Hello! It’s Jen again, with installment five of Agili’s Game for Kids: Intro to Personal Finance.

Click here for a printable version of our Game for Kids: Intro to Personal Finance (12 pages).

Module 5 – Budgeting

Page 9 of Agili's Kids' Game, Intro to Personal Finance: Budgeting

Hello, and welcome to Module 5: Budgeting. See Page 9 of the game for the Budgeting Module.

Ahhh, budgeting, my favorite topic. My 13-year-old daughter Lila kindly volunteered to help me with this week’s blog post. My kids are not strangers to the concept of a budget…but they’ve never yet had to think about it on a personal level. I was excited to find this free resource online, knowing it would make sense to kids, so I simplified the game a bit and included it here.

The purpose of this module is to give your child a set amount of “income” using small candies or dried beans (we used M&Ms). Each child should be given 20 candies and it’s up to them to decide how to “spend” their candies. Your child will quickly find that if they spend a lot in some areas, they will need to cut back in others. Your child should feel free to move their candies around until they’re satisfied, and then you can talk about their choices with them.

You can see how Lila chose to spend her candies. She prioritized owning her own home, but was happy to use public transportation to avoid spending money on a vehicle (and auto insurance). She was also less concerned with new furniture but excited to take vacations. The game with M&Ms on different budgeting categories

What I learned:

  • Since there are at least two kinds of insurance (auto and health), I probably should have broken this section into two boxes. With one box, it looks like your child can choose one or the other. Health insurance is a tricky topic right now, because there’s no standard. Auto insurance is fairly easy to estimate, and you only need it if you own a car. Health insurance, on the other hand, could be practically free…or could cost thousands of dollars a month. Ultimately, I didn’t want to complicate this game with confusing details about the ever-changing health insurance industry. I explained to my kids that they had to put two M&Ms in the insurance box, but the rest of their spending was up to them. Feel free to handle this however you think your child will understand.
  • It was super interesting (and entertaining) to watch my kids make their choices. (I keep being surprised by their maturity on these topics!) Each child’s personality shone through – Jojo (10) is my best saver, and she managed to spend three M&Ms (15% of her income!) on saving for retirement. All three kids – who are capable helpers in the kitchen – confidently chose to save money by cooking at home six nights a week.
  • Try not to steer your child’s decisions. When Lila had one M&M left, I watched her consider where to put it. I felt a little spark of parental joy when she finally placed the candy on the saving for retirement box, and then laughed out loud as she pushed the M&M up one box, to upgrade her phone to unlimited data. “It’s your money!” I said, and she grinned.

Next up, Module Six: Risk

Module Four: Stock Primer

If your child would like to dive even deeper into personal finance, check out this app offered by Mint.com