For Teachers

Budgeting Games for High School Students

Check out our favorite games to teach high schoolers how to budget!

board-game

Budgeting is a skill that will carry your high school students far in their futures. Knowing how to calculate and maintain a budget is crucial, and young adults must learn how to monitor their spending and make adjustments regularly. Games are great tools to help high school students grasp the importance of budgeting and learn valuable strategies. Let’s take a look at some of the best budgeting games for high school students. You can head over to my primary budgeting lesson plans hub for more tips to curate your curriculum.

Claim Your Future

This game lets students choose a career or have one randomly assigned to them. They use the given salary range and create a detailed budget, putting aside money to spend on housing, food, and luxuries. This game is excellent for showing students how much the cost of living truly is and whether their chosen career will support the lifestyle they want. 

Students choose specific expenses based on their hypothetical salaries, such as the type of food they buy and the car model they can afford. It provides a safe place to make mistakes, where they can learn from budgeting failures without paying a real financial price.

Lights, Camera, Budget!

In this game, high school students imagine themselves as big-time movie producers who need to stay within a budget. If they successfully balance and manage their expenses, their movie receives five stars, and they win the game. It is a fun way to use their economic skills that they can apply to personal budgeting in the future. 

Students answer multiple budgeting questions and make essential decisions to secure the best reviews for their movies. Your kids will enjoy role-playing while learning critical money management and budgeting tactics.

Sonya Gives Advice

Sonya learns valuable lessons in this game, and so will your students. In today’s society, many people seem to spend recklessly and with no regard for budgeting. This activity shows them how to plan for large purchases, weighing the costs with what they can afford.

Students answer several interactive questions about maintaining a budget for their big-ticket purchases and can work independently or with a group to find the best solutions. The most significant takeaway is the game shows the danger of peer pressure and how it can impact your spending habits – if you don’t stick to a budget.

Money Magic

This budgeting game lets kids combine financial skills with creativity, stepping into the role of Enzo, the magician. Enzo has to save $50,000 before he can perform in Las Vegas. However, he has to figure out how to reach his goal: he still has to live life, eat, and pay for a roof over his head. Students help him balance his budget.

This game shows students how important having a budget – and sticking to it – is for financial success. It also introduces the ideas of entrepreneurship and advertising and how budgeting fits into those areas. They have the freedom to make various financial decisions and see how those choices impact their goals. 

Finances 101

Finances 101 is a comprehensive game that shows students how to put their money into various accounts, how taxes impact their take-home pay, and more. One of the most valuable parts of the game revolves around budgeting. Students learn that they can’t just save whatever their salary is: there are taxes, expenses, and costs of living to pay that affect their net worth and budgets. 

Your students will learn to make more detailed budgets by setting aside savings and money for unexpected expenses. It emphasizes the importance of saving money and instills positive financial habits, making it a valuable addition to your classroom or homeschooling program.

Spent

This game takes a hard look at people in challenging financial situations. It teaches students how many people struggle to make ends meet and barely make enough to get by. While many games take an almost unrealistic approach to budgeting – where students easily obtain a high-paying job with no unforeseen expenses – Spent shows the reality for many people living in poverty.

The game has students budget, but with much less money than they may be comfortable with having. They are forced to prioritize between wants and needs and support their family with minimal resources. They see the importance of budgeting, not only to streamline their spending and saving, but as a way to survive.

Misadventures in Money Management

This game is an outstanding activity for high school students to see the importance of budgeting: engaging, fun, and thought-provoking. It is in a graphic novel format, which will appeal to many learners, and shows how decision-making and money management skills can make all the difference.

Students answer questions, make choices, and see the many effects of their decisions. They need to budget for emergencies and savings and avoid reckless spending decisions to be successful in the game. It is perfect for students in military families or those that are interested in the armed forces after high school.

The Uber Game

Your students are familiar with Uber and may even have friends or family that drive for it. This game provides students with job-specific data and situations to show them how important having a budget can be. They learn if they could make it on an Uber income, setting aside money for bills and necessities and seeing how much they would have left to enjoy. 

They can choose between two levels: difficult and easy. The difficult level is good for them to play, as they have to play the role of an Uber driver with bad credit who lives outside the city. They need to adjust their expectations and budget to see how different incomes affect their lives. The gig economy is a realistic landing spot for some of your students, and it is beneficial to introduce them to its realities.

Reality Check

Sometimes, your high school students can have a fuzzy picture of their financial futures. This game breaks down various salaries, the actual costs of living, and how budgets can show you what you can and can’t afford. Students dream of wealth and buying nice things whenever they want, but this game offers them the reality of what kind of lifestyle they can live.

The game incorporates tools and calculators to show kids the costs of specific food, housing types and locations, and kinds of cars. They see the career they can pursue to realistically afford their dream lives.

Hit the Road

Hit the Road is an engaging and interactive game that shows the significance of good budgeting. Students follow the adventures of young adults going on a road trip to Colorado. They need to save enough money along the way by avoiding impulse buys and prioritizing needs like food and gas to make it. 

Students learn the dangers of impulse buys and see the importance of sticking to a budget. They will also see that even a simple thing like a road trip has unexpected costs and that budgets should account for these surprises.

Payback

In this game, students see how dangerous student loan debt can be. They also see how trying to pay back loans without a plan is extremely challenging. They learn how to make a budget that hammers their debt down over time, giving them a practical skill they can use in their futures. 

The game shows learners strategies they can use regardless of their future paycheck amounts. They see the power of budgets, particularly when they owe large amounts of money, to help them pay down their debt and get back on their feet.

About the Author

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is a National Board Certified teacher with over two decades of experience in the classroom. He loves working with students of all ages in many subjects, but particularly in practical areas like money education, to help kids achieve their goals. When he is not teaching or writing about financial literacy, you can find him surfing, hiking, skiing, or traveling to new places.

Last updated on: August 22, 2022