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Learn By Doing: Best Online Financial Literacy Games

March 25, 2013
Banking, Personal Finance
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“Learn by doing” is often taken to mean that the best way to understand something is by making an activity out of it. Interaction helps the brain develop. Reading and lectures can help with your learning progress, but the ideal path to improving education is active, rather than passive. Recent studies have shown that children who play video games tend to be more creative than those who don’t. Video games force you to make decisions, engaging your brain on multiple levels, including planning, reasoning and problem solving. Variety is the spice of life, and your brain needs a variety of mental exercises to grow.

Online Financial Literacy Games Activate Your Brain

Online financial literacy games tackle a very pressing matter: the poor state of financial education in our country. Only 13 states have financial literacy classes that high school students are required to take in order to graduate. A 2010 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 56% of respondents don’t have a budget, and 5% don’t keep track of their spending. This country needs better financial education, especially for students who are quickly approaching adulthood and financial independence. Fortunately, there are a few tech-savvy companies and institutions dedicated to increasing financial literacy in young people. They help kids, teens and young adults develop financial skills with games that encourage quick thinking and decision-making.

Fun, Not Boring

You may be skeptical. How could learning about finance be fun? And while there are some online education games that are lacking in the fun department, these games win points for breaking the mold. They have actual storylines and great production values, and they manage to help you learn vital money management skills without making you feel like you’re in a classroom. Whether they’re solving a case of investment fraud, running a vampire nightclub, building a career in show business, or taking part in a complete virtual world, students will learn how financial concepts impact their daily life. And not all of these games are for students: some of them have content for consumers of all ages. Check out our picks for best online financial literacy games, and see how financially literate you are.

Most Addictive Games: Financial Entertainment – Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D)

D2D Fund is dedicated to improving financial capability. They created Financial Entertainment to make finance, well, entertaining! They have a series of addicting games, all of which impart financial education in a fun and unique way. Bite Club puts you in charge of a vampire nightclub and challenges you to make yours the hottest spot in town, so you can save up for your eternal retirement. Celebrity Calamity gives you the difficult task of managing celebrity credit cards and spending. Their financial security rests in your hands. In Farm Blitz, you must take care of your farm by planting crops and watching out for financial troublemakers like rabbits that destroy your crops. Groove Nation provides you with a limited budget and you must find a way to fund your dream of winning a dance competition. Refund Rush gives you the chance to shape your customers’ future as a tax adviser. The power of wealth is in your hands. The opposite of mindless, these games challenge your brain and your reflexes.

Most Complete Virtual Life: Mindblown Life – Mindblown Labs

Ever wanted to live a virtual life? Mindblown Labs, an educational technology company, wants to help you develop financial responsibility through an immersive social game. Mindblown Life will give you real-life financial knowledge while you build a lifestyle from the ground up. Pick an avatar, choose a profession, and make your way to the top (or bottom) by making crucial decisions to earn more Money, Skills and Reputation. With Mindblown Life, everything comes down to you—where you live, what you spend your money on, and how well you do at your job. You can chat with real-life friends, go anywhere and do pretty much anything (just don’t forget to take care of yourself, because even your virtual self needs food). Did we mention that it has a great soundtrack? Mindblown Life is a full-scale virtual reality that helps you become a financial wiz.

Make Yourself a Star: Show Business: The Economics of Entertainment – Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Do you dream of becoming a major movie star? How about a famous pop star? The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston gives you the chance to live that dream with Show Business: The Economics of Entertainment. You can “Climb the Charts” or see what life is like as “Another Action Hero”. You can pick a character and follow the storyline, all while learning about the history and economics behind the music and film markets. Or you can play educational mini-games, watch animated videos or check out other fun resources. You can also play against other players with the multiplayer option. If you’re more of sports fan, you can try Peanuts & Crackerjacks, a game that tests you on economics and sports trivia. You’ll be dropping knowledge on friends and family in no time.

Become a Savings King: Mad Money – It’s My Life (PBS Kids)

With Mad Money, It’s My Life challenges you to save up for the all things you love. Pick one thing you really want, like tickets to a concert, or a video game system. You get 30 “days”, or playtime units, to earn money, pay for things you need, and save up for your goal. See if you can keep up with your finances and still afford that one special gift. It’s My Life, by PBS Kids, gives children an opportunity to learn savings skills, while also using their brains to make tough money management decisions.

“Coolest” World: Sand Dollar City – DoughMain

Enter an underwater world full of mystery with Sand Dollar City. You are given the family candy store, and it is up to you to help get the store out of debt. Fight back against the Kelp King, search for ingredients, and meet a cast of colorful characters, all while playing mini-games that offer lessons in money management, credit, resource coordination and investing for the future. DoughMain was founded upon the principle of family management and financial education. They use organizing tools, money games, and social media to help families and kids develop financial smarts.

Best Mystery: Fraud Scene Investigator Presents Suitable Investments – North American Securities Administrators Association

The crime is fraud, and you are Kim, Fraud Scene Investigator for the Securities Commission. It’s up to you to discover the truth behind a million dollar investment scam. You’ll identify investment terms, learn about consumer fraud, and search the Internet for corporate information to build the case. This game is perfect for mystery fans that want the chance to be a heroic crime-solver. And by playing along, you’ll also learn investment terms, how to evaluate a company’s balance and income statements, how to utilize securities regulator services, and how to examine a company’s stock chart and trading activity. The North American Securities Administrators Association offers educators a fun way to teach financial literacy with Fraud Scene Investigator.