Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew
Reviewing the PersonalFinanceLab Budgeting Game, Stock Market Game and integrated curriculum from PersonalFinanceLab.com was an easy decision. My 9th grade son was just finishing up a personal finance class and really interested in the topic and my 7th grade daughter had been asking questions about investing, her college fund, and other financial topics. We were excited to have a game they could play that would also help them learn more about those critical life skills.
There are three main parts to this program: Budget Game, Stock Market Game, and Curriculum. We used all three but focused on the two games and using family discussions to extend the learning as they were playing the games.
I started by setting up accounts in the budget game for both my 9th and 7th grade students. This game set the players up as college students with part time employment. As the administrator of the game, I could make changes to various expenses and situations. For example, the default budget had a car payment, but since my children already have plans to pay cash for a used car I took that payment out of the equation.
Once the game starts, the players have to pay the bills each month, decide how to spend their time (studying, working, playing), and deal with unexpected events (flat tire, medical bill, etc). Not only did the game keep track of the financial budget numbers but also looked at quality of life and other factors. This was to help students realize that working all the time would increase their budget but also decrease the time they had to study or the time they had with friends and family. It brought up some really good conversations about balance.
When I set up the game I was able to choose whether it stayed with the student/part time job or if I wanted them to graduate and move onto full time employment. I set it up to allow them to move onto full time employment so that they could learn more about the benefits and challenges that would face them as they begin their first full time jobs in a few years.
Thoughts and Opinions
Each ‘month’ in the budget game only took about fifteen or twenty minutes to complete and both of my children enjoyed playing. They also enjoyed competing to try and get the best results.
When talking to the children, my daughter mentioned that she learned about the difference between debit and credit cards and my son said he learned more about using a limited income and how unexpected expenses could affect your budget. They both said they would recommend the game for anyone ages 11-16 that was interested in learning more about how to handle their money.
Stock Market Game
My children enjoyed the budget game but I think it is safe to say, that the Stock Market Game was the family favorite. In addition to setting up accounts for the two children who did the budget game, I also set one up for my husband.
The children were so excited to compete against him in the game and it gave him a good chance to really try the game out and be able to discuss what they were learning. They are continuing to play the game, but currently my husband is in the lead! (Hopefully this bodes well for his ability to manage our retirement accounts.)
Each player started with $100,000. When I set up the challenge I could change what types of investments that they had available, how long the challenge would last, various rules for trading, and I could include assorted lessons and videos to help them understand the process and some of the terminology/trading concepts.
In the interest of honesty, I did not even fully understand some of the options I was giving them and how it all worked. While we hold mutual funds and other investments for retirement, I have never spent much time studying the stock market or looking at individual stocks or equities. However, set up was easy and they were provided with a lot of great information in the videos and lessons to help them more fully understand their options.
One of the first things that my husband noted was how realistic the platform was and how up to date the data was. We knew it was supposed to be based on real life data, but he would check it against the app he used on his phone to keep track of our investments and found it to match up well.
Thoughts and Opinions
I loved that the children were excited to play the game, and enjoyed checking it each day before we sat down to lunch or dinner so that they could discuss it with their dad. With the pandemic and political situations, the market has been a little volatile and it was a great chance for them to better understand how things could change quickly.
The children appreciated that there were a variety of different investments they could choose from, the competitive aspect of it, and that it used real stock prices.
They did think that it was a little bit challenging to figure it all out in the beginning because there was a lot of available information and options. However, both agreed that once they got going with it, it was easy to use and they want to continue to use it. They felt like the program was best for ages 11-up. It could even be used by an adult that wanted to learn more about investing and the stock market.
Since we were using this program as a fun game and a follow up to another personal finance course, I did not require my children to complete the entire curriculum. They did use several of the videos to get a better understanding of components they were not already familiar with. For example, they watched a video on different types of stocks. When I went in to set up the challenge, I could require which ever lessons that I wanted to and it was easy to set up.
If you wanted to use this as a full course, you could simply require the lessons and have a complete personal finance course. The lessons included both articles and videos on everything from navigating the program, trading stocks, credit score, and net worth. There were also different levels for lessons depending on your child’s age or experience.
Overall, this review was a huge success in our house. The children loved it and my husband and I felt like it was a great learning opportunity and opened up the doors to some great conversations. It is important to us that we give our children a good foundation in financial literacy as we prepare them for adulthood. This program was a great tool in working toward that goal.
If you are interested in learning more about the stock market or have a student that is ready to learn about budgeting or investing make sure to check out PersonalFinanceLab.com. You can also click on the graphic below to see how other families used these games in the homes.