney FamilyFun has the activities, games, and strategies for teaching kids financial smarts, including:

*Let’s Talk about Money: Conversations to Go: The Game That Questions Money, is a worthwhile investment for your family – the game offers a mix of nuts-and-bolts problems (”How much do you think it costs to have a dog for one year?”) and more philosophical inquiries (”Does money buy happiness? How long does it last?”)

*Home Shopping: Create “Mom’s Snack Bar” and stock with healthy snacks. With borrowed money, kids can pick out and “buy” their
favorites. Make the money math more complicated as skills improve!

*A Guessing Game That Pays Off: Exercise your kid’s math muscle with a guessing game that can be played virtually anywhere. Hold a handful of change behind your back and reveal both the number of coins and the total sum: “I’ve got six coins that equal fifty-four cents.” Players must guess the exact coins in your hand (two quarters and four pennies); tailor the level of difficulty to a player’s age.

*Members of the Bank of Mom: Keep a small notebook to record a running balance for each child’s allowance. Track deposits (allowance and birthday gifts) and deductions (expenses and purchases). The “Bank of Mom” will teach kids how to budget and be prepared for spending and saving in our cashless society.

*Raising Savvy Savers: Put the kids in charge of clipping
coupons. As incentive, let them keep half of whatever money the family
saves, whether it’s 50 cents on laundry detergent or 50 dollars on a
theme-park admission. Kids will quickly becoming smart shoppers!

*The Value of a Dollar: Small change adds up fast in this quick game involving money and nice but no gambling. Players take turns
rolling dice and taking coins from a pile in the middle of a table according to what they roll. As players amass money, they must trade in small coins for bigger ones; the first to collect one dollar wins.

*Go on an Imaginary Shopping Spree: Give the kids a handful of catalogs and a make-believe budget, and send off on an imaginary shopping spree. Finding a hundred ways to spend a hundred imaginary dollars is great practice in subtraction and budgeting.

*Learn More About Cash – Free!: These free websites teach financial smarts through fun and games:

  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing: Kids an try a funny-money, design-your-own-bill activity and a catch-a-counterfeit security game on a virtual visit to the money factory.
  • Themint.org: For bigger kids interested in bigger bucks. The site offers readings and quizzes on money habits, and for the parents, the Perfectcents newsletters share tips and activities

Beyond Monopoly: Besides Monopoly, these five money games are winners in teaching dollars and sense:

  • PayDay: Players weigh the merits of borrowing and investing and even gets bills in their “mail” cards. Ages 8 and up, Winning Moves, $18.
  • Presto Change-O: Kids love this change-making game, which helps them master denominations, place value, and arithmetic while racing to accumulate $10. Ages 8 and up, Educational Insights, #0.
  • Pit: This noisy, century-old card game requires players to corner the market on various commodities through boisterous trading. Ages 7 and up, Winning Moves, $10.
  • Ka-Ching!: A basic intro to the stock market – two players try to buy low and sell high in this fun, quick strategy game. Ages 10 and up, Gamewright, $15.
  • Acquire: Kids try to control the biggest hotel chains, all while learning terms such as “merger” and “majority shareholder.” Ages 10 and up, Avalon Hill, $30.
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