I've merged my game-geek with my money-geek status by playing financial-themed board games with my kids.

We're a family full of board-game geeks. And now that we have kids, I've merged my game-geek with my money-geek status by playing financial-themed board games with my kids.

My 5-year old loves the Allowance Game. After staring longingly at the latest LEGO catalog, he turned to me and said, "Mommy, I want to recycle cans so I can earn 80 cents." Just like we do in the game.

He was thrilled when we hit the recycling center and brought home $4.50. I also thank that game for showing him the benefits of saving his allowance, rather than spending it right away.

Money-themed board games teach real-life lessons and have the added benefits of being fun, non-digital family time. Here are a few great games for children of different ages!


The Allowance Game. Players get allowances and babysit and clean the garage for extra money. They also spend money on candy, ice cream and gifts. The first player to save $20 wins. It's easy to play and introduces basic concepts of saving, spending and earning money, as well as money-counting skills.

Money Bags teaches making change and counting coins. Players earn money doing chores and running lemonade stands. In each turn, you aren't allowed to use certain coins when collecting your money, causing children to think critically about the value of each coin. The player with the most money at the end wins.

Buy it Right teaches children coin values, making change, addition, subtraction, how to be entrepreneurial and even how to use coupons. The instructions include variations for children of different ages and abilities.


The Game of Life. Dust off this classic, which teaches more complicated real-life lessons about careers and incomes, the costs of houses and children, the value of insurance and that random events can wipe out your bank account.

The Farming Game isn't your typical money game, but it teaches long-term thinking and planning skills. Each player inherits a 20-acre farm from Grandpa and has a part-time job in town. The end goal is to save enough money to be able to quit your job and farm full-time. There is also a junior version where players grow their own crops and earn by selling them at a fruit stand.


Payday is a classic game. The winner has the most money at the end of the month after paying all of the bills. It's an approximation of real life: There are pay days, bills, "deals" that seem too good to pass up, and loans to be repaid.

Thrive Time for Teens. Teens navigate real-life scenarios such as buying cars, managing expenses, paying for college, using credit cards, buying stocks and starting businesses, all while a teenager with a part-time job.

If you're still not convinced a board game can help, here is some food for thought: About 55 percent of teens say they want to learn more about how to manage their money, with 88 percent wanting to learn about investing, budgeting, saving, checking accounts and buying cars and houses, according to a survey conducted by Capital One. Yet about 40 percent of adults said their parents didn't teach them how to manage money.

The bottom line: Financial education starts at home. Why not make it a game?

-Denise Trowbridge is a self-professed money geek who writes about personal finance, banking and insurance for The Columbus Dispatch, bankrate.com and middlepathfinance.com.