I remember when I was a kid, I had lots of games that required imagination, and one of my favorite was playing with fake money. I had a purse, and a wallet, complete with printed plastic cards that looked like real credit cards. They had animals printed on it and they were more like the kind you collect until you have them all, but they were perfect to pretend pay at my pretend shops. It was never about credit though. All my fake money was in a safe and I was regularly paying creditors as well. Such simple games can really help kids get a head start with their finances.
Money can be a game, with strong value behind it. For example, you can give your kids fun personalized personal checks, but behind it there is still real money that needs to be carefully considered before your kid spends it.
You don’t start creating those games on your own. My parents must have planted a seed early on, because rather than dolls and castles, I always wanted to play shopkeeper. My sister was my main customer, and to this day, she is less entrepreneurial and money oriented than I am. I have to thank my parents though for giving us both a strong financial education.
Can you imagine living in a world where parents never tell you about money? In my own little childhood world, it was impossible, because my parents put emphasis on us knowing the price of things. They would tell us how hard they had to work so we could go on holiday, how buying us X would prevent us from getting Y, and how waiting for another six month meant we could afford Z.
We would be allowed to buy something only if we had saved for it. As teenagers, we could get new clothes but if we wanted the fancy kind, we had to pay for the markup with our pocket money.
My parents also never stopped talking about the day we would be independent, and made it pretty clear that it would be around 18. When I was left on my own at 17, during my freshman year of college, I had only a small scholarship to pay for all my expenses. Thankfully, tuition was cheap, but I had learned the value of money, and credit was not an option. I took odd jobs, worked hard, and even managed to graduate with savings.
The little money games of my childhood, for as insignificant as they may seem, played a big part in making me the financially sound adult that I am today. So if you have kids, seriously make it a point to teach them about money, they will thank you later.