For Teachers

Free Financial Literacy Games for High School Students

Check out these free financial literacy games that you can play with your high school students to help them build smart money habits.

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The “real world” after high school is full of financial challenges. From budgeting to investing to borrowing, your students are rapidly approaching independent living and money management. Playing games is a proven way to learn effectively, and having kids play them can help prepare them for the future. These free financial literacy games give high school students a solid personal finance foundation.

Budgeting Games

  • Hit The Road: This game has students taking a road trip with some friends. It’s a fun, engaging setup as learners travel across the country to ski in Colorado, while focusing on staying within their budgets. They need to save enough money to eat and have gas in the car while enjoying their travels. This activity can be used at any time or as part of a larger budgeting unit. It is outstanding for older high schoolers who may have a license or car and dream of a long road trip.
  • Spent: This game is an eye-opening activity for students to see what it’s like to live off of minimum wage. Many people live in this reality, and students can see how crucial money can be in life. They have to make tough choices, like how much insurance they can afford, whether to skip work to keep kids home from school when they’re sick, and many other difficult situations. This game is incredibly impactful for 11th and 12th graders who have a clearer idea of their career paths, to show them how vital higher salaries and wages can be.
  • Money Magic: This budgeting game is ideal for showing students how to balance income and expenses. They take the role of Enzo, a magician, who likes to spend his money impulsively. Students’ tasks involve spending, saving, and budgeting to get Enzo to his big break in Las Vegas. This game is a breeze to navigate and will engage students of all levels in high school.
  • Lights, Camera, Budget! This game lets students pretend to be movie producers making the next blockbuster movie in Hollywood. They have a $100 million budget (sounds like a lot, right?) but need to determine which major expenses take priority over others to make a successful film. If they put the pieces together well, their movie will receive five stars, and they’ll be on their way to the big time. Good for all levels of high school, and there is also a middle school version.
  • Claim Your Future: This game teaches students budgeting and career research to see if they can afford what they think they can afford. They plug in numbers to see housing costs, food expenses, and other categories they will encounter in the near future. It does a good job showing kids different levels of transportation, college, and communication costs and is beneficial for 9th-12th graders.

Head to our teacher’s guide to budgeting for more resources on this topic.

Stocks and Investing Games

  • The Stock Market Game: This game walks high school students through the ins and outs of the stock market. They build a virtual portfolio – without the risk – to see how their shares would perform, learning about index funds, ETFs, and diversification as they track prices. Setting up the game involves a little more than a simple click, but it is worth it. Your 9th-12th graders will gain the valuable stock market experience they can use in the future.  
  • STAX: Kids can play this game alone or in groups, making it a perfect choice for differentiated instruction. Packed into an easy-to-access 20-minute session, students learn about stock price movement and how to invest for the long haul. They see how buy-and-hold investing is often the wisest path, learn about index funds and asset allocation, and understand why diversification is so effective. This game is beneficial for 9th-12th graders.
  • How The Market Works: This free game provides students with a rich platform to learn about the market. They can create portfolios, set up contests, and more, making this a valuable tool for your high schoolers. Setup is simple but takes a little time – once you have it running, it is an excellent tool for 9th-12th grade.
  • Fantasy Stock Exchange: This game is kid-friendly yet packed with tools and information. Your students can learn the stock market and trading vocabulary, build virtual portfolios, join competitions, and see how the trading floor works. This platform is suitable for all grade levels in high school.

Head to our teacher’s guide to investing for more resources on this topic.

Money Management Games

  • The Uber Game: Times have changed, and many people today try to make it in the gig economy alone. But is it possible to achieve real success? This game shows students the reality of gig work, setting them up as Uber drivers and showing them the costs of living independently, paying bills, and facing expenses connected to their Uber job. They have to pay a mortgage while raising two kids and soon understand the reality – it is doable but not as straightforward as they may think. Great for 9th-12th grade.
  • The Payoff: In this interactive game, students guide the actions of two video bloggers (vloggers) who face a tight deadline to submit their performance in a competition. They need to make intelligent money decisions using mobile apps and websites, replicating real-life personal finance situations. The vloggers also deal with unexpected obstacles along the way. This activity is an excellent fit for 9th-12thgraders.
  • Financial Football: Many students like football, and this game combines the sport’s fast pace with a wealth of financial education. Students get a broad overview of personal finance concepts and then need to answer questions as they make play calls to move the ball downfield. They can choose an NFL team to control as they make their way to victory – both in football and financial literacy. This game is excellent for all high schoolers and can be played on mobile devices, laptops, and computers.
  • Misadventures in Money Management: This interactive game takes the shape of a graphic novel, helping students avoid financial obstacles in a vivid interface. Students must make decisions to protect their money and determine the best paths to take on their financial journeys. This game is excellent for all high school, but your 9th and 10th-grade students might find its comic book feel most appealing. 
  • Fiscal Ship: This game puts students in the role of captain, governing a ship and its financial path. They must select tax policies and spending to keep their boat on course, showing them how to be in charge of many financial pieces at once. This game best suits your older high school students (11thand 12th grade).
  • Reality Check: This game is a quick activity to show students the importance of substantial salaries. Many kids think they can afford certain lifestyles but may not realize how much it takes. This game shows them the income they need to support their futures. It is good for 9th-12th graders.
  • Finances 101: This game is an excellent way to show students how salaries and budgets are connected. It also demonstrates banking services and how taxes work on paychecks, giving kids an idea of how much they’ll take home. Playing the game is straightforward and intuitive, suitable for 9th-12th grade students.

Head to our teacher’s guide to money management for more resources on this topic.

Loans and Credit Games

  • Shady Sam: Your high school students will enjoy playing the bad guy, in this case, Shady Sam, the predatory lender. This game shows kids the dangers of high-interest loans and how lenders can make tidy profits off of unsuspecting and desperate customers. Setting up the game is simple, and your students can play it independently. It is excellent for all high school students, particularly when you teach about interest and loans.
  • Credit Clash: If you’re a teacher or homeschooler looking for a game about credit scores, look no further than this one. Kids can enter the game instantly and learn how to raise their credit scores to 850 by paying bills on time, managing loans, and dealing with unexpected obstacles. Starting your 9th-graders off with this game will help them significantly, and you can use it throughout high school as students evolve.
  • Payback: If your students are college-bound, this game is an essential tool to prepare them. It shows young adults how to balance student loans with other costs they’ll face at school, giving them a realistic view of loans and how to avoid catastrophic debt. Setup is a snap: just navigate to the website and jump into the game. Good for grades 9-12.

Head to our borrowing money and credit teacher’s guides for more resources on this topic.

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: September 22, 2022