22 Career Exploration Books to Get Kids Thinking

Career exploration for kids | activities | children | learning | life | middle school | My child has all kinds of crazy ideas about what they want to be when they grow up and how cool that is...I'd like to find a way for them to explore more than just the perks of that career. #careerexploration #kids #activities #middleschool #life | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/22-career-exploration-books-get-kids-thinking/

Career exploration books for kids that paint a more complete picture of what that career entails.

I set out to find the best career exploration books for kids out there.

Not the ones that paint rosy pictures about fantastical careers – like the life of an astronaut, video game tester, or President of the United States – but the books that also include tidbits about the not-so-pretty side of careers as well.

You know, the mistakes, missteps, frustrations, and failures that each of us adults have navigated in our own careers.


:: Dr. Seuss quitting art class because of his teacher wanting him to follow the rules – thank goodness he kept going!

:: Grace Hopper’s eventual boredom with repetitive computer programming work, which led her to create computer codes.

:: Rosie Revere’s Uncle laughing at her “silly” inventions.

:: Leland Melvin’s opening that manages kids’ expectations – just because you’re an astronaut, it doesn’t mean you ever get to go into space (who knew?).

Let me be clear: we’re not dashing dreams here. We are, however, adding an element of reality to them.

Note: I’ve personally read each of these books and give my honest reviews/opinions below.

#1: Baby’s Big World: Chemistry, Veronica L. Murphy, 1-3 years
Career Path: scientist, chemist

Why not get started this early? In this cutely illustrated book, your youngin’ is introduced to chemistry. Elements are like “crayons in a box”, and the elements table is like a “crayon box.” Your kid might start to see their world as little tiny elements while reading this.

#2: The Most Magnificent Thing, Ashley Spires, 3-7 years
Career Path: Inventor, entrepreneur, tinkerer (hey, that’s a job, right?), problem solver

I chose specific career titles for this book; however, you should know that it’s probably a great foundation to read for any career. Why is that? Because even though this little lady is trying to invent something, what happens during her many iterations happens to all of us in life – mistakes, missteps, frustrations, failures.

I love how the author seamlessly weaves in the lesson that out of many failures come lessons and things you learn that will ultimately shape the final product, whatever that product may be.

#3: Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat, Judy Sierra, 3-7 years
Career Path: writer, illustrator, book publisher, book agent

I love how this book starts off explaining how The Cat in the Hat came to be by explaining an unmet need: first graders weren’t making the leap from reading just a few words to reading a whole book.

Adults figured out that kids needed fun kid-beginner books to get them interested.

At this point, Dr. Seuss had already published 9 books. So, a man commissioned him to write and illustrate a first-grade reader book using specific words – 236 of them to be exact.

The book then follows the creative process of, well, writing a book. It’s quite creative!

#4: Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science, Diane Stanley, 4-8 years
Career Path: scientist, creator, mathematician

Ada Byron was a super-creative kid who dreamed of steam-powered flying horses. Her over-excitedness and big imagination came from her father, Lord Byron, a famous poet whom she never met. Her mother, on the other hand, was a math and scientist (their marriage apparently lasted 1 year).

Her mother decided to ground her in a strict scientific education, which turned out to be great training paired with her wonderful imagination.

One day Ada’s mother takes her to tour a factory where she finds the mechanical loom. From this machine, she gets her big idea to use punch cards to tell machine to do things. Then several years later she forms a friendship with scientist Charles Babbage.

Follow along this beautiful book on her journey as she writes the first programming code.

#5: What Do You Do with a Problem?, Kobi Yamada, 4-8 years
Career Path: business wo(man), entrepreneur, inventor, marketer

All businesses exist because they solve a problem. First, they find a problem, or perhaps stumble into it, and then they see that it is actually an opportunity to make something, offer something, do something, that will make the problem go away.

This book is all about not being scared by problems or worried by them, but facing them dead on and seeing them for the opportunity that they really are.

