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Tips: money games for adults in financial education classes

Money games for adults make learning about personal finance fun. Using adult games is a different than typical financial education classes. After all, it’s not much fun to fill out a budget worksheet. And listening to a financial lecture can be boring.
That’s why so many financial educators use Money Habitudes in financial education classes. They’re like money games for adults. The activity is one part money conversation starter and one part money personality test. However, the non-threatening questions and hands-on card game format make it feel like a game.

Why use money games for adults?

So why do financial educators use money games for adults?

  1. To put people at ease at the start of a class.
  2. To set a tone of fun and participation for the rest of the class – or a series of financial education classes.
  3. And, of course, money games aren’t just “fun and games” but actually teach something about personal finance.

Money Habitudes money games for adultsFor example, Money Habitudes cards teach adults about their spending habits in a way that’s more fun and engaging than just doing a budget. The game-like activity also helps adults understand their money personality. It helps people understand how they see and use money differently from a spouse, sibling, or friend. These money games for adults explain why someone goes into debt, never spends, is always asking for financial help, or never saves.
After using the cards, financial educators will often move on to other financial skills. They may draw on the lessons from the Money Habitudes money games when they teach budgeting, how to buy a house, how to open a bank account, or other money management topics. There are other money games for adults that are used in conjunction with Money Habitudes. Many of these can be found in the case studies section. They include the stock market game, the bean allowance game, and several online money management games.

Tips when using money games for adults:

  1. Make sure you know what the money games teach. If the goal is to just get people to have fun, you could throw a ball around the room. However, you want the game to teach something. Money Habitudes, it’s what our spending habits are. It’s also how different people see money differently. This includes how two people will interact over their spending decisions. And it helps teach people how to talk about money and find their financial strengths and challenges. Other money games may teach about buying a house, opening a checking account, or paying down debt, for example.
  2. Set a realistic time to use the game. There aren’t a lot of very quick games (a few minutes) that teach much. On the other hand, long games can be hard to include because if they take 30 minutes or more, attention can wane and they aren’t as flexible when it comes to class time. Games of 5-30 minutes seem like a good length and allow for multiple games in a single class of a half hour or an hour. They also allow for discussion and time to ask questions.
  3. Money games should allow everyone in the room to participate. So a board game that can only be played by 4 people at a time isn’t a good option for large financial classes of 20 people.
  4. When using money games with adults, they should still be easy to explain and understand. Games with a lot of rules probably won’t work well. Think about complicated board games that have big instruction booklets. If the game is new to people and takes 10 minutes to explain, it’s not a good fit.
  5. Even money games for adults may not work well if they are written at a relatively high reading level. The new version of Money Habitudes, for example, is written at a 5th-grade reading level. That makes it fast for all participants to read and use. It also allows those with lower literacy levels to participate.
  6. While not imperative, games with movement are well received. This may mean people move around the room, or it may mean that they are rolling dice or turning over cards. Think about even the difference between moving a Monopoly game piece and sitting down with only a pen to fill out a crossword puzzle.
  7. Will they make people uncomfortable? In this case, role-playing or play-acting games can be difficult. Consider that a bunch of friends may happily play charades, but a group of strangers may be hesitant to join in if it means looking foolish.
  8. The adult games you use should be easy to set up and put away.
  9. Money games should also be durable or replaceable.
  10. Even when using money games with adults, be sure to nurture an atmosphere of fun. If people feel that they aren’t allowed to talk or laugh (as in a typical classroom environment), it goes against the very point of injecting a fun activity.