Last week my 7-year-old daughter Jane told me she wanted to start saving money to buy an RV (recreational vehicle, as in Winnebago). They are, in her words, “awesome.”
“You’ll have to save for a long time,” I told her. “They’re expensive.” A couple of days later I realized it might be a good time to start teaching Jane some of the basic facts about earning, spending, saving, and investing money. After a bit of research I came across an educational outer-space adventure game called Planet Orange, produced by Ing Direct.
After dinner I sat Jane down in front of the computer and told her to have at it. She assumed the role of a young astronaut assigned with a number of missions that required traveling in her spaceship to different cities to learn about personal finance. She started the game with 1,000 obucks (the currency used on Planet Orange) in her account. This money could be used to decorate her spaceship, shop for different kinds of spacesuits, buy robotic pets, and play arcade games. But the spaceship also requires costly fuel, so Jane had to watch her spending or else she wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.
In each of the cities Jane traveled to, she interacted with animated characters who taught her about earning money, taxes, making a simple budget, saving money in checking and savings accounts, and investing money. She was quizzed at end of each mission, and rewarded with additional obucks.
After an hour and a half of rapt engagement, I told Jane it was time to call it quits for the evening. “But I haven’t completed my last mission!” she protested. Fortunately, the game allows you to save your spot, so you can return at a later time and pick up where you left off.
Jane learned quite a bit about personal finances in a short amount of time. I fear a Winnebago showing up in the driveway any day now.
Have you found a unique way to teach your kids about money? Share your finds and tips in the comments section below!