#6: Shark Lady, Jess Keating, 4-8 years:
Career Path: Scientist, oceanographer, biologist

Your child can follow oceanographer Eugenie Clark’s journey as she followed her hunch + passions about studying sharks and the ocean. From trips to the aquarium and free diving in the Atlantic Ocean to Research Missions, she was determined to show others that sharks are not just mindless killing machines.

#7: Margaret and the Moon, Dean Robbins, 4-8 years
Career Path: engineer, software/coding, computers, astronaut, scientist

Margaret was a very curious young girl. She asked questions about all sorts of things, and eventually went into computer programming. This led her to become director of software programming for NASA’s Project, Apollo, which included missions Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10, and then Apollo 11. And it was her code that helped with a small glitch during the landing as well.

#8: Charles Darwin’s Around-the-World Adventure, Jennifer Thermes, 5-7 years
Career Path: Explorer, Adventure, Biologist, Scientist, Anthropologist, Archaeologist

I love the way this book approaches scientific hypotheses Charles had to his explorations. It all flows well so that future scientists can see how everything just sort of ties together in life.

#9: Iggy Peck, Architect, Andrea Beaty, 5+ years
Career Path: Architect, Engineer, Construction

Iggy Peck just loooovvveeesss to build things. He wants to build with his hands all day long, even after meeting his 2nd grade teacher who is hugely against buildings (as a matter of course).

What I love about this book is that it shows kids their interests and work has real meaning and can make a difference/fill a need in people’s lives. Isn’t that what we all want to do when we “grow up”?

#10: Grace Hopper Queen of Computer Code, Laurie Wallmark, 5+ years
Career Path: Video game maker, inventor, creator, tech, innovator, computers

While pulling a late-nighter writing code, Grace realizes that not only does she tend to write the same code over and over again into her programs…but she dislikes redoing the same work repeatedly.

I like how this book details some of the non-glamorous sides to tech work (and I would understand these a bit, as my husband works in computers): late nights, repetitive work, broken down machines with lots of pressure to get them back up running (specifically if you’re working for the Navy!), etc.

It’s also great for showing your child how maintaining an imagination throughout childhood and adulthood is beneficial in everything you do.

#11: Rosie Revere, Engineer, Andrea Beaty, 5-7 years
Career Path: engineer, entrepreneur, creator, inventor

Rosie loves to build things out of all sorts of ‘throwaways’. But one day her Uncle laughed at one of her inventions – a hat to keep snakes away (he was a zookeeper, after all) – so she became shy about sharing her inventions. It’s her grandmother who eventually teaches her that great flops are necessary on the path to great success.

#12: My Journey to the Stars, Scott Kelly,5-8 years
Career Path: astronaut, engineer

Scott and his twin, Mark, both became astronauts with NASA.

What I like about this book is that it starts out with a child (Scott) who didn’t quite know what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Until he found a book (ha! Go figure). Then he knew he wanted to be a test pilot. The book then breaks down, step by step, how he achieved his goal.

While he and his brother never actually flew in space together, they both flew on several missions. And probably their most important help with NASA? Since they’re twins with the same biologic makeup, they can test how their body changes in both space and on earth at the same time. One twin (Scott) spent an entire year in space while the other stayed on earth so that they could test the effects on the body and eventually get astronauts out into space for longer missions (like to Mars).

#13: The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Be Dr. Seuss, Kathleen Krull, 5-9 years
Career Path: Writer, cartoonist

Your child can read along as Ted Geisel becomes Dr. Seuss. Through being fascinated by zoo tales his father talks about at the dinner tables, and the comic strips he gets from his father’s newspapers, and quitting art class because the teacher expected him to follow rules (ha! What Dr. Seuss book ever follows “rules”?).

His mother was even totally cool with him drawing on his walls.

