by KATE HUNTER
I have one word for parents wringing their hands about how to teach their children how to understand money and that is – ‘Lotto’.
I’m serious. Moneyboxes divided into ‘giving’, ‘saving’, and ‘spending’ are great, but they’re no match for the game gathering dust in most family homes. In my opinion, Monopoly is one of the best financial teaching tool ever invented.
I realise it has also been implicated in more instances of family violence than any other board game, but it is AWESOME in its ability to teach kids about money.
You may worry Monopoly might inspire your child to become something hideous, like a property developer, but you need to see past that and use the world’s favourite game to the spark the conversations you know you have to have.
Monopoly helps you talk about money in a fun way, and it allows kids to make and lose fortunes without losing anything more than a bit of cred.
Our son is 11 and every time he plays, he tries a different strategy. So far these have included:
• Buy every single property you land on. Even shonky Old Kent Road. Who needs cash when you OWN everything? That strategy hold up well when the dice roll your way – but what happens if Dad snaps up Mayfair and Park Lane, knocks up a few houses and you’re up for $600 in rent? A bit of cash for a rainy day – even a cloudy one – is always wise.
• Buy nothing, hold onto a big fat wad of cash. Laugh in an evil tyrant kind of way at those running low on the moolah. This is certainly fun for a while, but no matter how thrifty you are, money sometimes needs to be spent – on rent, a nasty Community Chest draw (damn than income tax), a stint in jail. This strategy might keep you liquid – but you can’t win and you won’t enjoy yourself.
• Be selective. Hold out for the posher properties. Go for complete sets. Plan to buy a few houses. This seems to work well, but you need a reasonable stash of cash at the ready so you don’t want to go buying Trafalgar Square simply to piss your sister off.
• Cheat. My boy hasn’t done this (yet) but his Uncle Jack is a master. If Jack knows Monopoly is on the evening agenda, he’ll lift a few hundred bucks from the box during the afternoon. Then when the game’s at its most critical he’s suddenly able to buy and sell the entire board! These days the box has to be hidden in the days preceding the game. It’s either that, or someone has to conduct a body search. Mostly when Jack’s around we play Scrabble.
Ben is learning though, that managing money is a combination of thoughtful saving, smart spending, a little foresight and a healthy wariness of sharks like his Uncle Jack.
As Australia’s leading financial institution, the Commonwealth Bank is committed to helping young Australians develop strong money management skills and form sensible saving habits that can last a lifetime.
Along with a range of savings accounts, including one designed especially for under-18s, and their well-established School Banking program, they offer a diverse range of initiatives designed to promote financial literacy. For more information visit their site.
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Do you have a Monopoly strategy? Do you know other fun ways to teach kids about money?