Teach Your Kids to Be a Loan Shark

Raise your hands if you are having a great Shark Week so far? I know I am.

Kids love sharks. Especially baby sharks (do do do do-do-do). I hope kids are learning lots about sharks. Did you know that sharks can teach you about money?

I found a shark who will teach your kid (or you, if you are a kid) how interest works. I’ve got an easy job of putting just a few words of an introduction together. The great people from Nex Gen Personal Finance are doing all the work. I love it when I can work smarter, not harder. Thanks, Nex Gen Personal Finance!

A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for something unrelated on the internet and stumbled upon this gem from the Nex Gen Interactive Library. You get to play the “bad guy” as you try to maximize profits from all the delicious victims that enter your office looking to borrow money.

Shady Sam Loan Shark

I made it so that you either click on the title or the image to play the game. It isn’t as easy as you think. I got a few wrong. I think it might be best for kids in the 4th grade or higher, perhaps ideally in the 5th or 6th grade.

I’m keeping it short today. It gives you more time for learning.

Originally Published: 7/26/2022

Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

Read more on the About page.

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16 Cheap Sleepover Ideas

My kids are just getting old enough for sleepovers and I’m not 100% sure if I’m ready for it. With these cheap sleepover ideas, at least I don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money. There are so many fun things for tweens and teens to do that are cheap or even free. In the end, slumber parties are all about spending time with friends.

Get Prepared

Before we get to the sleepover ideas, let’s get prepared.

If your child is going to someone else’s house, they’ll need pajamas, pillows/pillowcases, blankets, sleeping bags… and some tips on how to win a pillow fight. My strategy is to block first, then swing while their pillow is down.

The Main Event

1. Movie night

Set up a movie marathon and invite friends over to watch some of their favorite films. Pair it with a popcorn bar. Everyone gets to flavor their own popcorn. This great popcorn popper is around $15. As a bonus, you’ve already got snacks covered.

2. Game night

Have a variety of board games, card games, and video games available for everyone to play. Everyone can bring their favorite and the group can vote. You’ll certainly have more than enough options.

3. Make Friendship Bracelets

Making bracelets is one of my favorite cheap activities. In fact, you can start a business making bracelets.

4. Makover Party

I don’t have teen girls, but I’ve seen enough movies to know that makeovers are popular with them. (Err, everything in movies is true, right?) Don’t tell anyone but even my boys have experimented doing their nails. As a bonus nail polish can be used in a lot of other crafts. Don’t forget lipstick, blush, face masks, eye-liner, or whatever make-up things that girls wear that I know nothing about.

5. Craft night

Have a variety of craft materials available for friends to make their own jewelry, bracelets, or other crafts.

6. Murder mystery night

Everyone loves a good murder mystery! This one takes a little planning. I’m sure there are dozens of articles just a quick Google search away to help you.

7. Time capsule

Kids can putting small mementos in a box, write letters to future selves, and then seal it up with a plan to open it in the future.

8. Baking party

Bake a batch of cookies or cupcakes and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles. As a bonus, you can skip the next section: “Snack Time”

9. Snack Time!

Don’t forget to plan a snack time (unless you are doing the popcorn bar from above. You can choose from all the classic sleepover food groups: candy, cookies, chips, and chocolate.

Fun Sleepover Games

10. Scavenger/Treasure hunt

Create a scavenger/treasure hunt around the house. Teams of two teens can solve puzzles and find the next clue until they get to the final destination.

11. Dance Competition

Dancing with friends is always fun, right? If there’s a friend who doesn’t like to dance, they can be the judge!

Dinner Ideas

Every good sleepover involves dinner.

12. DIY pizza

Get together to make homemade pizzas with a variety of toppings.

13. Pot Luck

Each guest can bring a dish that they made before the sleepover party

Sleep Time

14. Indoor camping

Set up tents inside and have a camping-themed sleepover complete with roasting marshmallows. You can create a spooky theme starting with a horror movies for the main event and following up with ghost stories.

Summertime Ideas

If it’s summertime (or you live in a warm area) there are a number of ideas you can explore.

15. Outdoor movie night

(This one may not be so cheap. It’s only cheap if you have the equipment or a friend who does.) Set up a projector and screen in the backyard and have a movie night under the stars. (Projectors are getting cheaper and perhaps a cheap bed sheet can be used.)

16. Pool party

Step one: Buy an expensive pool.
Step two: Have a cheap pool party.

I’m joking with this one. It’s obviously cheating to use an expensive pool. However, if you already have one, might as well take advantage of it.

Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

Read more on the About page.

If you enjoyed this article please Support Kid Wealth

The Allowance Game (Board Game Review)

Allowance Game

Phew! The kids are back in school after a long Thanksgiving break. Before they returned, we had a lot of fun at home playing board games. One of the games we played for the first time was The Allowance Game by Lakeshore Learning. I bought this game a few years ago, but we never got a chance to open it and play it.

Before I get to the game, I’d like to introduce you to Lakeshore Learning. There aren’t too many physical Lakeshore Learning stores around, but if you have one near you, you are in for a treat! Many Lakeshore Learning products are made for teachers to use in the classroom. However, there’s so much for parents to bring home and educate their kids. If you are homeschooling, I bet it has nearly everything you’d ever need.

Lakeshore has two products that caught my attention. One is the Lakeshore Multiplication Machine and the other is, of course, the Lakeshore Allowance Game. I didn’t know much about The Allowance Game, but sign me up for any game that teaches kids about money. (The Multiplication Machine is outstanding. I’m a strong believer that solid math skills are a great complement to a kid’s financial literacy education.)

