Stone Soup for Five: Real Life Game

Real Life Game

I was talking to some friends about how our pre teens and teens have NO CLUE about money and real life living.  They assume because we have $300 to pay utilities that we should easily have $300 or more for them to spend on what they want.  


So one of my friends took her kids to Target to pick out an outfit they liked (but didn't buy) and they had to add up the total of the complete outfit.. then they did math games with it.

So I tried the same thing yesterday.  I told the boys THEY could pick out an entire outfit (shirt, jeans, socks, shoes, underwear) and write down the price for everything.  Then they were to meet me back in the popcorn cafe and we'd do the next thing.  So they headed out with their notepads and pencils as I settled in with my Kindle and diet coke.

When they came back, they added up the total (average of about $60 for one outfit).  Then I had them add on 9% sales tax (which we don't have in Oregon, but if they lived anywhere else, they would probably have).  They all declared sales tax a RIP OFF!  Then we figured out how much they would make at a minimum wage job, and how long it would take to make enough money for that outfit, and so on.  

It was fun and they actually did addition, subtraction, percents to decimals, multiplication and division all in the cafe of the store. WITH SMILES!

Then, when we got home, I had an idea.  What if for the rest of the summer we did a "real life game".  I got some checkbook registers for each of them from my credit union, made a list of jobs they could work at and let them chose their job.

Now each morning when they get up for breakfast, their register will have a scenario on it and they get to decide if they'll do it, and add or subtract money accordingly.  It's really fun, quick, and real life practice too.

This morning one had to choose if he would be going with his friends to the newest most awesomest movie for $12 and if he would be buying popcorn and soda for another $12.  He chose to go.

Another son had to buy a bus pass because his job is too far to walk, and he hasn't bought a car yet.

And my other son had to choose if he would be going to his friend's birthday party, and if he did, would he buy him a $10 iTunes gift card or a $20 gift card.  (He chose $15.)

They need to bring down the balance like real life, and they need to make their paycheck (minus taxes--based on minimum wage) last till the next paycheck.

So far it's fun, but tomorrow one of them will accidentally break someone else's property and have to pay $20 to replace.  :o)

I haven't introduced the Dave Ramsey style of doing envelopes yet, just wanting to get the basics of what life is really like.  Later (maybe during homeschool this year) we'll start a budget, etc.


  1. WOW~ I am so impressed. Both with the concept and the fact that you followed through with it AND the fact that you got to sit down and read your Kindle while your kids wandered a store. What is that like? I can't wrap my brain around it, but it sounds really really nice. Your boys must be older than mine.

    I look forward to hearing updates on how this progresses!

  2. I'm impressed too! How old are your boys?

    I have 3 kids, the oldest will be turning 4 later this month and I am so inspired by you clever home school moms.

    I am considering homeschooling for our family, but right now it is hard to fathom. I fear that I am not capable because I am such a mess (super flaky and not very disciplined). Also, I am a little nervous about the aforementioned almost 4 year old. She just doesn't seem to have the desire/interest in learning. Even when I think I am making something fun (making something a game, etc...) she just doesn't seem interested. I hope as she gets older she'll be more eager to learn.

  3. Love it! I'm so taking this idea and using it on my girls...when they get older of course :)


Join the conversation!