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Teaching personal finance using money management games

money management gamesMoney management games help people learn better ways to spend and save. Popular money management games include the Stock Market Game and a variety of offerings developed by Cooperative Extension (such as the Allowance Game). Yet, personal finance is often taught not with interactive games and relevant scenarios. Instead, many classes and seminars that teach teens and adults how to manage money are quite dry. They are often lectures, PowerPoint presentations, or worksheet-driven classes.

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That’s not to say that teaching money management cannot have some component of lecture, PowerPoint, or worksheet. However, relying solely on these teaching methods often leads to classes where students don’t seem invested or interested and don’t seem to make important connections between what happens in the classroom and what happens in real life. Also, while reading PowerPoint slides to a class may be easy, it usually does not make for a good teaching or learning experience in the way that learning games do.
It’s for these reasons, that students and teachers have enjoyed using Money Habitudes as part of money management and personal finance classes. Like other personal finance games, Money Habitudes offers a few advantages:

  1. As a hands-on money management game, Money Habitudes is a welcome break from other teaching formats where students are more passive and less involved. This is true on a physical and emotional level. It’s very different to just sit quietly and still in your seat and listen to someone talk about personal finance versus being active, talking, and physically involved in learning how to spend or save money.
  2. Personal financial games make spending, saving, investing, and giving more personally relevant. It’s very different to fill out a form about what a mortgage is or how to compute APR versus actually buying a house or car – or at least doing so in a simulation. Money Habitudes helps people make the connection between how they see and use money in their unique way and how that affects their bank balance.
  3. Financial games are fun. Educational games are active. In many cases, they involve some dimension of competition. And it’s different to just learn by listening versus learning by doing.

One of the fun testimonials we hear all the time is that people who use Money Habitudes often want to do the personal finance game with their friends and family after taking a class. That’s a very different reaction compared to most personal finance classes where few people ever run home to make a budget. However, because Money Habitudes serve to break the ice when it comes to thinking and talking about personal finances, they often serve as a gateway to other money management steps: doing a budget, getting one’s credit report, seeing a financial planner, etc. Money management games should be fun enough that people want to use them — and share them.
Use Money Habitudes as an introductory lesson to other skills-based lessons or personal finance curricula (such as Money Smart). Beyond using only the cards in your classroom, check out the Dibble Institute’s Money Habitudes: How To Be Rich in Life & Love, a curriculum about money and relationships. The instructional game-based program targets high school teens and is also applicable in after-school programs, foster care programs, and faith-based money and relationship classes for teens.