NEW! Virtual Version of the Bean Game (and Extension Activity too)

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Mar 31, 2020
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Budgeting, Activity, Activities, Teaching Remotely

The Bean Game stands out as a definite teacher and student favorite. It has a simple set-up, it's student-centered and applies core budgeting principles such as wants vs. needs and adjusting for financial hardships. Knowing that many of you are now teaching remotely, we developed a virtual map where students make their choices on the map with capital letter Os ("O") instead of beans. This game takes on even more relevance in light of the financial adjustments that many families are making now in light of the pandemic. 

To take the game a step further, Jane Viau extended this activity by developing additional "life happens" events where students select strips of paper with events on them. To do virtually, you might call on one student at a time and have them select a number from 1 to 12. You could then read the event that corresponds to the number below. 

Here's are the events and their impact: 

  • #1: You broke your leg.  If you have health insurance, you don’t need to do anything.  If you don’t have health insurance, take off 3 beans.
  • #2: You just got a 2-bean raise!  Decide where it should be spent.
  • #3: The real estate market is booming and landlords have raised rents this year. If you are living with relatives, do nothing. If you are sharing an apartment with roommates or live alone, take off 2 beans.
  • #4: Your cable bill has increased. If you do not have cable, do nothing. If you have cable, you must move one of your beans to cable from another spot.
  • #5: Your car needs new tires.   If you do not have a car, do nothing. If you have a car, take off 2 beans.
  • #6: Your best friend is getting married and has asked you to be in the wedding party.  Move 3 beans to the last category under Gifts from another location.
  • #7: Your winter coat has ripped and cannot be repaired. You must replace it. Take off 1 bean.
  • #8: Your microwave broke and you need to replace it. Take off 1 bean.
  • #9: An air conditioner leak from your upstairs neighbor destroyed your computer. If you have renters insurance, do nothing. If you do not have renters insurance, take off 2 beans.
  • #10: The stove in your apartment has broken and the landlord has informed you that it will take one month to replace it.  You will need to utilize the middle section in the Food category [3 beans] since you are unable to cook any hot meals at home; make necessary adjustments in your bean allocation.
  • #11: Your friends are taking part in a summer share in a beach house for the summer and have asked you to join them. If you decide to do this, you must allocate 3 beans to the last section in the Recreation category.  If you decide to pass on this opportunity, do nothing.
  • #12: The mattress on your bed got ruined and must be replaced.  Take off 1 bean.

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Thanks to Lynne Tierney for this teacher tip on how to set up for asynchronous learning:

If you need to make the wild cards asynchronously viable, you could try this tool:  https://wheeldecide.com/.   I haven't tried it yet, but some friends have been swearing by it.  I'm going to try to put the wild cards in the wheel and tell the kids to spin it at certain times in the game.  

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.