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Do you know what I don’t like about most money based board games?
They almost all encourage racking up debt early on to have more cash later. As a family trying hard to get out of debt, taking out loans isn’t advice I want to pass onto my children.
So I change the rules of the games a bit. I talk to the kids about dangers of debt while we play, and explain that we’re going to change the rules so they learn how to better manage their money. It’s an easy way to reinforce smart money skills.
Games I’ve Modified
Here are some of the games I’ve modified, to remove the debt part (yes, those are affiliate links–thanks for your support!):
Now these games might not all encourage going into debt, but the rules are designed so that players often need to take out bank loans to cover unexpected expenses.
5 Easy Ways to Modify Budget Board Games
To help teach smart money management to the kids, here are some specific ways I’ve changed the rules of game play. We mix and match depending on the game, but this will give you a general idea.
Encourage an Emergency Fund
You’ve got to have a small emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses! Otherwise, you’re going to run out of money and need a loan.
So when the banker passes out the initial money to start the game, I remind the kids to put some of their bills in an emergency fund. They decide how much to put in, and slide those bills into another pile.
As they’re buying properties or anything else, they don’t touch their emergency fund. It’s for when they run into unexpected expenses from a card or space on the board. If they have to spend money from this fund, I encourage them to put it back as soon as they can.
Analyzing Purchases and Deals
Not every deal is a great buy. If you go broke in the process, you have to ask yourself if it was really worth it.
So as each player has the opportunity to buy, I encourage them to look closely at their financial situation and make an educated decision. If you don’t know where you are financially, you probably shouldn’t be making big purchases!
Paying Back Debt ASAP
Sometimes a crisis arises in the game, and you have to go into debt. When this happens, I talk to the kids about taking out as small a loan as possible, and aggressively paying it off.
It’s amazing how fast you can get out of debt in games if you put your energy into it.
After all, the goal of the games is to acquire actual money. If you have loans, that’s a big fat negative you have to subtract.
These games don’t have a giving component, which is something I want my kids to have. I want them to give generously, and help others out.
If I see that a player is going to have to go into debt, and I have enough to help, I pass them over some money as a gift. Not a loan that I expect to be paid back–I’d much rather they owe the bank than me…
No, I give the money as a gift, to help them out of a tight situation.
My kids are starting to do the same. And this attitude is coming out in real life as well. It’s been amazing to watch!
Some games, like Payday, or The Farming Game, can be extended in play. When you’re not taking out loans, you don’t get to take advantage of the deals often in the first month or two.
So we play a few months longer. Extending the game play lets the kids capitalize on their smart money decisions and end the game extremely wealthy. It takes time to see this strategy pay off, so if it’s possible we make it happen.
Money Management Is Essential
I’ve learned so many money management skills the hard way. I don’t want my kids to make my same mistakes.
So I take every opportunity I can to teach them a different way. One that doesn’t involve going into debt, but rather saving, keeping track of your money, working hard, and giving.
But, if they get used to going into debt in these budget board games, they might start thinking that loans are the fast way to money. That’s not an attitude I want to pass on. Thus, rule modification is important to me.
Have You Modified Rules of Money Based Board Games to Teach Money Management?
I’d love to hear other ways you modify money based board games to make them more smart money management friendly. Please share your ideas in the comments!