[IMGCAP(1)] It’s a game with real life lessons – today (Nov. 10) marks the day when fifth and sixth graders in 350 Ohio classrooms will get to make big spending, saving and budgeting decisions with help from CPAs and volunteers from The Ohio Society of CPAs.

The lesson will be played out in a game called FETCH!, which stands for Financial Education Teaches Children Healthy Habits. The goal? To empower children with good money management skills at an early age so they are prepared to make wise financial decisions as adults.

Families across America continue to struggle in managing their finances. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 77 percent of U.S. families are in debt with 46 percent holding credit card debt.

The FETCH! playing field is a colorful dog park where teams of students compete to handle the finances of owning a pet. With each turn, students use critical math and thinking skills to earn money for basics like a leash and collar, budget for unexpected expenses and save money for the future.

If your dog is naughty, you could end up paying to fix the neighbor’s fence. If he learns a new trick or wins first place in the dog show, you get rewarded with money to put in your savings account. The team that ends the game with the most money in their savings account, and the most items for their pooch, wins.

More important, it drives home the concept that sometimes you must delay buying what you want now so that you can afford what you need later.

FETCH! was created as a public service for Ohio families by The Ohio Society of CPAs and its charitable affiliate, The Ohio CPA Foundation. The groups collaborated with elementary school teachers and a curriculum developer on the game which includes a testing component that measures whether students have mastered a basic understanding of financial terms.