Making Smart Decisions With Money

It can be difficult to navigate money-related decisions and to explain financial topics to children. Thankfully, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers tremendous resources and games to make the learning process more digestible and enjoyable. Their How Money Smart Are You? series contains 14 games that cover earning, spending, saving, borrowing, and protecting your money. We have included a summary of the games below, with links to all 14 games.

The first game focuses on earning money. This resource can be used to help track the money you have coming in and to fully understand your income and expenses. This includes an explanation on pay statements and serves as a foundation to better decide how to save, share, and spend your income.

The next set of games covers spending money. The first game is about making housing decisions and explains the different types of housing. Participants are asked to think about what safe and secure housing means to them, and they provide advice on how renters can protect themselves. The next game helps participants understand their values and how they influence their financial decisions. The FDIC explains that understanding your values can assist you in setting realistic financial goals, and that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, reachable, and time-bound). The final game contains tools to develop a spending and saving plan. This plan is especially important to have when resources are tight, and you are forced to prioritize certain bills over others.

The series on saving also contains three games. The first game talks about building assets in pursuit of financial security, as well as understanding net worth and how a car can be a productive asset if it is used to help you attain other assets. The second game encourages participants to build a positive relationship with a financial institution and to learn more about the terms of different accounts that are available. The final game provides advice on how to save, including setting aside money from each paycheck, building an emergency savings fund, and creating a plan to save for your goals.

There are several important things to consider before borrowing money, which is why the FDIC devotes the largest number of games to this subject. The first of the five games covers the basics of borrowing money, and emphasizes the importance of making sure you can afford the payments before borrowing, as well as considering what types of lenders to look for and understanding the terms of a loan before committing to it. The second game covers the home buying process and instructs participants to learn about financing options and to figure out how much the lending services will cost. The third game discusses credit scores and credit reports, stressing the importance of protecting your credit history and taking steps to improve and manage your score, such as paying bills on time, reviewing reports at least once per year, and filing disputes when you find errors on your report. The fourth game is about managing debt, offering tips such as developing a plan to reduce debt, getting help from a trained credit counselor, if needed, and paying back student loans. The last game serves as a guide to credit cards, discussing rates and fees, choosing a card, reading a statement, and managing a credit card.

The final series helps users learn how to protect their money. The first game focuses on how to protect yourself from disasters, such as how to identify and prepare for possible financial challenges before disasters, how to recover after disasters, and which scams to watch for after disaster strikes. The final game teaches participants how to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud, instructing individuals to keep accurate records of their assets, to be aware of risks to their assets, how to reduce those risks, and how insurance can provide protection.

While these games pose a big investment in terms of time, they offer comprehensive advice on financial-related subjects that are important for everyone to understand. Thankfully, the FDIC breaks them up into sections to make the information much easier to process.

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