#14: One Giant Leap, Robert Burleigh, 6-8 years
Career Path: astronaut, scientist

I love the art in this book, which helps tell the story of the first lunar landing. While they start off with the historic, magical event in those moments when mankind first stood on the moon in front of millions of viewers at home, this book then takes a (small) twist to show the behind-the-scenes troubles these two astronauts faced. In other words, the not-so-glamorous side to astronaut-ing!

#15: Radiant Child, Javaka Steptoe, 6-9 years
Career Path: artist, writer

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a cultural phenomenon in the 1980s as an artist. This book discusses not only his strong pull towards art as a child, but how he listens and answers that pull by drawing morning, noon, and night.

At museums his mother takes him to, they not only look at the works of art, but they read about how the artist made the piece so that Jean-Michel leans how to actually become an artist.

I love how this story takes Jean-Michel as a child with a passion, then follows that through to how he actually made a career from it. From his home to NYC, from spray painting art on walls, to museum galleries.

And his mother? Encouraged him greatly not only with her style/stylish home and taking him to museums, but by sitting on the flood next to him and drawing on his father’s old work papers.

By the way, the artwork in this book? It’s beautiful.

#16: The Quest for Z, Greg Pizzoli, 7-10 years
Career Path: Explorer, Adventure, Biologist, Scientist, Anthropologist, Archaeologist

British Explorer Percy Fawcett came from a family with adventure in their blood. His father was a member of the Royal Geographical Society, and Percy followed suit in his 20s. Calling a “blank spot” on a map in the jungles of Brazil the Lost City of Z, he was determined to find out what was there.

Which took him over 21 years to find!

The book follows his career path, sewn together by expeditions he goes on, what he packs for it, encounters and troubles he comes across, as well as briefly touching on finding funding for his quest.

P.S. I love the art in this book!

#17: Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, Chris Barton, 7-10 years
Career Path: Inventor, creator, toy-maker

The author does a great job of taking your kid through the ups and downs of an inventor’s career through an invention they’ll be highly interested in: the Super Soaker.

Lonnie Johnson actually stumbled into the invention by accident while working on some plumbing. But he had been an inventor and creator his whole life. His parents were very lenient on allowing him to mess with things as a kid, even though they had hardly any space with a boatload of kids in their mobile home.

I like that this book goes through the troubles Lonnie, and other inventors, can face. For Lonnie, he actually took a test telling him that he wasn’t going to be a good engineer. Boy was that proven wrong! At one point, Lonnie even quits his job, though it doesn’t pan out for a while. Of course, once he found a toy company to latch onto his idea, he was good to go.  

#18: When I Grow Up I’ll Be a Veterinarian, Connie Colwell Miller, 8-12 years
Career Path: (you guessed it) Veterinarian

The little girl in this book plays Dr. Thomas with her friend, Julia. What I like about the play is that it includes cool-sounding Veterinarian things – playing with animals, helping owners understand how to care for their pets – and the not so cool-sounding things such as giving vaccines and being on-call after leaving the office in case there is an emergency.

#19: Gifted Hands, Gregg Lewis, 8-12 years
Career Path: Doctor, medicine, nurse, surgeon, missionary

Ben Carson is a remarkable man. And his mother? Is quite remarkable herself. She went through great adversity during his childhood, starting with marrying out of the foster care system at the age of 13, then having the strength to raise her boys on her own after finding out her husband had another family.

What is most striking about her is her faith in God, hard work ethic, and ability to see that turning off the television (despite other people telling her she was crazy) and making her children lifetime lovers of reading.

Books, tempering his anger, his steadfast faith in God, and a mother who told him, “if you ask the Lord for something and believe he will do it, it will happen…” are all the reasons why Carson became a top neurosurgeon.

This book details some of the parts of being a neurosurgeon (or surgeon, for that matter) that are both glamorous and not, such as hugely complicated and long-lasting surgeries without much sleep, lots of schooling, tons of hard work, and life satisfaction.

