2015
Jul 16

Paycheck-2-Paycheck: A Budgeting Game for Kids

by Hannah Holt »

2 comments


A few weeks ago, I offered to substitute for my son’s Sunday school class. Of course, I forgot all about it until I pulled into the church parking lot.

Summer brain strikes again!

In the short while before class, I skimmed the lesson on tithes and offerings. The material was thin. I needed something to fill more time, so I sketched up a quick money management game. It evolved into this.

game

{Note this version doesn’t have a charitable contribution option, but that could easily be added.}

Basically, the game follows a two-week pay cycle.

game board

You roll a single die to advance through the days. Every two weeks you collect a $1000 paycheck. That’s simple enough, but here are the variables:

  • The players choose all expenses and have to pay up with each paycheck. At the beginning, no one will be able to afford the best everything, so…
    • Are you willing to live in a smaller house?
    • Give up eating meat?
    • Only have one pair of clothes?
  • Along the way there are also a few random risks and rewards.
    • Need to visit the doctor? That will be $100.
    • Have a car? You’ll need to pay insurance on that.
    • Oh, look it’s your birthday. Grandma gives you $100! Yay.
  • You win by saving $1000 (after all expenses are paid). In the game, this is the amount of each paycheck. So winning means you’ve graduated from living paycheck-to-paycheck.

To play you’ll need:

  1. An instruction card
  2. A game board
  3. A decision sheet
  4. Play money
  5. Risk/Reward cards
  6. An expense tracker
  7. A die to roll
  8. A game token

Feel free to make copies for personal and/or school use. I just ask that you don’t distribute commercially. I recommend printing the risk/reward cards on card stock and gluing the game board to a piece of cardboard for better durability. When you’re all done playing, everything can be trimmed and folded to fit into a gallon bag.

finished game

If you want to make the game even more complex you could add features, like:

  • taxes
  • more bills (cell phone plans?)
  • charitable contributions
  • add risk/reward cards that include salary increases and decreases

So far it’s been a big hit with my kids. I hope yours enjoy it, too!


  1. Verena Poole

    Brilliant! I can’t believe you made it up so quickly. Oh! And I love the forts from the last post. Especially the corn maze. I’m terrible at corn mazes. I’d probably be the only person in the world who would get lost in that one. “Where’s the entrance again? I can’t seem to find it.”

    • Hannah Holt

      The game in class was more simple. All the students just voted on a budget. I thought about turning it into a game because my oldest loves board games. I’m glad you enjoyed it!