New Game Helps Young Adults Become Financially Literate

A new interactive game by the American Institute of CPAs and the Ad Council helps educate millennials about healthy financial decision-making.

A 2016 survey from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) showed just how important saving money is for millennials, with roughly one-third (34 percent) ranking it as their chief priority. However, poor spending habits—such as impulse buying—combined with relatively low wages and debt accumulation are major obstacles for young adults when it comes to saving for important things down the road.

To help young adults reach their financial goals and better educate them about making responsible financial decisions, AICPA, together with the Ad Council, recently launched a free digital game.

In “Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” players are presented with true-to-life scenarios—everything from adopting a pet and buying a car to purchasing a home and getting married—which entail long-term financial implications. “All of these choices are faced by young adults every single day,” said Sean Stein Smith, Ph.D., CPA, a member of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, who was involved in the game’s review and editing process.

Smith, who is also an assistant professor at Rutgers University, said that there are two facets to financial literacy. Young adults must first be aware of the information sources available to them. Second, they must be able to process this information and apply it to their personal financial lives. The end goal, Smith said, is for young adults to be able to access the right resources that will help them chart their financial futures. Smith believes this new game does just that. “The game itself and the format really hammers home the importance—the whole picture—of these choices and the ability to see how they influence one another,” he said.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow conveys the importance of financial literacy in a manner that is both familiar and comfortable to young adults, particularly those ages 18 to 35 who play an important role in the economy. Games are hands-on, practical, and allow users to measure their progress in a virtual environment, making it an effective medium for engaging with the target audience. Since the game “builds on itself,” Smith said choices are not made in isolation, underscoring the ripple effects of each personal financial decision.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow is the latest resource from the Feed the Pig campaign, which began in 2006 to help young adults develop better money habits. With this new game creating another avenue to engage young adults on the sometimes-drab topic of personal finances, Smith said AICPA has “embraced the mission of financial literacy.” He also hopes the game will make young adults more aware of the resources at their disposal. “I would always emphasize that individuals have these resources and should make the most of them,” he said.

A screenshot from "Yesterday's Tomorrow." (handout photo)

Thorne McFarlane

By Thorne McFarlane

Thorne is an assistant editor for Associations Now and a literature buff who loves a great story. Have something interesting to share? Send it his way. MORE

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