Games to Teach Budgeting or Money Management for Adults

Money management is a skill that has to be learned, and plenty of people arrive at adulthood without ever acquiring the tools to do it well. Adult educators can assist their grown students in developing healthy money habits, and identifying unnecessary expenditures, by engaging them in money management and budgeting games. These games allow adult learners the opportunity to practice money management skills in an enjoyable and cooperative fashion.

Games to Teach Budgeting or Money Management for Adults
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Wants vs. Needs Receipts

Ask learners to bring in three receipts from recent purchases to use in this wants vs. needs game. To prepare for this game, label one paper lunch sack as wants, and another as needs. When the learners arrive in class, ask them to place their three receipts on their desk. If the receipt contains more than one object, ask the student to circle or highlight one of the objects. Then ask each student to write his or her name on the back of the receipts. Collect the receipts from the students.

Ask a student volunteer to come up to the class and sort the receipts. Once the receipts have been sorted, check their sorting. If they sorted correctly, reward them for their hard work.

Fixed Income Simulation

Challenge learners to determine which purchases are required and which are dispensable in this fixed income simulation. To prepare this game, write potential purchases on index cards. Along with each item, write the price of the purchase. Create two identical copies of these cards. Using one set of cards, divide the necessary objects from the unnecessary ones. Add up the cost of the necessary objects. Mix the cards.

When the learners arrive in class, divide them into two teams. Write the number that you reached by adding the necessary objects on the board. Explain to the adult learners that they have just been placed on a fixed income and that they only have the amount of money written on the board available to spend. Provide each group with a set of the cards you prepared and ask them to work as a team to sort through the cards and determine which objects listed on the cards they would buy if they had only the amount listed on the board. Allow students to sort through the cards, selecting the most important objects and adding up the values until they have selected the cards that equal the amount written on the board. The team to complete the task first wins.

Busy Budget Calculation

Create a busy budgeting calculation game for your students. To create this game, list income types and expenses on index cards. On each card, write a sentence explaining the money coming into or going out of the imaginary budget. Create enough cards for each student to have 10 cards. When the learners arrive in class, greet them at the door with the cards and allow them to randomly draw 10 cards. Tell the learners to keep the cards face down and take them to their seats. When all of the students have arrived, instruct all students to take out a sheet of paper. Tell the students that incomes and expenditures are listed on the cards that they drew at the door. Instruct students to use their sheet of paper and calculate the total amount of money they would have left at the end of the month if the cards that they drew represented their true income and expense profile.

Encourage students to race through their busy budget calculations, and reward the learner who completes the calculations first.