Money Board Games

The current favourite for my family is Pay Day because my youngest child is able to understand and follow the rules of the game.  This is followed closely by our second favourite, the Game of Life for my older children. Monopoly is another permanent fixture on the shelf - it is a much longer game, one to take out and play on really long rainy days!

If you have any other family favourites or you would like to see a review of other board games about money, drop me a line!

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The Game of Life (ages 8+)

Choose the pathway you want to go in life.  When you spin the wheel and land on a decision path, you will have to make decisions and choose the path you want to take in life. For example, do you want to get a job now or study for longer to get a better qualification? What occupation will you choose - dancer, inventor, vet? Do you want to get married or stay single? Buying and selling houses.  The cars used in these board games have peg holes on top to reflect real life events such as finding a life partner, getting married, having children, etc

These are decisions we all need to make in life and children are exposed to these dilemma that will inevitably face them in life.

The Game of Life was originally created in 1860 and its modern take was re-made in 1960. There have been various modern updates since the 1960s version, so choose one that suits your taste. A summary of the various versions might help you:

1970s (Classic Edition)

This version is closest to its 1960 re-creation, with minor changes to reflect more modern day language and objects (eg. motor vehicles).

1991 version

This version adopts many of the earlier version but introduces reward for good behaviour such as taking out rubbish, helping the homeless.

2005 version

This version introduces new rules and gameplay. It reduces the element of chance, but nevertheless still rewards risk taking.

The most popular

The 1970s version remains most liked by many due to its simplicity. Whilst the newer versions are more colourful and contain more bits and pieces, it adds to the complexity of the game, which may not be all that useful for young children. After all, money lessons are best kept simple. The later versions introduced elements of chance which some linked to gambling.


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Cashflow for Kids (ages 6+)

This game is a difficult one to review because it doesn’t depend on the age of the player, but rather depends on the financial maturity of the player.

Some parents found the game boring for their 6-8 year olds, whilst others found it very useful and education for their 8-10 year olds.  This game would be more suited to children who are still learning the foundations of ‘money in’ and ‘money out’ and understanding the concept that if you get more money in than money out, that’s how you get ahead.

Cashflow For Kids vs Cashflow 101

Children with a more sophisticated understanding of money or children who have played Monopoly may get bored with this game quite quickly. If your child already have basic understanding about how money works, it may be better to buy Cashflow 101, the more mature version of the game.

However, Cashflow 101 is better suited for teenagers and adults, due to its complexity in rules and concepts. So if your child isn’t quite that age yet, it may be best to wait until your child is older and in the meantime, explore the other money board games instead.

Cashflow for Kids vs Monopoly

One difference between this game and Monopoly is that it doesn’t have to be a competitive game where one player wins and the others lose. In Cashflow for Kids a player ‘wins’ the game when his or her passive income exceeds expenses – so it is possible for multiple ‘winners’ as and when the child accumulates sufficient passive income.  In addition, Cashflow For Kids is about building your own passive income, rather than bankrupting the other players.


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Allowance (Ages: 5 – 7 years old)

Similar in concept to Monopoly, this game gives an allowance to the player every time he or she passes the home square.  Each square on the board has a money-exchange action – either the player earns money from doing chores or spends money.  There are also simple decisions to be made – do you deposit money in the bank so that each time you again land on the bank square, you will be paid interest? Or do you save up that money in the hope that you will land on a lemonade stand and be able to buy that business so that when other players land on that space, they have to pay you for a glass of lemonade?

What does this game teach?

It teaches the difference between wants and needs.

It teaches kids to make decisions about what to spend their money on - sometimes we have to save our money for unexpected expenses such as overdue library books.

It teaches kids about earning money from doing chores.

It teaches kids about the different money denominations.

What are the negatives?

The currency is denominated in US dollars.  If you’re playing this outside of the US, use real money so that you’re using your own local to teach your children about what the denominations might look like.

Some parents find the decisions spaces limited – ie. decide to put money in the bank and decide whether to buy a business. This can be modified by making new cards yourselves and sticking it over those earning and spending spaces that you want to replace.

This game may be too easy or boring for the older children, hence is best played between the ages of 5 years old and 7 years old.

The rule of the game is that the player who saves up $20 wins the game. Some parents find this either too easy or too difficult to achieve, depending on the age group playing the game. This rule can be changed to whatever saving target you think is appropriate for your children.

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Pay Day (ages 6+)

This game was originally made in 1970s. Various versions have been made since that time, each with its own changes. The 1990s version (savings account feature of the 1970s version is removed); the 2000s version (“Big Pay Day”) and the 2011 version (“Classic Edition”) which is a modernisation of the original version.

The positives

You set how long the game will go for – the board itself is a calendar month of 31 days. As a rule of thumb, you set aside 1 hour to play a 2-month period of the game. So if you want to play for 4 months, you’d set aside approximately 2 hours. It teaches children how to manage their money until pay day – they learn to count money, the concept of a loan, interest on money in the bank, budgeting, etc.

The negatives

On the downside, some parents don’t like the modern versions of the game as it introduces some of the concepts which we do not wish to expose our children to, whilst taking away concepts of the original version which we want our children to be exposed to – for example, the concept of savings and buying insurance that was in the original version is removed in the later versions, the introduction of more sweepstakes and lottery in the more modern version is undesirable as it could encourage gambling. The modern versions also have larger denominations of currency, which may not be realistic for younger children who are not exposed to large amounts of money.

Overall verdict:

This is the family favourite at the moment with all my children - they keep asking to play it!  My children have learnt the difficult concepts of 'value' and 'cost' and also what it means to pay the bank interest.  They also understand that the interest rate on a loan and interest on a savings account are not the same!

It’s a great game to play with kids to teach them money management skills and it’s worth spending a bit more to get your hands on the original 1970s version. The original version isn't as colourful and the pictures may be a bit tacky, but it is the substance of the game that is more important.