Fortnite for Finances
This post is part of a campaign to promote #FinHealthMatters Day 2018,
sponsored by CFSI, Center for Financial Services Innovation.
Last week, my 10th grade daughter brought home an assignment from her Civics class.
The assignment: describe how you would improve your overall education in secondary school.
She asked me how I would address the issue.
My answer: provide fun and engaging financial education in high school.
These post-millennials are more tech savvy than any generation before them. The only way my daughter gets information or entertainment is by streaming it from a device. She has never used a CD, let alone a VHS tape. I don’t even think she could correctly identify a tape!
It used to be that the smartest kid in the class was the most knowledgeable. Today, the smartest kid in the class knows how to access knowledge the fastest.
These students graduating from high school, have all the knowledge in the world available at their fingertips, yet they are woefully unprepared to face real-world finances.
1) No one talks to them about money
2) Finances are boring
Small side note: I personally don’t find finances boring, but I realize most people do.
But what if there was a method to engage these kids in a way that they can relate?
Something that was fun, captivating AND EDUCATIONAL.
Like an online game that could be used in high school to equip these kids with the money skills they need for the rest of their lives.
Think Fortnite™ for Finances. Without the violence.
If you don’t know what Fortnite is, then you probably don’t know a lot of teenagers.
Fortnite is an online game where 100 players fight each other until only one player remains. The players jump out of a floating bus onto a small island. Hidden on the island are weapons and other supplies which participants use to protect themselves as they explore their surroundings. The players can collect supplies to build structures to hide in or defend their position. As the game progresses, the playing field is continually reduced which forces players closer and closer together.
Although financial education should not be as cutthroat as Fortnite, the objective is to teach kids how to survive and thrive given their choice of occupation, lifestyle, etc.
Granted, I’m no game designer, but I do understand finances and I understand the lure of online games.
I foresee the game looking something like this:
Every participant selects an avatar (occupation) and lives and works in a city in North America. They have their choice of where they want to live and how they want to spend their time and their money. You know, real life choices. The objective is to make your money last through all the challenges.
Unlike Fortnite, everyone survives. But the real winners will be the best at managing their resources. You know, like real life.
Players can change occupations; however, they need to understand that there are trade-offs to a career with a high salary. For example: student loan debts may dog a participant for a long time.
The game consists of several levels or challenges.
Challenge 1: Make it to the End of the Month Before the End of the Money
Each player must dedicate funds to real-life necessities like taxes, food, shelter and clothing. As the level progresses, each player will have opportunities to spend their dough (some fun, some necessary). They will learn that there are consequences to spending more money than you make.
Challenge 2: Cleanup on Aisle 7
The setting for this level is a grocery store. Participants must puchase enough food to sustain a family of 4 for a week. Points will be gained through strategic shopping, as well as nutritional value of the meals. Watch out for those nasty dietary restrictions which could pop up at any time and derail the best-laid menu plans.
Challenge 3: The Tax Man Cometh (cue scary music)
I envision the Tax Man looking a lot like Slender Man. At least, that’s how I have always envisioned the Tax Man.
Given simple tax forms, the objective is to maximize deductions and minimize tax payments.
Challenge 4: Seek Shelter
Rent or buy? How much house can I afford? Save for a down payment? The player can choose from a selection of places to live. But just like in real life, there are always trade-offs that must be made.
Challenge 5: Accidents Happen
Emergencies always seem to happen at the most inopportune times. Players need to realize that a healthy emergency fund goes a long way in heading off a catastrophe.
Challenge 6: Reinforcing Moves
The players must plan for their future. They should understand the role social services, pensions, retirement savings, etc. play in providing for their needs when they leave the workforce.
A game like Fortnite for Finances is just one crazy idea to make financial education fun and instructive for students.
But we, as parents, need to push for financial education in any form to be a standard part of every student’s curriculum in high school. Without it, students are bound to keep repeating the same mistakes made by many from the generations before them. That is, making it to the end of the money before the end of the month.
Fortnite is a trademark of Epic Games, Inc.