Play Board Games for Frugal Fun

Last night my family sat down and played The Game of Life. I remember playing it with my younger brother when we’d go to my grandparents’ house on Sunday afternoons. And now I play the same game with my children. I hope they remember our family game nights fondly when they grow older!

There are several reasons I love playing board games. I’m competitive and like the challenge. They’re a great distraction from the pressures of life. I love to hear my children laugh as we play. If you’re not convinced that board games are your thing, consider the following.

Playing Board Games is a Frugal Way to Bond

Playing board games costs nothing more than a one time investment in the game, and most board games cost under $20. And while everyone is sitting around the table playing, memories are being made. Memories that last forever.

I still remember a holiday spent at my grandparents house. The entire extended family was there. I don’t remember whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I do remember we all sat in the living room playing Trivial Pursuit. We had two teams, the men and the women. And I remember being amazed at how much my grandparents knew!

All these years later, I look back at that night with great fondness. And it didn’t cost a thing.

Playing Board Games Teaches Life Lessons

Kids can learn a lot from playing board games. There are basic lessons, like taking turns and being a good loser and a gracious winner.

But as kids get older, more advanced skills are honed. Logic, memory recall, decision making skills. These are all important in life, and they can be learned in an entertaining way as the family plays together. The kids don’t even realize they’re learning lessons.

Last night while playing The Game of Life, our family talked about how decisions you make early in life can follow you for the rest of your years. Whether to go to college, how much to spend on a house, how many children you have…all of these things impact you in one way or another for a long time. It was a great discussion!

The Entire Family Can Enjoy Board Games

Our family consists of two adults, an 11 year old girl, and a 6 year old boy. It is very difficult to come up with activities that my daughter and son both enjoy. If my son enjoys something, my daughter generally thinks it’s too boyish or too babyish. If my daughter enjoys something, my son thinks it’s too girlish, or the activity is way over his head.

But board games can often be adapted to different ages. Even though The Game of Life is suggested for kids 9 years old and up, my son still enjoyed playing. I don’t know that he “got” all the rules and instructions, but he sure enjoyed moving his car around and counting his money!

One Last Bonus From Our Game Night

As we were playing last night, I became aware of exactly how much my daughter looks up to me and learns from me. As she took the first turn, she had to decide whether to pick a career or go to college. To pick college meant going into debt. My daughter looked at me, declared that debt is bad and opted for the career. (I do hope that in real life she attends college, but tries to minimize the debt while getting her degree.)

Later in the game she had to choose her starter home. She picked a home that she could easily afford, because she didn’t want to tie up all her money in a house. She then declared she made the frugal choice!

It’s nice to know that at age 11 my daughter knows more about personal finance than I did at 18. And I learned it by playing a game with her!

Do you ever play board games with your family? Which ones are your favorites?

Photo by Ella’s Dad.


By , on Sep 16, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. marci357:

    Actually – the New Rules Scrabble game is actually a new game too – called Scrabble Trickster….. I think my grandkids will get into this :)

  2. marci357:

    And did you hear that Scrabble has NEW RULES! Proper nouns and etc will be allowed…. this will sure help out with some of the grandkids words :) They say it is to encourage a new generation of kids to play scrabble…

    My grands like Upwards and Life also. As well as ANY card game.

  3. my new favorite board game is scrabble, its fun for the whole family no matter how old you are and also gives your brain a lil workout in the meantime

  4. The benefits of this close family time are so wide and far reaching for all family members. It teaches kids how to think, express themeselves, win with dignity, lose with dignity, and families become closer and tighter. I wish more families had these kind of night and spent this kind of time together.

    Great article topic.

  5. That bit about kids remembering family time through board games is just so true. A friend doesn’t remember much about his childhood but he definitely remembers their board game nights :)

    Interesting post and equally interesting comments thread you’ve got here :)

  6. Fun Child Games:

    Board games are actually good for the children. It is not just fun but it is also beneficial to the the kids as there vocabulary will be enhanced with it.

  7. Jane:

    We love playing “Uno” on family nights because everyone can play including very young children..they may not know all their numbers but most young children know their colors. The numbers are big enough for that special person (Hubby) that doesn’t like wearing their glasses (hint hint). The teens even like playing too….


    Whether you’re playing checkers, chess, Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders, do it outside on the porch, the picnic table or on a blanket whenever weather permits. Evidence is mounting that the more exposure to Nature kids get, the less their likelihood of developing ADD, ADHD or other problems.

  9. Lis:

    Playing board games with your family has a lot of benefits. One of my fave is chess. Playing chess enhances my concentration. Other board games like Cashflow 101, Tycoon and many more really help kids become aware of their finances.

  10. There are 4 in our family; 3 of us will play games, 1 hates them (it’s Dad). However, there are a few that we can convince him to play. Just this morning as I was preparing for work, I thought to myself that it’s about time to start our game nights back up. We find this easy to do in the fall and winter months when we no longer want to be outside later in the day and evening. Our favorites are card games, Pictureeka, dominos and Uno. Our youngest daughter and i do puzzles together too. We have a table in the basement that we can place a puzzle on and if we don’t get it done in one sitting it’s ok to leave it out and we can pick it up again when it’s convenient.

  11. Pamela:

    My kids love “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” . I have one daughter in 5th grade and one in second and it is so much fun!

  12. Bill G Games:

    Man i love to play chess with my dad and mom and bros and family and all my friends chess one my favorite board games

  13. Julia:

    I have always enjoyed playing board games, with family as well as friends. It is something everyone enjoys, and it costs absolutely nothing!

  14. Hubby and I try to play a board game every weekend as part of our “date night.” Chess and dominos are our two favorites.

  15. marci:

    As my oldest grandchild is 10, and the others range between that and 1 yr old, we tend to play something in the middle range when all together – like Chutes and Ladders.

    We do play a LOT of card games and domino games.
    And this weekend while camping, the 9 yr old brought out the Scrabble board (which she can only play when the little ones are not around for fear of losing the tiles) and we played while cooking dinner on the campstove… or she played mostly with some help from Grammi :)

    They will be learning Monopoly and others as they get older and as I find the games at garage sales :) Life would be a good one – I remember it from a Long Long time ago! Yes – they had it when I was a kid! Ancient game :)

  16. karyn sweet:

    When my husband and I were dating, his roommate would laugh at us for staying home on a weekend and doing puzzles. But we saved money (and health from not going out to drink), created happy memories, and are blessed with a joyful marriage. Seems like a good deal!

  17. AngelSong:

    We also love board games. My brothers and I played Monopoly as children, and my second )and current) husband and I got to know each other over a Scrabble board, because we had little or no money for going out. Board games are a great way to spend time and laugh together, which is vital to any healthy relationship.

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