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Lessons Learned From The American Classic Game Of Monopoly

28 October 2009 One Comment

Who wants to play Monopoly? This question is usually followed by a chorus of moans and groans. After all, who really wants to commit the next four hours of their life to something that seems to inevitably end in a brawl? I happen to love Monopoly, but finding players to participate in this historical game always proves to be a difficult task. But if you look past all the ordeals such as fighting over the rules, trash talking amongst family, or that friend that suspiciously must be the banker, there are some truly applicable lessons to be learned.

Real Estate

Monopoly incorporates a number of economic principles, but essentially it is a game of real estate. It provides a terrific illustration of how investing in the right property at the right location can provide a consistent flow of cash. Personally, I am a proponent of the Greens, because they are the most expensive with three spots to land. As in the real world of real estate, your timing is also crucial. If you spread yourself too thin early and invest in property you can’t afford, you will go broke. However, rather than foreclose or file Chapter 11 as in real life, you will just find yourself watching TV for 3 hours waiting for everyone else to finish the game. This is a much more comfortable way to learn a vital life lesson.


I have a big Monopoly secret to share with you all today. Something I have done for as long as I can remember playing. Once the game gets going, and money starts flying around, I look for the opportune time to slide some money under the board directly in front of me. This can usually be done with some careful misdirection. I aim to start with at least a $500, but as the game wears on, I will try to sneak two or three more $500’s under the board. Let me assert that I don’t perceive this as cheating, although others have contested that your money should remain transparent to the rest of the playing field. I disagree with that notion, in the real world, no one needs to know exactly how much money you have other than the IRS. However, keep the money under the board; don’t put it in your pocket because then people will assume you are just a cheater (and a weirdo) that carries extra Monopoly money around in case a game breaks out. One of the reasons I like this strategy is it keeps me from spending too much, which is an important lesson to take into the real world. When your money is in a separate savings account as oppose to your pocket, you think twice before spending. Out of sight, out of mind. The other reason I like this tactic is it serves as a “rainy day fund,” like if you come across a hotel on Boardwalk. Plus, it feels really gratifying in Monopoly to whip out some money just when everyone thinks you’re about to go down. This is another important lesson that translates to real life. Everyone should strive to keep cash reserves for surprise expenses (i.e. auto, home, medical etc.).

As people age beyond their twenties, it appears they lose their stamina for those marathon Monopoly games. So, take advantage now. Next Friday night, stay inside and save some money. Blow the dust off the game board, deal out some Monopoly money, and learn some financial advice from the most successful American board game of all-time. Just keep the brawling to a minimum.

A regular contributor to 20smoney.com, John is a 20-something that resides in Orlando, FL with aspirations in writing, entrepreneurship and investing.

One Comment »

  • Daniel said:

    AI have a problem trying to hide money from myself. I have ING, and I set up a savings account, but the truth is, what's the difference if I have $1,500 in one account and $300 in the subsavings account vs. $1,800 in my savings? I don't use it as a checking account anyway, so to me, it's all in savings. When I need to utilize that subsavings account, I'm going to spend that $300 regardless of which account it's in. If my emergency fund has enough (1, 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, depending on who you ask), why bother hiding money? And if it's not fully funded, why not throw that extra money in there if you won't take it out since it's for emergencies only?

    Also, what financial tips can we get about RISK?