When we play The Money Game with kids, teens and adults, we like to focus on the financial habits it takes to become financially free. We compare the habits of financial free, rich, wealthy people with poor people and yes, they are poor. You can call them low-income if you want because you think it sounds nicer, but the fact is, they are poor.

Pay Yourself First

And they are poor for the opposite reasons rich people are rich. They DIDN’T do what it takes to get rich. And yes, some people ARE born with a silver spoon in their mouths but the fact is, if you don’t do the right thing with your money, whether it’s given to you or earned, you will lose it eventually.

Within the context and rounds of The Money Game, in addition to learning to budget wisely, spend wisely, save and invest wisely and donate regularly, the habit we  repeat over and over again by having the players actually DO the habit is…


Now if you don’t know what ‘Pay Yourself First’ means, it’s OK. Lots of adults don’t have a clue. Heck, I didn’t really understand what it meant until my 30’s when I realized I had to teach myself about money and investing.

(Which is why I do this now:-)

Pay Yourself First means to take a percentage (let’s start with 10%) of every paycheck (whether you work for yourself or someone else) and you put it away, and invest it, for when you don’t want to have to trade your time and energy (work) for money anymore.

In other words, it means you take some of your hard earned money and put it to work for YOU so you don’t have always work for IT.

How to Use Money Game to Reinforce Pay Yourself First

If you’re a Money Game Coach, we have a new technique that nails this financial habit home…and I owe a huge Thank You to Jan Ruskin who works with me for starting it! All you do it this…

During each round of the game, starting with Round Two, after you’ve talked about Pay Yourself First, when the players come up to you to get their paychecks, simply say to them…

“And what are you going to do?”

They will say, “Pay Myself First.”

You need to do this EVERY round for EVERY player.

The action they take once they get their paycheck and have answered you correctly is to go back to their seats/desks, rip off $100 and put it into their Game Register (aka Bank Account).

You have to monitor this at first because they’ll try to do it after they pay their expenses but that is not the point. That’s called the Left-Over Investing Strategy and it does not work! So make sure you have a second set of adult eyes to make sure they are actually going back to their registers to Pay Themselves First!

And there you go…that’s how easy it is to teach kids and teens to Pay Yourself First.