About four years ago, one of my friends told me about a money game he started with his three sons. This is a game about money, but not play money…I’m talking real money. He said the purpose of the game was to teach them the value of money and budgeting. This would help keep my kids out of the poor house. And, one little added benefit, this money game would remove tons of stress from my life. Intrigued, I asked him to explain how it works.
How It Works
This is a simple game involving only three steps:
1. Determine how much money your kids need each year.
- Ask your kids how much money they think they need for everything they need and want this year. This does NOT include the roof over their head nor the food/meals you provide inside your home or if you go out to eat as a family. You will cover the general living expenses, but they will need to cover everything else they want and need.
- At the same time, you need to come up with an idea of how much money you believe they need.
- Explain to them that this is all the money you will be giving them for the entire year.
2. On January 1st of each year, give each kid that amount of money.
- It is best to give them the actual cash. This allows them to see how much money it is and makes it very real. They get to feel the cash!!!
- Also give them some advice on budgeting. Explain to them how to save for things they want to do. Remind them that they have to pay for school clothes, events out with their friends, and anything they want to buy. Also suggest that they save some money for an emergency.
3. Don’t give them any more money.
- That’s it. That’s all they get. It is their responsibility to pay for everything besides the roof over their head and the food/meals you provide.
- Besides gifts for birthdays or Christmas, they have to pay for their own games, toys, clothes, and anything they want to do like movies, field trips, etc…
- Stick to your guns!!!
My Family’s Experience With The Game
My wife and I talked about this game and decided, with our sons, that we would give it a try. The only difference is we decided that instead of giving them a year’s worth of money up front, we would give them a certain amount of money every month, on the 1st of each month. We met with our sons, and all agreed that we would provide our teenage sons with $150.00 a month and our elementary school son $50.00 a month. Everyone was excited. On the 1st of the very next month, the game began!!!
The first weekend after the boys received their “budget money” we went to the mall. And what a relief. Before, our kids would nag us to buy them things, making a trip to the mall a real pain. They wanted a new game, a new stuffed animal, a new pair of shoes. This time was different. Instead of nagging us to buy them things, they were thinking…”What can I buy with my money?” Immediately, their brains were working and they knew not to ask us for any money. This immediately made going to the mall less stressful. They had to make better decisions, and quite honestly they did. Even my youngest son said, “I can buy this one big stuffed animal, or I can buy these two small ones for about the same price.”
The first month went so well, that we decided to keep it going. Over the years, the boys had times where they budgeted pretty well and times where they were out of money too early in the month. Sure they asked for more, but we said no. I also explained to them the value of investing in a Vanguard account at a early age and watching their money grow. They each began putting at least $20.00 a month into a stock portfolio (I took care of this, but they gave me the money). I told them I would match their $20.00 with $20.00 each month. Their portfolios have been growing every since and to this day, they are all STILL investing.
It has been over four years now, and we still provide “budget money.” Well, we only provide money to our youngest son now. When our older sons turned 18 years old, we stopped providing “budget money” every month. It is on them now to make money and provide for themselves. In all honesty, I have had to help the older boys out with money each month for college now. My wife and I figured we wanted them focusing on college and not stressing over a job, though we are trying to help them understand this next phase of life and living on their own. I have found this a bit challenging, but we are all figure it out.
This was a great game that my buddy shared with me and we shared with our sons. All of my boys know the value of a dollar. Sure, at first, they tried to press us for a little more, but we simply explained how budgeting and saving works and that this is how the real world works. We also explained to them that they could get a job and increase the amount of money they had to spend. In the end, this is a great money game to help your kids learn how to budget their money and appreciate what they have. I would highly recommend trying this game with your kids and helping them learn the value of a dollar.