A study done by the University of Cambridge finds that kids start to learn basic money ideas from as young as three and our relationship with money can be formed from as young as seven. Not only that but basic math skills used like counting, adding and subtracting can have a significant impact on your ability to manage your money in adulthood according to a report by the UK Money Advice Service.
Since it is crucial to develop these skills from a young age, what better way to teach your kids than through games? Let’s look at some of the top money board games that can help your kids develop foundational skills in money management.
Monopoly is easily the most famous money board game in the world. Interestingly, the game has more anti-capitalist origins than one might think. Originally named The Landlord's Game, the game was intended to demonstrate the impact of economic ill effects of land monopolism. The game as we know it today was sold by its creator, Elizabeth Magie for $500 to Parker Brothers and branded Monopoly as we know it today.
The popularity of the game has soared as it teaches the basic principles of accumulating assets, earning a return on investment and managing capital in a fun and interactive way. The design of the game forces players to strategize and manage money since at any moment, luck might go against you and you’ll be forced to cough up rent or tax.
While Monopoly doesn’t have a minimum age, Board Game Geek (a popular board game website) suggests a starting age of 8.
2. Settlers of Catan
Originally released in Germany by Klaus Teuber in 1995, Settlers of Catan or simply “Catan” has gone on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide. Players in the game assume the role of settlers on a fictional island called Catan with the aim of acquiring land and resources to expand their settlements.
The goal of the game is to have the highest number of overall victory points which can be obtained by building roads, upgrading cities and having the largest army. The game teaches core skills such as trade offs, negotiation and resource planning in order to acquire the maximum number of points. The great thing about this game, apart from being outstandingly fun is that it teaches simple budgeting strategies without even introducing money.
The recommended age for starting Catan is also 8 years old.
3. The Allowance game
Built by LakeShore Learning, the Allowance game is designed for teaching kids about money through activities they are familiar with such as doing their chores, spending their allowance at a mall or running a lemonade stand.
The aim of the game is to accumulate $20 worth of savings through avoiding spending and capitalizing on money-earning opportunities. The game comes with plastic money in the form of coins and bills. Overall, the game is not really designed as a strategy game and thus lacks a “fun” factor as compared to our previous mentions. As designed as an educational game, however, it is great for getting your kids used to using money with the purpose of developing saving habits.
The game is appropriate for kids ages 6 and up.
4. Exact Change
In terms of developing pure math money skills, this game is definitely one of the best. Exact Change teaches your kids quick math with the basics of adding and subtracting coins and notes through a rapid-fire card game. The aim of the game is to try to empty your hand by matching the exact monetary amount either by playing the same coin or by placing the combining cards to get the exact change amount.
As it is a card game, each game round is quick (~15 minutes) which means it is suitable for a quick educational exercise to practise arithmetic. It is recommended for kids ages 5 and up.
5. Cash Cow
The last entry is one of our own. At Math for Money, we have a strong focus on combining basic numeracy with an understanding of money management. We’ve developed a card game, Cash Cow, to compliment our mobile app where kids can solve math problems for their pocket money.
In the Cash Cow card game, players shuffle the deck and divide the entire pack evenly amongst all themselves, with the cards face down. On the count of 3, all players turn one of their cards over to face up. The first player to identify and take the card with the highest value (most amount of money) wins that card. Once all the cards are done, the player with the most cards wins! You can add in more players to make the game more difficult since you need to count each player's card as quickly as possible.
If you are looking for further math money education resources, feel free to access our math worksheets that teach kids counting, arithmetic and other key skills linked to numeracy. These are available for free in downloadable PDF format.