Monopoly no longer uses cash – that can teach kids some bad finance lessons

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Hasbro announced on Wednesday that it will be releasing a version of the classic board game Monopoly for the digital age. However, financial experts argue that the game’s new design could withhold important financial lessons from children.

In Hasbro’s HAS,
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latest edition of Monopoly, the paper money and community chest cards are gone. Instead, the board game now comes with a voice-controlled device with artificial intelligence in the form of a cylinder.

To prevent fraud, players now press a button on the cylinder and dictate commands, such as paying rent or selling real estate. The game is scheduled for release on July 1st and can be pre-ordered at Walmart WMT.
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and Amazon.


“The lack of access to cash, both real and play money, makes it difficult for younger children to teach money and money management.”


– —Laura Levine, President and CEO of the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy

This isn’t the first time Monopoly has mirrored today’s cashless world. A 2006 edition of the game in the UK featured the Visa branded V.
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Credit cards instead of paper play money. Similar versions of the game are also available in the US. Last year, Hasbro even released a version called Monopoly for millennials, in which players compete to buy experiences rather than real estate.

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The new technology could appeal to children who are used to interacting with voice-activated digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa AMZN.
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, Apple’s Siri AAPL,
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or Microsoft’s Cortana MSFT,
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. Financial experts, however, remained undecided about the educational value of the game.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Laura Levine, president and CEO of the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a nonprofit that promotes financial education in schools. “The lack of access to cash, both real and play money, makes it difficult for younger children to teach about money and money management.”

Board games like Monopoly can be important teaching tools – if used correctly

Educators and financial advisors have often suggested that board games like Monopoly or The Game of Life are important in encouraging behaviors associated with saving and budgeting.

By removing the physical element of the game, some argue that it diminishes Monopoly’s usefulness as a tool for teaching children about money.

“Removing physical Monopoly money reduces the educational value of the game by glossing over the important task of learning to manage and count your money,” said Nicole Strbich, director of financial planning at Buckingham Advisors in Dayton, Ohio.

Research has shown that children’s approach to money changes after they are allowed to touch cash – dealing with money has made children work harder, but it has also made them stingy when it comes to giving away money.

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“Bankruptcy is much more painful when you have to reach across the board to give someone your last dollar.”


– —Nicole Strbich, director of financial planning at Buckingham Advisors

This corresponds to the experience of adults with cash instead of credit cards. Studies have shown that consumers spend more using credit cards, mobile wallets, and possibly even cryptocurrency. The same goes for shopping online or with a smart speaker rather than in person.

As a result, playing with literal Monopoly money can teach important financial lessons. “Bankruptcy is much more painful when you have to reach across the board to give someone your last dollar,” said Strbich.

At the same time, having board games reflect the real world is also beneficial, Levine said. “The reality is that this is the world they will grow into,” she said.

Even as a digital game, Monopoly still exposes kids to a game version of the real world, she argued.

Parents need to take an active role in developing financial literacy

Cashless or not, board games like Monopoly shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for real conversations about money, spending, and saving. “Parents can’t expect games to do all of the lessons on their own,” she said. “Teaching and learning come about through discussion and guidance. We can use these other tools to make it real and bring it to life. “

And evaluating the lessons board games teach is just as important as playing. Monopoly encourages strong behaviors like counting money. But it can also encourage risky financial behavior – after all, the person who buys the most property wins, and that requires a lot of leverage.

“If you think maximum leverage is a solid finance doctrine and strategy, this is a good educational tool,” quipped David Harraway, director of Substantial Financial, a financial planning firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Financial experts also highlighted other best practices for teaching kids money – from paying for chores to getting permission to run lemonade stands. With these strategies, too, the responsibility rests with the parents.


“If you think maximum leverage is a solid finance doctrine and strategy, this is a good educational tool.”


– —David Harraway, Director of Substantial Financial, on the disadvantages of Monopoly

When it comes to allowances, Levine advised that parents should focus not on whether their child is prepared but on whether or not they are themselves. Forgetting to pay a child or using borrowed money to buy something after the piggy bank runs out teaches the wrong lesson.

“If the parents aren’t disciplined, send the message it’s loose,” Levine said.

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