#20: Chasing Space, Leland Melvin, 8-12 years
Career Path: Astronaut, Engineer

I love how within the first three paragraphs of this book, it clarifies something for a child looking to become an astronaut, “just because you’re an astronaut doesn’t mean you ever get to go into space. To go into space, you need to get assigned to a flight. It’s the last step in a journey that can take a lifetime. And not all astronauts walk in space. Some command or pilot the spacecraft. Others are mission specialists who do scientific experiments or work the shuttle’s robotic arm.” And of course he outlines all of the other jobs you can have at NASA without actually being an astronaut, such as computer technicians, lawyers, and nutritionists.

This book also touches on the application process to becoming an actual astronaut, with Melvin’s own 1998 class of 25 astronauts being chosen from 2,500 applications. They test your eye sight, your character, claustrophobia, psychological tests, etc. It’s quite rigorous. Then once you’re in your astronaut class? All kinds of training you have to go through like land survivalist and water survivalist training, and becoming a pilot of NASA’s T-38 jet.

Melvin also had to “trace the path” of his candidacy. In other words, tell them when he first knew he wanted to be an astronaut. What’s interesting is that he also had briefly played in the NFL, dreamed of being a tennis player as a child, and thought he’d work for DuPont or other chemical company. So, the path was not necessarily a straight one, which is so often the case for our careers (right?!).

This book also talks about Melvin’s struggles with racism growing up in the 1970s, and how this helped shape his aspirations.

Finally, in the back of the book are several really neat, STEM-inspired experiments for your budding engineer to do at home. The same kinds Melvin did when he was a kid!

#21: Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently, Patricia Lakin, 8-12 years
Career Path: Inventor, creator, tech, innovator, computers

Is your kiddo interested in inventors, creative thinkers, and/or technology buffs? Steve Jobs embodies each of these, plus more. Honestly, he’s a very quirky guy who has made some questionable choices, some of which are discussed in the book and others are not.

But what is great about this book from a career exploration viewpoint is showing the emerging of a brand-new industry and how one man tagged onto it, then led it.

Being an entrepreneur and pioneer is not all rainbows and unicorns. This book does not put a happy face on everything, and points out the struggles along the way as well. Such as working on dining room tables and in garages, making decisions that take entire decades to actually pay off, and creating a company that eventually kicks you out of it.

The talk about creating the first Apple computer and subsequent iterations I even found fascinating, and I’m not a tech-gal.

What I also loved about this book is how true Steve Jobs stayed to himself, and how curious he was. It weaves together his different interests – such as a calligraphy class taught by a former monk, and India – quite nicely into a fabric of influence that helped Apple emerge as the company + collection of products we know today.

Heads up: Jobs was a college dropout. He found it boring.

#22: The Finest Hours, Michael J. Tougias & Casey Sherman, 13+ years
Career Path: firefighter, policeman, coast guard, military, captain, rescue worker

I was entranced by this book. It’s an account of an actual situation in which two oil tankers near Cape Cod broke into two during a Nor’easter.

I mean…can you imagine? I get a chill just thinking about how bitterly cold this expedition was!

The book chronicles the nothing-short-of-heroic efforts of four coast guardsmen as they figure out how to get out to these sailors and save their lives.

As far as career exploration, I like how the author outlines a few of the coast guards’ individual pathways to actually getting into the guard. For example, Bernie who joined the WWII efforts in the U.S. Maritime Service and served on a merchant ship in the South Pacific. Then he enlisted in the Coast Guard. All this was after he was somewhat forced into ministry schooling but decided it was completely not for him.

11 Kid Money Challenges to Help Your Kid Self-Discover Practical Money Skills

Kid money challenge ideas | savings plan | free printable | I'm looking for money challenges for kids to teach my own some of the practical money skills I had to learn on my own! #kids #kidmoneychallenge #savingsplan #freeprintable | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/11-money-challenges-for-kids/

Worried you’re not teaching your kid enough practical money skills? These money challenges for kids will help them pick the skills up naturally.

There’s almost no better learning than naturally discovering the lessons by yourself.

