Old School Pay Day: Teaching Kids About Money Since 1975

Staying on the same money topic from my post yesterday (about how ridiculous some studies on money are), today I’m here to discuss a new approach I’m using to teach my kids about money. TRC and DC are both getting earned allowances these days. They’re both required to put half of it into savings, and they’re allowed to choose what to spend the other half on. DC is a pack rat. She saves every penny and puts it all in the bank. TRC? Total spender. He’s buying Minecraft merchandise left and right and just put some cash down on a BB gun. Guns, games, and gear–that’s his motto.

I’ve been glad to see them start having their own experiences with money, and Denisa and I are happy to see them start learning some lessons. But at the same time, I didn’t feel like it was enough. Budgeting is such a tricky thing–what else could we be doing to prepare our kids for living on their own?

So I looked back at my past. What had I done that helped prepare me to be smart with my money? The answer was obvious at once: Pay Day.

Not the modern version. The one Parker Bros churned out that spoiled the whole point of the game (removing the stiff penalties for loans and the incentives for savings, for one thing). I’m talking about old school Pay Day. The one with the dreaded $800 wedding bill. The one with 20% monthly interest on loans (and 10% interest on savings).

Hard knocks Pay Day.

I played that game religiously as a child. Me and my brother and sisters would go for long Pay Day binges. We’d leave the game set up on the floor and come back to it for successive days. We were ahrd core Pay Dayers. And I learned a lot of important lessons back then:

  • Savings is your friend. 10% every month, just for having the money? Awesome.
  • Loans are evil. Avoid borrowed money, or lose the whole game in spectacular fashion, and have your siblings mock you for the rest of the week. Sometimes you had to borrow money–bills left you with no choice. But you got out of debt as fast as possible, if you wanted a chance to win the game.
  • Insurance is awesome. Always.
  • Town elections and politics is awful. $50 multiple times a month. Ridiculous.
  • Some deals are worth more than others, but you have to make deals to make money, because your monthly salary sure isn’t going to get it done.
  • Poker night and betting is a scam. You always lose.
  • Sundays are awesome, because no bills or mail.
  • The lottery almost never pays off.
  • If you really want to get ahead, you better hope you have a lot of rich aunts who are about to die and leave you money.

But it was more than just that. We’d take turns being the banker–handling the money, calculating interest, making exchanges. Pay Day did a ton for my financial acumen.

And then Parker Bros ruined it. They took out the big bills, reduced the loan penalty, and basically made it so that having and accumulating money is easy. What does that teach about money management? Not a darn thing. Avoid the new version like the plague.

Lucky for me, back in 2001 or so, I came across an almost pristine version of original Pay Day in a thrift store. I bought it for $2, and I’ve held on to it since. Last night, I brought it out for the family to play, explaining ahead of time what it was about and what it could teach you. We played a three month game to begin with, and the kids had a blast.

I lost in blaze of glory, getting the $800 bill on my first roll. Denisa won by the skin of her teeth, edging out DC for the victory. The kids had a blast, and they want to play it again soon. Ideally, it’s a game they can play together–no adults needed. We’ll see if I can swing that. But in the meantime, I’m willing to call this initial play a success.

How about you? What do you do to teach your kids about money? Any other Pay Day fans out there? Please share.

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