I just read a very interesting article from Kiplinger’s (May 8, 2020) about the personal finance lessons that can be found in “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” for the Switch. It got me wondering about how many parents really learn about the games their children are playing and how to use them to teach their children? Here are some examples:
Animal Crossing: New Horizon teaches about budgeting, buying and selling, using coupons, value of work, friendship
Minecraft: They craft with items that are found in the real world – diamonds, iron, wood, quartz, cobblestone, and more. There are also times you can trade with the villagers to get obtain other items. Patience is taught as you can dig for long periods without finding anything.
Life: The board game teaches children all about choices. At the very beginning you are asked to choose a career path – college or not. You need to decide about purchasing life, auto, and fire insurance, and whether you will invest in stock or not.
Monopoly: You may think it’s obvious, and the buying and selling part is. However, you also need to watch (budget) your money, decide how to make your property more valuable (is spending $200 for one house on Boardwalk better than buying 2, 3, or 4 homes on other monopolies?), what does mortgaging a property really mean? Do they understand the difference between “renting” and “owning”?
Payday: Your child will learn why you aren’t as excited getting mail as they are since you can get bills in this game (as well as postcards and advertisements). They also learn to budget, the cost and benefits of interest as they take out loans and start savings accounts, the benefits of health and auto insurance, and how to decide if a deal is really a good buy or not.
I’m sure there are others, but these are the first ones I thought of. Check them out.
All of these games present you opportunities to talk about life, discuss why you made some of the choices you made, etc. The important thing is that it isn’t a lecture or a time to “sit and learn this.” It’s fun and the educational part is just slipped in. You may even find that after playing these games, they have a better understanding of WHY you say things like “We don’t have the money for that right now.” If they don’t, you can point them back to the game. “It’s like you didn’t have enough bells in Animal Crossing to get that fishing pole when you first wanted it. It took you time to save the money up to buy it.”
So while we wait for the state to open, pick up one of these games and start a family game night. Trust me, your children will love it – especially if you show interest in their video games!
Send me an email and let me know your ideas on teaching personal finance to your children. Feel free to ask any Real Estate related questions or let me know if you want a valuation done of your home!