And with a little prep work, we parents can help make this happen for our kid(dos)!

I’ve included 11 money challenges for kids below that will naturally help them learn practical money skills.

Don’t forget, have some fun with this!

Money Challenge #1: Play One Round of Monopoly…with a Financial Hardship

Everyone knows the game Monopoly, right (or at least has heard of it)?

I challenge your child to play a round of Monopoly, but a bit differently this time: with one of the 6 financial hardships detailed below.

The fact is, many people have financial hardships in life – either as a default, or just periodically throughout their lives. And since we’re at the stage in your child’s life where hardships can actually be prevented, I think it’s a great exercise to make them feel a bit of how they would feel if they were actually stuck in these money situations.

Prevention is worth it, my friends.

So here you go:

  1. Low Credit Score
  2. Pile of Student Loans
  3. Starting Up a Business
  4. Being in Debt to Someone You Know
  5. Getting Laid Off
  6. Past Creditors Hunting You Down

How do you add these hardships into your game play? Check out my post for directions on adding in some money life skills for kids to your Monopoly play.

Money Challenge #2: Hot Beverage Competition – Profit-Making Challenge

This is a different take on the lemonade stand — with a focus on teaching your child how to make a profit, something that’s important whether or not they want to employ themselves one day — and gives families a reason to spend a little time together both indoors and outdoors during the winter.

Each of your kids turns into a biz consultant for a day when they try to fulfill a need from the local Yeti Ski Lift. Jack, the owner, needs to create a new drink for a promo he’s doing. It’s gotta be a hot beverage. So, your kids are in competition to create the best-tasting drink that also makes at least a 60% profit.

Once the drinks are created, you all have a bonfire outside (heck, you can even light up the grill) and adults judge the various drinks to choose the winners.

Hint: there are winners in more than one category!

Money Challenge #3: The Great Penny Challenge

Stuck at Home Mom’s come up with a savings challenge any change-loving kid can appreciate.

On Day 1, you put a penny in the jar. On Day #2, you put two pennies in the jar. On Day #365, you put 365 pennies in the jar.

At the end of the year, increasing by a penny a day will yield your child $667 (plus an appreciation for how even little bits of money can really add up).

Money Challenge #4: 52-Week Savings Challenges for Kids/Teens

Mom Dot offers the 52-week savings challenge for both kids + teens:

  • Kids Savings Challenge: Start putting $0.25 each week into savings, and raise that amount by $0.25/week. By the end of the year, you kid will have a nice $344.50 set aside.
  • Teens Savings Challenge: Start by putting $1.00 each week into savings, and raise that amount by $1.00/week. By the end of the year, your teen will have $1,378 set aside!

Money Challenge #5: Charity Contribution Challenge

Have your kiddo go through the process of finding a charitable cause they’re passionate about, and then setting aside money to donate to.

Your kid can follow these steps:

  • Make a list of a handful of causes that you’re interested in, or passionate about. It could be a specific animal – whales, lions, penguins – or a cause, such as rainforest, feeding kids, helping the homeless, etc.
  • Go to CharityNavigator.org, and search for charities that deal with these causes.
  • Choose a charity, based on their score/mission on Charity Navigator.
  • Start to set aside 10% of allowance money/earnings to donate to this charity. If this is too open-ended, then decide on a set amount of time that you’ll set aside 10% of your money to donate such as for two months, one month, six months, or a year.
  • Actually make the contributions!

Hint: Your child doesn’t have a lot of money to donate right now. But one day they will! So show them that their little bit of money can go a long way by choosing from a list of charities where less than $12 goes a really long way

Money Challenge #6: Join a Stock Market Game

There are multiple LIVE stock market games online that your kiddo can join to dip their feet into investment waters.

Choose one to dive right in:

Money Challenge #7: Zero-Cost Entertainment Night Challenge

Each of your kid(dos) takes a turn of planning a family fun night. Choose the night of the week, and let them know any rules you have to begin with.

