The Game of “Real” Life

While home with the little people over summer break, we engage in several activities.  Reading, school work, pool, basketball and my personal favorite board games.  We rolled out Hasbro, The Game of Life.  Here is their description of the game of life via

Where will your choices take you?
You made it through high school, so now what’s next? Go to college or start a career -it’s your choice. Think the family life is for you? Take that path and see how many kids you’ll have! Will you venture down the risky road where fortunes can be won… and lost? Do whatever it takes to retire in style with the most wealth at the end of the game.
Spin the wheel of fate and take a drive along the twisting roads families have enjoyed for more than 50 years! Do good deeds as you go through the game to earn Life Tiles and more money down the road!

Yes, where will your choices lead you in the game of life.  This was an excellent opportunity to have some fun but as I was playing the game, I realized while this is fun we can teach our children some valuable lessons.  Here are my observations about our game and how applicable things can be in the The Game of  “Real Life”. Just to refresh your memory before the game begins you must choose if you are going to go the path of career or college.  Of course, we can discuss how the game forces you to start working immediately after high school or go to college, but save that for another day.   That would be a long discussion, I would rather discuss how the game never touches on owning a business. Next, everyone starts with the same amount of money from the bank, but you get more money on payday. Interesting , while you can make money several different ways you can actually win without ever landing on payday.  Really? So you mean to tell me I can have a job never get paid and still win in the game called life. Back to the program, next the game will eventually force you to purchase a home and have children.  After a couple of spins, changing careers and having babies.  Here are three keys points that I shared with my children.

First, educated choices are important!   I watched my son get deeper in debt without a single question. The game forced him to borrow money with no cash on hand. There were several houses to choose from and what did my son chose, the most expensive house with the lowest salary.  Sound familiar, people purchasing more home than they can afford getting deeper in debt with no knowledge of how to manage money or make money.  Your circle needs to  include successful people who have well rounded experiences in life.  In the multitude of counsel there is safety. They are not making the decision for you, they are merely providing information so that you can make an educated decision.

Second, pay off your debts when you have the chance.  My son and I kept putting of paying our debt and in the end we when it was time to retire we had to pay off all our debt, sell our house and count up all the money to see who wins. While playing the game and moving around the board, we had plenty opportunity to pay off debt.  We were either drifting along so concerned about “payday” that we never assessed what he had and what should be done first.  We were forced to purchase motorcycles, pay lawsuits, change careers but as in real life you get lost and lose sight of your goals.  Please note, when you sell your house it hits you hard.  The bank charges us $5,000 interest for $20,000 but when we sold the house we only got $5,000 profit.  This is not funny, this sounds like “Real” life.

Third, the game starts everyone of at the same position with the same amount of cash on hand. Wow, that would great in real life. I had to explain that where we are today is based purely on the choices and decision that we made years ago.  Watch who you play the game with and how you play the game, not just this board game but real life.   I allowed my children to make their decisions concerning the game, with little direction.  I think it was an eye opener and learning experience for me more than them.

Finally, my daughter wins the game, yippee she is super excited.  She is miss competitive, she wins most of our games in the house.  Next up is Cashflow Game by Robert Kiyosaki, this game is a little more intense and will require a calculator.   This version is not intended for their age group, but my children are talented, intelligent and we as parents must expose them to as much as we can to ensure their success in the game called LIFE…REAL LIFE!