Best Games to Play to Learn Money Management

Student Life

What if I told you that playing an entertaining game could teach you an essential life skill, such as money management? You may laugh me off or even throw a textbook in front of me, telling me to stop being idealistic and learn from that instead. However, let's face it -- a lot of us learn better from hands-on-experience, but that's not practical when it comes to acquiring knowledge about a lot of concepts in finance because, well, unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of buying a house when we're teenagers just for the sake of learning the basis around real estate. However, we do have the luxury of purchasing games, both board and video, so...maybe, just maybe, we could learn from them instead?

Wondering what games you should invest your time and money on to acquire both enjoyment and a learning experience? Well, good news: you don't have to wonder any longer because one scroll down and you'll be met with a list of five amazing games that could benefit you and your wallet for the better.

1. Cashflow (Formally Known as Cashflow 101)

Created in 1996 by Robert Kiyosaki, a businessman and New York Times best-selling author, this multi-player board game focuses on acquiring positive cash flow by investing and accounting. The game is centered around each player maintaining a financial statement that displays positive cash flow while they navigate through a road full of bumps, such as lawsuits, divorce, and tax audits.

How to Play: Each game starts with each of the players picking a career (e.g. mechanic, lawyer, pilot, etc). You can then choose from two tracks: "Rat Race" or "Fast Track". The former is when you only throw one die in advance and the latter is when you throw two. In this, I'll discuss the Rat Race since that's the more popular option. There are four decks of cards and you draw from one of them, either picking a good or bad deal ("deals" are investment-based - strongly real estate). You have to choose to either invest or not by maintaining your own financial statement and reviewing potential subsequent capital risk. In the end, whoever has the greatest money management skills will announce victory.

2. Financial Football

Created by the NFL and Visa in 1995, Financial Football has provided an engaging and interactive way to learn basic financial concepts and money management skills. Speaking of money, the best part is that this simulation is completely free and doesn't even require a download (you do have the option to download for a better playing experience). You also don't need to have a super-in-depth knowledge of American football to be able to play the game.

How to play: Go to www.financialfootball.com and click either "play online" or "get the game" - the latter would lead to a download. Either way, you'll end up setting the game up by choosing whether to play single or head-to-head, stating your age, picking the preferred duration of the playoff, and the team you're on, as well as the visiting team. Let's say that, for the sake of this tutorial, we choose to play single, in the intermediate (All-Pro) category, with a 10-minute game length, and the Giants as our team and the Eagles as the visiting team (totally not biased). You should then be taken to the actual simulation and pick to kick or receive. Let's say you pick the former and get 28 yards. You'll then be taken to a finance-related question that you'll need to answer correctly to go on. Questions are typically not too difficult and are based on a basic understanding of financial concepts.

3. Capitalism II (Capitalism Lab)

Interested in global business and getting on the international market? This game is perfect for you! It's your duty to run a corporation as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and prevent bankruptcy or getting bought out by a competitor. Unlike the former two, this game requires a bit of background on actual business operations and leans more on the money management of large legal entities rather than individuals. This game isn't just recommended to those who want to be the next Larry Culp or Mary Barra. If you're interested in the financial responsibilities behind entrepreneurship or just macroeconomics, this game is great for you. One thing to note, however, is that the game is pretty difficult at first, but it gets better once you get the hang of it.

How to Play: Before you begin the game, you're told to pick from tutorial, scenario, challenge, or custom. If you're a first-time player, you should probably pick the tutorial option to get familiar with the user interface and the game's structure. Let's say you pick scenario though. Firstly, you'll need to pick the kind of firm you want (note that your corporation will be based on private ownership). You'll then have to design your corporation; pick the corporate color scheme, the logo, your own portrait, the entity's name, and your name. You'll then be taken to an environment page, where you'll need to choose the number of cities your corporation is branched at, what you want your start-up capital to be (moderate is recommended so it's easier to obtain core competency), if you want to offer stocks, and the level of macroeconomic realism you want the scenario to have. You'll then move onto the competitor's tab, where you'll pick the number of global competitors you want, their expertise and aggression levels, and whether or not to showcase their trade secrets. Next, you'll move on to the product tab, where you'll choose how many seaports are importing consumer goods per city, how many seaports are importing industrial goods per city, and whether or not to have a constant product supply (note that this effects demand). Lastly, you'll be told to name your corporation's goals, which will make you pick a targeted total revenue, etc. Release that breath, because you're finally able to play the actual game now!

Throughout the game, you'll focus on accumulating capital, marking your spot in competitive global markets, evaluating a pricing system that intertwines with supply and demand, fulfilling your social responsibility as a legal entity, recognizing private property and property rights, expanding influence, regulating wage labor, and assessing voluntary exchange.

One important thing to know about the game is that it's not zero-sum. Raising capital and getting an ROE are most critical in this game. If you think you can "hack" a win just by starting with a small shop and growing an empire, you'll be in for a bitter surprise. You'll need to assess market saturation and combat equity dilution. Some tips to win the game are to always consider the RoR when financing, prioritize supply and demand, be careful with marketing, invest in technologies, and keep in touch with your contribution margins.

4. Wall Street Survivor

If you've taken a personal finance/dollars and sense class in high school, you probably had to play this game. This is an awarded web-based stock market game that allows the players to experience investing and trading. By gamifying the typically complicated subject of securities, this game enables players to invest in stocks using fake money to gain knowledge with no actual risk attached.

How to Play: Playing this game is pretty self-explanatory and the entire platform is user-friendly. No background knowledge of buying and selling stocks is necessary. To start the game, go to www.wallstreetsurvivor.com and click "open your $100,000 practice account". There's also an introduction video that is available to watch to get familiarity with the actual game. Needless to say, your main goal is to make a profit from your investments. This is typically a multi-day game, therefore you won't be done in one sitting and will need to check in daily.

5. Monopoly

Invented by Charles B. Darrow and later bought by The Parker Brothers in the 1930s, Monopoly is the best-selling privately patented board game in history with many editions, including a two million dollar gold edition with diamonds in the dice. If you aren't familiar with the physical board game, you're probably familiar with the McMillions scandal. In any case, this game is great for learning the basic framework of real-estate purchases.

How to Play: The goal of the entire game is to accumulate as much liquidated wealth as you can by the end of the game. The winner is the last person standing after all the other players go bankrupt. To win, the most common strategy (and the entire idea of the game) used is to buy property, so that when the other players land on the spaces you own, you'll receive rent. The game depends on probability, therefore it's important to recognize the chances of landing on each colored box, as well as Go, Jail, and Free Parking. If you do the math by relating the dice roll with the spots available, you'd come to this conclusion from 5 simulations:

Brown = 5; Light Blue = 73; Pink = 90; Orange = 126; Red = 99; Yellow = 110; Green = 113; Dark Blue = 77.

You start the actual game by choosing a banker. The rest of the players will then each pick one of the eight "tokens" (the gun, train, hat, etc). This token will be their placeholder. The Banker will then give each player a starting amount of $1,500. The First Player rolls the dice and moves the game piece based on the number the dice shows. If you land on a property, you choose whether or not to invest in it. Again, the goal is to monopolize the real estate market in the set area (assuming that all the players are potential investors as well).

Did you enjoy reading Sania Ahmad's article? Let your friends know by using any of the sharing options below.

Sania Ahmad
5,000+ pageviews

Sania Ahmad is a seventeen-year-old social entrepreneur, author, & mental health advocate from Texas.