Now here’s the catch: they need to plan a night of fun that costs NOTHING (by “nothing”, I mean that you can set the rules, such as gas to get to somewhere like a park is okay, but no purchases made from a store).

Help them to think outside of the DVR-box (though those can be nice as well!).


Money Challenge #8: Become the Family Gas Finder

Your child can make a meaningful contribution to the household – something kiddos love – by being in charge of researching which gas station has the cheapest price.

Help them sign onto GasBuddy.com and look the costs up. Let them do this once a week or once a month to see how gas prices have changed, and if another station is cheaper.

Bonus: Talk to them about how many miles away the gas station is, and if it’s acceptable to travel there for the amount you’ll be saving.

Money Challenge #9: Dinner Budget Challenge

Let your kid(dos) take over the kitchen for the night. Give them a budget to work with, and help them to choose a meal to make based on that budget. Drive them to the store, and supervise as they pick out the ingredients (they might want to bring a calculator and add up the expenses as they go).

Then, help them as they prepare and serve the whole family the meal.

Here’s a link to 30 recipes that kids can cook to get you started.

Money Challenge #10: Find and Apply to One Scholarship

This could be for college, for a summer camp, for a program they really want to be part of; for anything, really. The point is to get kids invested in their future selves + help walk them through the process of finding and then applying for scholarship/grant money that is out there for the taking.

I’ve written an article about Linsey Knerl’s own son did this, winning $1,000 to put into his 529 college savings plan. Other contests they’ve entered so far have been coloring contests, essays, or simply a reading program goal reward with prizes varying between $25 and $20,000.

3 Places to Start their Money Search:

Money Challenge #11: The BIG KAHUNA Savings Challenge

Your kids probably want to do something “outrageous.”And by outrageous, I mean or out-of-budget for your family. Maybe you feel a little guilty for saying no; maybe you have absolutely no intention of ever giving in on this.

Whatever that big thing is…offer this to your kid: If you can save half of the cost to do it/buy it, then I’ll kick in the other half and we’ll actually do it.


Maybe it’s:

  • Buying a day pass to a theme park.
  • Spending the night at the beach an hour from your home instead of doing a day trip.
  • Buying a (used) car when they’re 16.
  • Getting a dog.
  • Going to see Taylor Swift in concert.

Not only will this thing not cost you as much, but you’ll have cemented some “cool parent” points in your child’s memory. Not bad.

And when they lose determination because they don’t believe they’ll ever reach their savings goal? Then use it as a teachable money moment with these 3 goal-saving steps.

Well, that’s it. Which money challenge are you most excited to introduce to your child? 

6 Game-Changing Ways to Play Monopoly to Teach Money Life Skills for Kids

Board games for kids | best | family | educational | 8-12 WOW, will this add some educational elements (like life skills for kids) to our board game family night! I can't wait to try this out. #boardgamesforkids #familyactivities #familygames #kids #lifeskills | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/6-game-changing-monopoly-money-life-skills-kids/

Dealing with money – whether there’s a lot of it, or a little of it – is one of the most critical life skills for kids to learn. Help them prevent some common financial hardships by living them out in a round of Monopoly.

Even though there can be a lot of strategy to the game of Monopoly, the reality is, most of it still comes down to luck.

You can make bad purchase decisions – driving your cash down to nearly zero – but get saved last minute by landing on free parking (depending on how your household plays). Or jail suddenly becomes a valuable asset because it means you can no longer land on people’s properties and so you don’t owe any bills.

Wouldn’t we all just like to sit around all day and roll a dice?

It’s not exactly reality.

Let’s supplement the “luck” part of Monopoly play, and add in some thoughtful actions and decision-making.

We’ll accomplish this by handing your child a sucky, but all-too-common, financial situation to deal with (taken from the real book of life!) that will limit their ability in some way to play.

Financial Hardship #1: Low Credit Score

Dose of Reality: Having a low credit score will definitely put a damper on trying to buy property in real life.

