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Money Management Skills

Posted On: 2006-12-04Length: 4:49

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How do you teach kids to save, and to develop real world money handling skills? One answer might be with games. We'll check some out in this Fidelity Personal Finance podcast.

The upcoming holiday season arrives with the nation's average personal savings rate at an all-time low. Throughout the first half of 2006, the savings rate of U.S. citizens has been hovering around -1%. The U.S. savings rate first slipped into negative territory in 2005. In contrast, from 1950 to 1980, Americans saved about 9% of their after-tax income, that's according to a report titled "Personal Income and Outlays," published in June 2006 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce. Education is one way to help the next generation fill up its piggy banks. And it may not hurt to start early.

When considering a gift for the important children in your life this holiday season, why not give them something that's not only fun, but also helps imparts basic money management skills, says Mark Blacher, senior vice president for marketing at Hasbro Games. The best part about board games, such as Monopoly or the game of Life, is that they teach kids about money in a way that is so much fun, they don't even realize they're learning. The classic game Monopoly now comes in dozens of versions, including Monopoly Junior for young kids ages 5 to 8. Children accumulate positions on the board, erect hotels, charge rent, and hopefully amass a fortune. Mark Blacher says saving for a rainy day, learning to project ahead, and watching out for bankruptcy are all learned by playing this game. And this fall, families will have a new way to play the classic game, with the introduction of the Monopoly Here and Now edition.

Here's a sampling of other games that allows kids to handle money by making change, breaking bills, adding up money, and learning different denominations. There's the game of Life, from Hasbro, for ages 9+. In this game, children can imitate life's most exciting moments, like going to college and getting married. But, they can learn to handle money in some of life's pitfalls, like losing a job. To play the board game, kids follow Life's path, collect money, experience life events, and do good deeds to earn life tiles. At the end of the game players add up their money and the values of their life tiles to determine the winner. That's the person with the largest amount of money left. Life is a game that makes children think by challenging them to learn and problem solve through life's bumpy road.

Or how about the Allowance game from Lakeshore Learning Materials for ages 5+. The object of this board game is simple: be the first to accumulate $20. Along the way, you'll encounter opportunities to add to your stash by babysitting for $3.50, mowing the lawn worth $2.25, or cleaning the garage, for only $1.25, among other chores. Earnings may also come from improving your report card or losing a tooth-both good for a buck. But it's just as likely that you'll need to cut into your pile of dough. Those new school supplies cost $2.25 and an overdue library book will set you back sixty cents.

Then, there's the ATM Safe Electronic Savings Bank from Wild Planet for ages 8+. It's an advanced piggy bank with an automatic dollar bill feeder and coin inserter, along with an ATM card, and a personal identification number, or PIN, you use to take your money out. If you lose the card, don't worry. You can still get in. At the same time, the talking bank keeps track of deposits and withdrawals...

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