I am a board game nut. I get excited when Christmas rolls around and all the new games show up in the stores. I also love the classics. So why, in a world of electronic entertainment, do I love board games? There’s no single reason. I’ve learned over the years that board games offer a variety of benefits for people of all ages. Some are directly finance-related, such as learning about money, and others benefit your bottom-line indirectly with lower health costs and inexpensive entertainment. Here are some of the benefits to having a house full of board games (and actually playing them).
Learn about money: Lots of board games have a finance component. Life, Monopoly, and Pay Day are three of the most popular. Money-based games encourage kids to learn about handling money and gives them a fun and safe way to learn how money works and to test out money ideas. There are now money games that use a “credit card” rather than cash, and those can have a place in financial development, too. Use game time as a time to teach a little bit about how money and credit works.
Keep the old brain engaged: For the older set, playing games is an inexpensive way to keep your brain active and healthy and, hopefully, stave off dementia or age related memory loss. When you play games, you have to think and make decisions. Some games make you memorize or spell. The act of learning the rules of a new game also gives your brain a boost. Play with your old favorites and introduce new games, as well.
Helps kids develop: Depending on the game, kids learn about rules, how to win and lose gracefully, taking turns, pattern matching, counting, vocabulary, memorization or strategizing. Different games support different skills, so playing a variety of games will encourage the development of more skills. Playing games with your kids is much cheaper than hiring a special tutor or enrolling in special programs.
Inexpensive quality time: A new game typically averages around $20 (less for kid’s games). That is less than the cost of taking the group to the movies and you benefit from re-playability, whereas something like a movie is a one shot deal. Unlike other forms of entertainment that are passive like movies, games give you a chance to talk while you play and to interact with each other. Some games also let you learn about other people by asking them questions about their
preferences or placing them in, “What if” situations. It’s inexpensive quality time for both families and groups of friends.
Stress relief: Playing games is a good way to get away from the problems of the real world. Some games are just plain silly and make you laugh and others, like chess, require intense concentration on something other than your problems. Games are a good way to escape for awhile and relax. It’s much less expensive (and fun) to play games than to end up on blood pressure medication or in therapy.
Physical activity: No, you’re never going to get a six pack from just playing board games. However, some games do require you to get up and move around. Twister is a fine example. Other games like Cranium or Dicecapades have tasks that require you to get up and act something out, or complete a challenge like balancing on one foot while holding something in your hand. It’s a simple way to get a little more activity into your day, which can keep you healthier than just plopping in front of the TV.
Board games can be played almost anywhere and in any weather. They’re great for sunny picnics and winter snow days. There are games for every age and interest, too. It’s an inexpensive and versatile pastime that yields some surprising health and financial benefits.