Enough about Lakeshore learning itself. Let’s move on to the review of the Allowance Game:

What is The Allowance Game

The Allowance Game is a Monopoly-style game board where players go around the board, landing on squares to make money. The first player to $20 is the winner. Unlike Monopoly, there is almost no strategy to the game. You land on an “earn” square or a “spend” square. For example, you could earn 50 cents for walking the neighbor’s dog, but you could spend $2.25 buying school supplies. Typically you earn for doing chores or getting good grades.

Some squares, like “forgetting your homework,” can cause you to lose a turn. That means fewer times passing “Home” and collecting $2.

There are a lot more earn or receive squares than spend squares. Otherwise, it would be hard for someone to get the $20 necessary to win. Our game centered around one of my sons getting lucky enough to land on the “birthday” square twice. That’s $5 each time. My other son and I missed it, and we couldn’t compete.

Two squares require a little strategy. There’s a bank square and a lemonade stand square. On the bank square, a player can choose to deposit $2 and earn 50 cents every time they land on the square in the future. The $2 deposit counts towards the $20 you need to win the game. I landed on the bank square early and never landed on it again to get my 50 cents. The son who won the game had the same experience.

The lemonade stand square acts more like Monopoly property. You spend $1, and you own it. Then you collect 40 cents when other players land on it. (They are buying lemonade from you.) My son, who lost, bought the lemonade stand, and no one landed on it again. That’s how business goes sometimes.

There’s one thing that’s a little different from most games. The instructions are printed on the bottom of the box. If you pick up a second-hand version, you may think the previous owner lost the instructions.

What Kids Learn from The Allowance Game

The strength in this game shines when each kid acts as their own banker. (Allowance is designed for everyone to be a banker with the money in the middle of the board.) As the banker, the kids do a lot of math, counting, and making change as they go around the board. They are working with coins (nickels, dimes, and quarters – no pennies) and making change with single dollar bills and five dollar bills.

I regret not playing it years ago when my kids were 5, 6, or 7. They still enjoyed the game at (almost) 9 and 10, but they may have been happy to play ANY game.

What’s Bad About The Allowance Game

There are not too many negatives about the game. The biggest one, I would say, is equating spending with negative consequences. You lose a dollar giving to charity. You lose $1.20 at a garage sale. Charity shouldn’t be a negative, and garage sales are generally frugal. Fortunately, there aren’t many of these squares.

A few spend squares are buying bubble gum, playing a video game, or forgetting a library book. I think it’s fine to associate these with negative consequences.

The lemonade stand experience of spending a dollar backfired in our game, which isn’t a great introduction to entrepreneurship.

Final Thoughts Lakeshore Learning’s Allowance Game

The Allowance Game is one of a few valuable first money experiences that I can recommend. The age on the box says 5+, and I’d say it’s good for 5-9 years old. You don’t want to go much younger than that because math can be difficult. You’ll want to keep it away from younger siblings as the coins could be a hazard – small parts that can wind up in a mouth.

It’s a fun way to learn the basics of cash and some ways that people can make and spend money. You can always buy a copy at Amazon. If this doesn’t seem like a game you are interested in, check out some of other games that teach kids about money.

Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

Read more on the About page.

If you enjoyed this article please Support Kid Wealth

Best Money Board Games

Today’s article is a work-in-progress. My wife’s tested positive for COVID (she’s vaccinated and boosted, so just needs rest) and we had a few big emergencies come up. There are a ton of board games that can help kids learn about money. For now, we’ll cover a few. In the coming months, I’ll revise it adding more games.

Board games are a great way to teach kids about money. Why not learn basic money management during family game night?

When you think about the best money board games, Monopoly instantly comes to mind. However, Monopoly isn’t the only “game” in town. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Best Money Board Games

Best Money Board Games for Younger Kids

Allowance by LakeShore

The best board game to teach your kids about money is LakeShore’s Allowance Game. You earn money for doing things like mowing the lawn, but you can lose money if you break a window. Like all the other board games you use play money which is good for learning math concepts like addition and subtraction. This one adds coins to the mix which is great for learning decimals.

Official Recommend Age: 5-11
Our Recommended Age: 5-11
Players: 2-4

You can find Allowance on Amazon here

Money Bags Coin Value Game

This is path/journey game (like Candyland or Sum Swamp) that involves counting coins and making change. In addition to money, players will learn addition and subtraction.

Making Change
Early Math Skills (addition, subtraction)
Official Recommend Age: 5-11
Our Recommended Age: 4-8
Players: 2-4

You can find Money Bags Coin Value on Amazon here.

The Game of Life

Many people forget about the classic game of Life as a money board game. It’s a game that whole family can play, Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but a friend had a newer version of Life and I didn’t like very much.

My favorite thing about Life is the career choice at the very beginnning of the game. Unfortunately, we live in a world where financial success depends greatly on the career path that one chooses. In the classic version of this game, you can’t directly choose a career in Life, but you can choose to go to college to set yourself up with higher earning career paths.

Career Choice
Early Math Skills (addition, subtraction)

You can find The Game of Life on Amazon here.

Honorable Mention Money Game for Kids

Not all games have to deal directly with money to build money skills. Money skills are often closely related to math skills. That’s why it can also be good to look into Uno (make sure the kids do the scoring).

Dishonorable Mention Money Game for Kids

Cashflow and Cashflow for Kids

This game is by the creator of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. While some find it to be an inspirational book, experts have criticized it and labeled it one of the worst personal finance books. Additionally, author Rober Kiyosaki recommends VERY bad ideas that can get people into tons of big credit card debt.

I only know a few people who have played the game for older kids and they didn’t give it good reviews. At $80, it is the most expensive game here. I think Rich Dad is just looking to get rich off of you.

Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

Read more on the About page.

If you enjoyed this article please Support Kid Wealth