The topic of how to budget, or even what is budgeting, is a difficult and frustrating concept if no practical experience is occurring. To make this topic more tangible, and interactive, I began treating it like a game and created a format to be played over a simulated two month period.
Called “Life Happens Budgeting Game”, the purpose is to introduce real life situations that can occur and may need to be thought out before a decision is made, such as a friend asking to borrow money. The purpose is to begin the discussion of what money a person has coming in and what it’s used for during the month. Some expenses players can see coming, such as the frequent stops for grocery shopping or end of the month rent, while other expenses are unexpected and can be spur of the moment, as demonstrated through the ‘Life Happens’ cards.
Included with this blog is the game, budget sheet where players keep track of their money, and the ‘Life Happens’ cards to be printed (2 cards have been left blank to add expenses geared to the individuals you are playing with).
(following red titles are links to printable Life Happens game board, cards, and worksheet are in PDF format)
LIFE HAPPENS! Budget Game Playing Boards Print Month One and Month Two, then tape together so that both can be seen like a playing board and the bottom of Month One leads into the top of Month Two.
LIFE HAPPENS! Budget Game Cards Print cards so that they are double sided…description of spending event on one side with Life Happens logo on the back. Blank cards are to allow you to add a spending event that is personal to your individual situation; ie. paying someone to clean your home, or a gym membership. To make cards more durable print on heavier paper or laminate afterwards.
LIFE HAPPENS! Budget Worksheet Sheet Print the number of worksheets needed, there are 2 per sheet.
Playing pieces…you can use coins, or snitch from an old game like I did. You also need one 3-sided die. Or you can take a regular die and tape over the 4, 5, and 6, and write in a 1, 2, and 3 in place…so it will be a regular die that has two number 1 sides, two number 2, and two number 3. This paces the game slowly to provide plenty of opportunity for when ‘life happens’.
Now to play:
Beginning with all playing pieces on Start, Player 1 rolls the die and moves that many number though the month (be sure to move in numeral order). Player one then must follow instructions on the spot he/she landed…if it’s blank, than luckily no money is being spent that day.
Each player continues in the same routine, taking turns until everyone makes it to the end of Month Two…there is no stopping at the last day of Month One, just follow the arrows to continue into Month two.
When a player lands on a spot where money is spent or where they get a Life Happens! card, the budget sheet is to be used to record (through adding and subtracting) what is happening, i.e., record when groceries are bought, bus pass purchased, or even when a player may make money by helping out a friend. This is also a great time to practice using a calculator!
While the idea of winning can be determined by having money left over, the purpose is more to spur conversation and real life comparison…’the what would you do’ type of discussions…because we all know, no matter who you are, we all struggle with making choices about how we spend (or don’t spend) money.