Board games have always been a great way to spend quality time with family. The board games that have stood the test of time are often challenging, unpredictable, and (hopefully) fun for everyone playing.
A lot of those classic board games from your youth also had some important financial lessons to teach. You may not have noticed it at the time, but these seven popular games all had hidden messages about money that have likely stuck with you throughout the years.
Wrecker of homes. Eater of time. Monopoly is the kind of game you either love or you hate. Unlike most of the other games on this list, Monopoly is primarily about money, so it makes sense that there are financial lessons to be learned.
You could argue that the game rewards greed and is a lesson in the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. Ultimately, though, the lesson you should really take away from Monopoly is the importance of wise investing. Winning Monopoly requires that you use your money to create more money. You don’t have to be a railway tycoon to see the benefits of letting your money grow.
Chess is a complex game and personal finance can be a complex undertaking. While some chess players are clearly better than others, anyone playing chess at any level benefits from thinking ahead. Great chess players can think many, many moves into the future. They don’t just see the board as it is – they see all the possibilities of what it could be.
Successfully managing money requires that you not only account for your present condition, but that you also consider possible future conditions. Good personal finance means preparing your money and yourself for both likely and unlikely future events. The further you can see, the better you can plan, and the more likely you are to succeed.
Sorry! is called Sorry! because repeatedly throughout the game players find themselves bumping other players back to the starting line. While you might say “sorry” and mean it the first few times, after a while, “sorry” becomes less sincere and more sarcastic.
What’s important about Sorry! is that going back to the start is frustrating, but it isn’t catastrophic. You make great progress and then, right before the finish line, you get sent all the way back to the beginning. It’s irritating and it seems to happen all too often, but you can recover. Your game isn’t over.
When it comes to your finances or your career or really anything, it’s frustrating to see all your progress undone. But you can recover. You can still reach the finish line. Just pull a new card and get back to work.
Risk is a game of global conflict, where everyone is invading everyone else. Because success depends on a roll of the dice, it can feel like winning and losing depends entirely on luck. In reality, luck is part of the equation, but success usually depends much more on having a solid strategy and taking calculated risks (go figure).
The same is true of success with money. Luck is a part of it. Some things will always be out of your control. You give yourself a better chance of reaching your goals, however, if you’ve got a great strategy and you’re willing to take smart risks.
Into every Scrabble player’s life, a few Xs must fall. Sometimes you’re dealt a bad set of letters in Scrabble. The difference between someone who wins at Scrabble and someone who loses is very rarely the difference between good letters and bad letters, though. A winning Scrabble player usually makes the most of whatever hands they’ve been dealt. It works the same way with personal finance.
Financial success largely depends on your ability to make the most of what you’re given. If the circumstances are poor, you do your best to make it work until you’re dealt a better hand. Everyone gets their share of seemingly impossible circumstances. As long as you don’t quit and keep trying, you’ll always have a great chance at succeeding.
You might not think that a game about drawing has much to do with personal finance, but you’d be wrong. And that’s because Pictionary isn’t really a game about drawing or artistic ability. It’s about communication. Good Pictionary players don’t have to be great artists – they have to be great communicators.
You see, in Pictionary, winning isn’t dependent on your ability to draw a lifelike horse. Instead, winning is dependent on your ability to get your partner to guess “horse.” It requires that you understand your partner and design your picture to best communicate the idea of a horse in a way they'll quickly recognize.
Good communication is crucial to managing personal finances in a relationship. You need to understand how your partner communicates and keep the lines of communication open at all times. Misunderstandings can be damaging to any relationship, but financial misunderstandings can be especially destructive.
Taken at face value, Life might have the worst money lesson of all: after all, according to the game, the person who makes it to retirement with the most money “wins.” Of course real life isn’t won or lost and having the most money might make some things easier, but it doesn’t make your life a success.
Instead, the real lesson of Life is that life really is a journey. There’s success. There’s failure. There are roadblocks and windfalls. Life the game, like life itself, is weird and arbitrary and hard to predict, but like life, and like every game you can play, how much you enjoy it depends much more on who you play it with and how you play it, then on whether or not you win or lose.
Money will come and money will go. You’ll likely never have more than you can spend, or less than you need to survive. What matters is how you spend the time around all your earning, planning, spending, and saving.