Road-testing the Suncorp ESSI Money Family Challenge

Financial Basics’ ESSI Money was co-designed with Liquid way back in 2007, with the aim to improve the financial literacy of Australian school students.

Now partnered with Suncorp, the latest regenerated iteration of Financial Basics' ESSI Money Game is the Suncorp ESSI Money Family Challenge, broadening the game’s audience beyond the classroom.

ESSI Money is primarily available free of charge to Australian secondary school teachers to use in their classrooms. However, customers of the Suncorp network now have the opportunity to access the game. Families can use the game to improve kid’s knowledge and understanding of money management, such as opening a bank account, choosing the best credit card, evaluating the potential risk of financial opportunities and avoiding scams.

Having two sons smack dab in the game’s target age (Year 8 and Year 12) I thought it would be interesting to see how they fared. I knew they were very good at saving their money, but only because they were experts of spending ours.

I set up the account on the Suncorp site (very straightforward) and presented the game to them. We talked it through and, once they stopped muttering about being dragged away from the PlayStation, the Challenge was on! 

Over the next two weeks (in between assignments, rehearsals, training, more assignments, family gatherings, exams, friends, even more assignments, school evenings, real-life jobs and, a little bit of parental reminding), the three of us completed the challenge.

The winner of our family challenge is a (very smug) 13-year-old!

Reviews:

B: I really enjoyed it! I set up a bank account and got a job. Sometimes I did the financial challenges and sometimes I didn’t – it depended on how much time they took to do. I didn’t get a credit card – I just made sure my bills were paid on time. I just tried to get the highest paying job I could as quickly as possible and kept that for the rest of the game. I really liked trying to buy and sell things on iBuy – I did that a few times. I tried selling my guitar for $100,000 but no one seemed to want it for some strange reason! I would have liked to have got more texts and financial opportunities from people in the game. The ones we got were good (though I fell for a scam at one stage – I should have read it a bit closer). I’ll do better next time!

L: It was okay, but I rushed it because of my assignments and my actual job. It would have been good to do properly. I skimmed over things a lot which probably meant I didn’t make the best decisions, like getting a better job earlier. I skipped the Finance Weekly articles and investment stuff and just did the iBuy and financial opportunity stuff and – are you writing all of this down? Do you have to tell people my brother won? It’s embarrassing!

What’s clear from the onset is that, much like real life, you’re more likely to get a better result from the game based on the time and effort you invest into it. This is easier in a school environment, where time can be fixed and focussed – it’s a little trickier in a home environment to find that focus, but that’s a lesson in itself. Many financial decisions are made on the fly, and many need time to review, compare and weigh up the options and the level of risk. For those decisions, time needs to be made.

As Suncorp’s research says, 82% of Aussie millennials have hardly any idea about managing money. A game like the Suncorp ESSI Money Family Challenge is a great springboard into discussions about financial literacy with your kids. In our house, finishing the game sparked a long (and interesting) discussion about credit cards, credit card debt and the consequences of mismanaging them. I’m sure it won’t be the last discussion either!

Read the ESSI Money case study:

Improving the financial literacy of Australian school students 

Rob O'Connor
Rob O'Connor Senior Instructional Designer