Financial literacy and money management are crucial life skills that teenagers need as they start to plan their future. According to GoHenry research, 51% of adults who learned about money management as children have at least $5,300 in savings. Meanwhile, 40% of adults who had no financial education in childhood have no savings and are more likely to get into debt. Fun games and money management activities can help you start the conversation with your teen and get them interested in developing their financial education.
Benefits of money management activities for teens
Good financial habits take time to develop. Money management activities can help reinforce what you teach your teenager about money and what they are learning through resources like GoHenry's Money Missions. The sooner your teen starts putting their money management skills into practice, the more time they'll have to develop them while still under your guidance.
6 money management activities
Here are six money management activities to help teenagers develop financial independence as they get older.
1. Reading a book
Financial basics: A money-management guide for students by Susan Knox (Ohio State University Press, 2004)
This book guides teenagers through the different aspects of money management, using examples and testimonials that young people can relate to. There are also helpful worksheets, tips for dealing with emotions, and practical budgeting and record-keeping techniques.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich (2nd Edition): No guilt, no excuses - just a 6-week program that works by Ramit Sethi (Yellow Kite, 2020)
This is a great beginner's guide to all things money. This book takes a practical and non-judgement approach to money management to help teenagers get control of their finances and not the other way around.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason (Berkley Books, 2008)
The teachings in this book may be old, but they are timeless and can be applied to teenagers planning to venture into the world independently. While it provides some important financial advice, the story's simplicity makes it fun and easy to read. It covers everything from making your money work for you, living below your means, tracking and protecting your wealth, to having a retirement plan.
Wisdom from Rich Dad, Poor Dad for Teens: The Secrets about Money--That You Don't Learn in School! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Timeless wisdom from Kiyosaki is condensed down in this mini-book. Teens can jumpstart their financial journey with tips for success from an inspiring financial expert. Learn how to speak the language of money and how to choose your path to financial freedom in this bestselling book.
2. Playing board games
Playing Monopoly is a fun way for teenagers to learn about both delayed gratification and planning for the future. The game is all about buying properties to collect rent and earn money later on. It can also help young people understand the value of saving money to afford expenses, as part of the game involves saving up to pay rent on the properties you land to avoid going bankrupt.
PayDay can help show your teenagers the reality of managing money and what it can be like to budget and save their money. The game puts players in real-life financial situations. Players get paid at the end of each month but must deal with everyday costs between paydays, such as food shopping, bills, and unexpected expenses. The winner of PayDay is whoever has the most money at the end of the game.
Stock Exchange Game
This game takes you through a year in your life with each trip around the board while challenging you to invest for retirement someday. Will you pick low-risk investments with slow, stable growth or purchase risky assets that could make you rich or leave you losing it all? Find out in this fun game while learning more about investing money.
3. Play online games
Football Manager is a strategic online game in which teenagers can manage a soccer team. Most importantly, they can learn that financial management is all about finding the balance between wants and needs. Players get a transfer budget to buy players. You must decide which players to get and how to avoid the team overspending or risk damaging the club's financial health. It's a great way of teaching teenagers about the importance of reviewing their finances before investing or spending money.
Hattrick is another online soccer manager game that puts you in charge of a club you want to take to the top of the league. To be successful, you need to plan effectively for the long term. You need to ensure you have money to invest in your youth facilities or buy an older star player who may boost your team's short-term performance.
In this fun online game, players take on the role of managing Enzo the Magician and must decide how he’ll budget for his many magical performances. Don’t forget to save for the big show in Vegas!
Hit the Road
Hit the road in this adventure game teaching kids the importance of spending wisely and saving money. Go on a road trip across the country while learning to manage your expenses and budget.
This economy simulation game lets players buy and sell virtual goods with Linden Dollars. Second Life users or “residents” play in a free market economy while interacting in-game.
Time for Payback
Paying for college and talking about student loans can be overwhelming. Time for Payback makes it fun with a game that takes teens through college while challenging them not to fall into debt.
Teens learn the cost, benefits, and downfalls of credit cards and loans and how to obtain a good credit score in Credit Clash. This card-based game allows players to make payments, pull out loans, and face the ups and downs of finances.
Jump$tart’s Reality Check
This Reality Check calculator helps kids see what kind of income they’ll need to meet all their wants and needs. Teens can answer questions about their lifestyle and estimate amounts for each category.
Fun games like Spent make great budgeting activities for youth. The game’s objective is to use $1,000 as wisely as possible over the course of one month. It prepares teens to face the reality of losing a job or a source of income while teaching them smart ways to budget ahead of time.
This browser game for teens shows how loan terms actually work as kids play as a shady lender. Your goal is to issue loans that make your company the most money, teaching kids plenty about money and the risks of borrowing themselves.
Build Your Stax
Play through one year of money in each minute of real time with this game teaching teens to save. In 20-30 minutes, teens can complete a full game of saving money for 20 years. Players start with $1,000 and a challenge to invest as wisely as possible.
Compound Interest Calculator
While not a game itself, use a compound interest calculator to run money experiments with teens. Have students pick a set amount of money and challenge them to come up with an investing strategy for retirement. Use a compound interest calculator to illustrate just how much small amounts of money add up to over time.
The Uber Game
Step into the shoes of a full-time Uber driver with this interactive news game. Learn how to make a living in the gig economy and face situations based on real reporting.
4. Playing video games
The benefit of role-playing games is that they typically require teens to plan ahead and manage resources. The Sims can help teenagers understand that hard work, patience and saving will help them keep their finances in order and achieve their long-term goals. At the start of the game, players get a set budget they must grow by getting their character a job to afford to pay bills and buy things for the house. They create virtual characters who they must guide through everyday activities such as sleeping, socializing, eating and managing money.
5. Managing their own allowance and rewards for chores
When teens can manage their own money, whether it's from allowance or cash they've earned when they’ve been rewarded for doing chores, they can start to appreciate the value of money and put the financial skills they’ve learned into practice. Paying your teen's allowance through GoHenry, enables them to set saving goals within the app and use their prepaid debit card to spend their money online, in stores or withdrawing cash from an ATM. Teens can also use the app to track their spending, helping them to budget until their next allowance payment.
6. PDF downloadable money management activities for teens
Bouncing ball budgets
Bouncing ball budgets make fun money management activities for teens. Kids throw a ball to each other in a group while answering questions about spending habits. Questions are designed to start the conversation with teens about real-life situations with money.
Creating a savings first-aid kit
Savings first-aid kits also make excellent money management activities for youth. Teens need to brainstorm unexpected expenses they may face in life and decide what really counts as an emergency expense. A fun first-aid approach makes it easier to discuss how to deal with finances when things go wrong.
GoHenry can help your teenager manage their money
Whether your child is six and just started getting an allowance, or a teenager with a part-time job, GoHenry's mission is to make every kid smart with money. It's packed with great features that help teens learn about money, from saving to smart spending, safely and securely. In-app Money Missions makes learning about money fun and engaging with videos and quizzes covering everything from saving and investing to responsible spending, borrowing, giving, and more.
Parents can support their teens through the GoHenry app by setting flexible parental controls and receiving real-time spending alerts whenever they use their GoHenry prepaid debit card. You can set your teen up with savings goals, set up recurring allowance payments, or make one-time transfers to their account.