In honor of the fact that April is Financial Education Month, it makes sense to consider ways to get your children interested in smart money practices. One way to encourage financial learning is through game apps, like this one from Regions Bank.
Teaching kids about money can be difficult. I know that sometimes it?s a pain to introduce certain financial concepts to my son. We try to help him learn about making good decisions, and encourage him to save money for the future, as well as for short-term expenses. Overall, he does reasonably well. However, I?ve discovered that, as with music lessons, outcomes are often better if someone else does the teaching and I reinforce.
This is where a financial learning app like the Regions Scholar Athlete Game comes in. This is a free financial learning app that takes kids through four years of college. Throughout the game, teens are expected to make choices about what to do with their money, while at the same time balancing study, work, sports practice, and entertainment.
I enjoyed the game, and I also turned it over to my son, who loved it and has added it to his own phone to play. He bombed out partway through his junior year, but he?s determined to do better, and won?t rest until he has managed to ?beat? the game.
Making Decisions About Money Management
One of the things I like about this financial learning app is that it requires you to make decisions about money management. You are set up with a job that offers you $600 a pay period, and you also have regular bills (hint: set your bills to autopay and you don?t have to worry about making sure they are on time).
The Scholar Athlete game also outfits you with student loans, and book costs. However, if you practice your golf swing enough to do well in the tournament at the end of the year, you can earn a scholarship. This reduces your costs in future years, and can help you build your cash reserve.
Throughout the year, you have to make tradeoffs, all while trying to keep various meters properly full. You have a happiness meter, a study meter, and a golf meter. All of these represent aspects of your life that need to be balanced. Throughout the school year, you use allotted time for various activities. Your work time is automatically deducted at the beginning (and you can choose to cut your hours ? and pay ? if you want).
Each time you do something to bring up one meter, it affects the others, and it might cost you money. For instance, if I choose to read a book, it will reduce my study and golf practice time, but increase my happiness. It doesn?t cost me any money, either.
At various points throughout each year, you will also be confronted with unexpected choices and expenses. You might have to choose between upgrading your cell phone and getting satellite TV. You might need to choose between saving up for a computer and buying one outright. Other expenses, like a trip, might also come up.
One of the things that resulted in my son?s downfall is that his hours at work were unexpectedly cut in half. Throughout the game, instead of saving money (you get extra points each time you transfer money from checking to savings) each pay period, he had been spending it. He didn?t have anything to draw on, and after a couple billing periods and an unexpected expense, he was out of money, and the game was over.
We talked about some of the choices he made that led to the disaster, and when he started the game again, he made it a point to practice golf a little more to earn a scholarship (something he hadn?t done, either), and to save money rather than spend it. He?s not done with round two, but it?s looking more promising for him this time around.
After seeing the impact of some of his choices, and learning that budgeting our time matters, my son is interested in paying better attention to what he does in his own life. I don?t know if it will stick, but overall I found the Regions Bank financial learning app a great resource. It provides an opening for you to talk to your teens about money and life choices, and it also offers a reasonably realistic view of the money issues facing you as you grow up.
Overall, this is an enjoyable game. Getting used to how the golf portion of the game works was a little frustrating at times, but other than that, I really liked the intuitive interface and the money lessons taught.
Disclosure: This blog post was written for Regions Bank pursuant to a paid content arrangement I have with the company?s representatives. All views expressed are entirely my own, and were not influenced or directed by Regions Bank.