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Using Monopoly or similar games for teaching personal financial education

16 replies [Last post]
Joined: 06/23/2009

I have unexpectedly been given the task at work to plan a two-day board-gaming tournament for summer schools in the Middle East. The purpose is mainly a media event to kickstart and build support for long term financial literacy over there.

The actual games have not yet been decided (that will be part of my job once I get over there), but they will be games like 'Monopoly' or 'Game of Life' that we can buy off the shelf in sufficient quantity very quickly, and that are easy for children and teachers to pick up. They have to be commercial games - this project isn't to design a game.

The main thing I'll have to do is look at the financial literacy learning outcomes that can come out of playing such games. These could be things like setting and attaining goals, making choices, examining what money means, reflecting on risks and rewards, etc.

Beforehand there'll be a one-day training session for the teachers from the various schools, in which they'll learn to run the tournament and facilitate the learning. They'll also have a go at the games!

On each of the two days of the tournment, each school will run ten games at once in a gym or hall. The school winners enter a final with another game (so we need two different games).

There'll also be a one-day teacher training day so they can learn how to run the tourament, facilitate the learning and also just have a go at the games.

I'm interested to hear if anyone has done anything similar, and is happy to pass on their experiences?

metzgerism's picture
Joined: 06/19/2009
Neither game you mention is

Neither game you mention is very interesting nor educational, and I would point you towards the General Gaming section of the BoardGameGeek forums instead of this site - you really have the wrong site for this sort of question.

red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009
lucky teacher, lucky students

You are so lucky to be able to organize this event. I have had the chance to play games with my students on make up days and last classes, but if you get to build in learning outcomes, I think that sounds like a double bonus.

Games to play... I agree that Monopoly and Life, especially the latter, may not be very educational or dynamic for your students. I did hear about a game called Acquire which is about investing in businesses. It's not literally about having a budget, but it sounds like it involves making calculated decisions about value and return. People who have actually played it can correct me if I'm wrong. Here is the description of the game from it might be suit your needs.

Acquire is a "Sid Sackson classic [that] has taken many different forms over the years depending on the publisher. Each player strategically invests in businesses, trying to retain a majority of stock. As the businesses grow with tile placements, they also start merging, giving the majority stockholders of the acquired business sizable bonuses, which can then be used to reinvest into other chains. All of the investors in the acquired company can then cash in their stocks for current value or trade them 2-for-1 for shares of the newer, larger business. The game is a race to acquire the greatest wealth."

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
Settlers of Catan is actually

Settlers of Catan is actually what I usually suggest as a replacement for Monopoly- it has resource gathering and utilization, trading and planning for the future, but the decisions you make actually have an impact on the end result of the game. it also plays MUCH more quickly than monopoly (about half the time, or less) and is readily available (on the shelves at Toys R Us and Target even). The turn structure is also easy to teach (roll the dice to see what resources people get, trade resources with people, build things with your resources).

Acquire is also a good choice, as would be most auction-based games (Modern Art is nice and simple) or trading-based games (like Bohnanza), I imagine.

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008

Arteis wrote:
The main thing I'll have to do is look at the financial literacy learning outcomes that can come out of playing such games. These could be things like setting and attaining goals, making choices, examining what money means, reflecting on risks and rewards, etc.
There are many, many good modern games that meet these criteria.

The one I'd like to point at is Dominion: You set and attain short and long term goals. You make choices every turn. Money has a specific role in the game, as do your choices about how much and when to purchase it. Etc...:

Given the likely budget and the stated scope of the convention, I think that Monopoly is a pretty appropriate choice. The cash in that isn't abstracted and its use is straightforward and obvious. Settlers is a nice suggestion, but the money in that game may be too abstract for the attendees to really absorb the desired lesson.

Best of luck!

bluepantherllc's picture
Joined: 07/29/2008
Financial Literacy

If you're looking to show alot in a short time, take a look at "For Sale".

In 30-60 minutes you'll go over auctions, supply and demand, some basic valuations, money-handling, buying and selling.


Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
Monopoly experience

I recommend you read this teacher review on his experience. You can also contact him on BGG.

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
To be honest

To be honest, I think you could try to relate to their own history to make it simpler for them to grasp the elements of economy faster. Middle East is a complex scenario of different nationalities, so this may vary depending where you actually are performing your task. Monopoly can be too shocking or out-of-place for some people (not to mention Life).

My recomendation includes:
For trade
Samarkand: Routes to Riches (2010) here
For building
Alhambra (2003) here
For production
At the Gates of Loyang (2009) here

Keep thinking!

Joined: 02/16/2010

The first thing that I can mention, since an appropriate game didn't come to mind yet, is playtime.

"On each of the two days of the tournment, each school will run ten games at once in a gym or hall. The school winners enter a final with another game (so we need two different games)."

Ten games at once, means 10 winners come out of the first session right? Then you would need a second session where two or three games are played simultaneously, out of which 3 winners will emerge. Then you need a third game to decide the school's winner.