Anyone ever try to get a mortgage with a 530-credit score? It’s basically impossible. I like how in Monopoly the player must pay back the bank the mortgage + 10%…but it’s not realistic how Monopoly assumes each player has a really great credit history and can mortgage their homes to begin with to get a quick infusion of cash.

How it affects their Play: You need to secure a co-signer (another player) each time you want to purchase a property. If you go bankrupt, they’ll be responsible for buying that property from you to give you the cash you need. If no one wants to co-sign with you? You’re out of luck. No deal.

Financial Hardship #2: Pile of Student Loans

Dose of Reality: It’s hard to become a real estate mogul when you pop out the college gates in debt. Lots of debt.

Student loans can be a great investment in your future – I came out of college with $36,000, myself. However, it’s critical for your child to realize that taking out student loans is going to change and/or limit the way they can live right out of college. There will be sacrifices they’ll need to make to their lifestyle in order to pay them back.

How it affects your play: For the first two rounds of the board, each piece of property you land on you must pay half the cost of to the bank…to go towards your student loans. That’s because before you can think of purchasing property, you’ve got to pay down that debt and put yourself in better financial standing to be a property owner.

Financial Hardship #3: Starting Up a Business

Dose of Reality: Starting up a small business is time-consuming, and there’s rarely enough consistent cash to take a salary from it at least for the first few years.

We business owners know and understand that owning a business can reap rewards – both lifestyle and financial – far beyond what we could find at a 9-5 job. BUT, we also know that in the beginning (and maybe even in the middle), income can be quite inconsistent.

How it affects your play: When you pass Go, the amount you collect is not $200 each time. You roll your dice, and multiply the amount you get by 20. That is your income each time you pass Go. So, if you roll a 12, you get $240 – woohoo! But if you roll a 2? You get just $40.

Financial Hardship #4: Being in Debt to Someone You Know

Dose of Reality: While it may seem like a great idea to take a loan from family and friends, in real life, doing so can strain your relationship.

This one’s juicy. It’s wonderful to have family and friends to fall back on for loans when the going gets tough, especially in your early 20s when you’re just starting out. But it can also strain relationships and make things feel, well, a bit…icky.

How it affects your play: The player to your left is the person whom you owe $500 to. Have them hand you over $500 of their money. Here’s the catch – since you borrowed that $500 from them, they have $500 less in their lives and their game play. You can pay them back as quickly or as slowly as you’d like. But don’t be surprised if they want to be paid back on the “quick” side, since their ability to live their life (aka, play the game) has been diminished.

Financial Hardship #5: Getting Laid Off

Dose of Reality: Layoffs happen. Meaning paychecks stop, and sometimes rather suddenly.

You’re reading the blog of a 4-time, lay-off veteran. That’s right – my husband and I have collectively been laid off 4 times in the last 10 years. Ouch. So, this one is close to my heart!

How it affects your play: Your pay when you pass “Go” is reduced to a percentage of what you would get in unemployment insurance. Roll your dice. This is the number of board rounds you’ll only receive $60 when you pass “Go”.

Financial Hardship #6: Creditors Creeping Up from Your Past

Dose of Reality: Zombie debt is a real thing – creditors you thought had forgotten about you will come to find you again (oftentimes when you’re trying to do something big in your life, like buy a home).

Past debts can really affect our current and future money decisions. Generally, it limits what we can and cannot buy, and if we can get a loan for something like a car or a home. Now’s the time to learn this lesson instead of after poor money management decisions have been made and your child is stuck dealing with it.

How it affects your play: Each time you pass “Go”, you’ll need to also draw one card from the Zombie Debt pile. Good luck to you.

The money lessons are going to be many during this game (and the frustrations might be high). Here are some questions to ask your child about what they learned + start that money dialogue:

  • How did your particular financial hardship affect your ability to play the game?
  • What were you and were you not able to do?
  • What were you surprised that you weren’t able to do?
  • What were you surprised that you were still able to do?