This would make monopoly a very bad choice, since it takes about three hours (often more) to play one game. I can do some research, maybe I can find the perfect game for this project, because I love the idea! I would urge you to make playtime as a major factor when deciding on the game.

Which country are you going to?

Joined: 02/16/2010
After some research

Ok, I did some research.

It's quite difficult to search in such a huge collection of games that are available when I don't know exactly the playtime, number of players and age of the students but here are some suggestions that I think are at least superior to Monopoly. All of them are in print so you should be able to buy enough.

Ra (classic auction game)
Bridge Troll (western fantasy economic/bluffing game) see the review here:
Jaipur (this one might be best but it's a 2 player game) see the review here:
Samarkand (economic/transport) like suggested before 3-5 players in half an hour (always count longer for first time players)

Hope this helps and please let us know what you have decided.

gargi (not verified)
Their is a great art thanks

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Tamara's picture
Joined: 02/17/2011
I failed at monopoly, but mock stock trading works great!

mock stock trading maybe isn't the best teacher of "personal finance", but it definitely got the kids interested! Monopoly was just a disaster for me. Half the pieces were lost, the fake money was stolen (why?? don't ask me...), it was just a disaster. The stock trading game was fun because the kids really felt like they were part of something very financially advanced. It also helped them learn the basics of financial markets without boring them to death. My team ended up getting 2nd place in the state!


ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
game choice

Monopoly is a crappy, awful game, with no real choices and very little in the way of budgeting, beyond "can I afford this space I landed on, or not?". It also takes too long and is simply Not Fun for at least half that time. Life has no budgeting to speak of, and only one significant choice (college vs. no college) which has little bearing on general game play. For both games, you might as well just roll a die and collect that many dollars, for all the teaching on finances they actually do (to say nothing of how boring they are).

I would definitely second "Settlers" as it is widely available, even internationally, language-independent, and relatively easy to pick up and play. Get enough copies that you can play 3 people per board, if possible.

An article from the Wall Street Journal about Settlers' utility as a financial teaching tool:

But basically, if your goal is to actually teach financial literacy you couldn't go wrong with just about ANY of the top 50 games in the "auction" or "trading" headings on BGG (many games are in both categories!).

Trading (~1,900 games listed):

Auction/Bidding (~2000 games listed):

Obviously there will be much overlap between the two. You can sort the lists by ranking and then check out the top 50 or so in each category and you can't go wrong. You'd certainly do better than crapfests like Monopoly and Life.

There are more games in "commodity speculation" and its subcategory "stock holding" that might be worth checking out too (again, plenty of overlap with the above two):

Ideally you should decide and acquire your game of choice BEFORE you leave, and just carry them in a suitcase or ship them overseas. It might be difficult to easily acquire some of these abroad, particularly if you need them quickly, but many of these are printed in Europe as well as the US, and/or can be shipped internationally if need be.

Joined: 03/01/2011
Great stuffs!!

Good post. I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this.Very informative and information presented very well,i really liked reading your post which has delivered a great information about using games for teaching personal financial education,I really feel that by using the ganes we can achieve that.more games can be I Spy Game,Money Match Game,etc

End of Time Games
End of Time Games's picture
Joined: 04/16/2009
games that teach financial literacy..

Looking for games that teach financial literacy? Honestly I can't recomend anything better then the "Cashflow" by the Rich Dad company.

Problem is that it's hunky investment for a game. It's patented. Though it is played as an educational tool more then for fun. A tool to learn how winners handle money. Not, the basics of how to save etc. In my opinion it is worth it's money price! Also it is best played in groups of people that are serious about improving their financial literacy. It is a fun learning experience!

I have played this game in groups a couple times. It was very interesting how each individual approached the game. The winner or the person to get out of the "rat race" is the one who applies the knowledge and also who thinks unconventionally about spending.

I don't enjoy monopoly as a fun activity. I'm pretty bored with it! Even the skyscraper version is ok but not much better. However, I will not deny that monopoly has some vary real educational value with regard to real estate investing. "Four green houses-red hotel" is a simple formula that applies in the real world.

In my opinion, Monopoly may be cheap but I wonder if the participants are really going to gain anything that is worth remembering from the experience.

Chashflow is expensive, but the lasting value and enormous and will be more impactfull on the participants. There are actually many groups all over the world who get together to practice this game.

Joined: 01/31/2011

I will also recommend Cashflow as a teaching tool to learn the principles of knowing where your money is going. Monopoly is checkers, Cashflow is chess.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
Rich Dad, Poor Garbage

$195?! Either the game better include some solid gold, or the whole thing is just an extended real-life example of itself: want to make money? forget buying properties or investing. just design something that claims to make people rich, and charge a fortune for it!

Ah, yes. I was right. If Cashflow is Chess, then Chutes and Ladders is Go.

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