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6 Real-Life Money Lessons From Monopoly: Finance Basics

Kim Galeta • December 21, 2023

Monopoly is a game of strategy that offers ways to manage your money while teaching you about building a secure financial future. Thinking about dusting off your childhood Monopoly board? While you’re at it, here are the top 6 real-life money lessons from this timeless board game.

When I was growing up, my favorite board game was Monopoly. Recently, I decided to re-explore the game with my nieces and nephews. And, wow! I realize now just how many life lessons can be learned from this classic game.

For starters, Monopoly is a game of strategy that offers ways to manage your money while teaching you about building a secure financial future. And trust me, you can learn a lot about how to get ahead financially by playing Monopoly.

Thinking about dusting off your childhood Monopoly game? While you’re at it, here are my top 6 real-life money lessons from this timeless board game:

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Start saving early

When playing Monopoly, if you don’t begin investing early, you’ll be forced out of the game sooner rather than later. Why? Because the bulk of your cash will be spent paying out rent to those smart enough to buy property early on.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Start investing as soon as possible

With the burden of student loan debt, high living costs and wages that aren’t keeping pace, you may think it’s impossible to start investing now. But, here’s the truth: even stashing away a few dollars a week will add up to a nice nest egg over time – due to the magic of compound interest.

What’s compound interest? This is when interest accumulates on the interest you’ve already earned on your money. So, investing now in your future self will result in greater wealth down the line.

Let’s take a look at a quick example of this with a “$250 a month strategy,” which assumes an 8% average annual investment return. Take a look at how an investment of $250 a month would grow, starting at the following ages:

  • Age 25: You’ll accumulate $878,570 by age 65
  • Age 35: You’ll accumulate $375,073 by age 65
  • Age 45: You’ll accumulate $148,236 by age 65

Your next question may be: But what if I don’t have any money to begin investing right now? That’s ok! As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” As a first step, check to see if your employer sponsors a 401(k) retirement plan with a matching contribution. Once you find out the percentage your employer will match, ensure that you contribute at least that amount (otherwise, you’ll be throwing away free money).

Next, let technology help you automate the process of growing your money! Apps like Acorns are perfect for first-time investors who may not have a ton of extra money. By automating, you can invest even your spare change into well-diversified portfolios.

Don't pull all your eggs in one basket

You won’t win a game of Monopoly if you only invest in a single property, even if you load it up with all the cute little green houses that (fake) money can buy. The best game players purchase multiple properties, preferably at least one from each color group. This increases the chances of collecting rent across the board.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Diversify your assets

If you’re new to investing, it might be difficult to properly diversify your portfolio across different asset classes. However, there are ways to get started. For example, perhaps you can consider investing in mutual funds, which offer diversification benefits because they hold dozens or even hundreds of investments. Overall, when it comes to investing, it’s important to do your own research. At the same time, there’s no shame in asking for help from a financial expert or even a friend well-versed in financial matters. You can search for a fee-based financial advisor here.

Plan for the unexpected

Even though it’s important to start buying properties as soon as possible in the game, you still need to have a cash buffer when unexpected expenses pop up. As soon as I get my money from the banker at the beginning of the game, I stash $300 under my side of the board. This comes in handy whenever I have to pay taxes or rent to another player later on.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Always have a rainy day fund

We all need to have extra funds available for emergencies like medical expenses, car trouble or home repairs. One of the easiest ways to build up your emergency fund quickly is to automate your savings. Chime makes it easy for you do this by helping you to save as soon as you get paid. If you open a Chime Checking Account and select Automatic Savings, Chime will automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck directly into your savings account¹.

Generate passive income

In Monopoly, nothing is sweeter than owning a hotel. Why? Hotel ownership is a winning strategy because it means you can charge the highest rent when someone lands on one of your squares.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Start earning passive income while you sleep

We all have skills and talents that can be packaged into a product that generates passive income. For example, perhaps you can create an online course and sell it or start a YouTube channel chronicling your fitness journey. Maybe you can even rent out a room in your apartment or house.

Practice discipline

Although we discussed the importance of buying properties, this doesn’t mean you should purchase every single property you land on. Being thoughtful and strategic with your hard-earned Monopoly money will go a long way if you want to be the last player standing.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Go on a fiscal fast

If you’ve been overspending lately, then it might be time for a fiscal fast. This is like going on a diet, but for your finances. The idea of a fiscal fast is to completely eliminate all non-essential spending – like coffee runs – for a specific period of time, such as seven days. The key to success is to transfer all the money you would have spent during the weekend or month into a savings account. I’ve done seven fiscal fasts in the past year and a half. Each time I’ve saved between $250 and $300. This helped me get rid of my credit card debt a lot quicker.

Negotiate like a pro

If you’re a Monopoly geek like me then you know that sometimes you have to trade property just to stay in the game. And, depending on who the other players are, you may have to step up your negotiation skills in order to make a mutually beneficial deal.

Real-Life Money Lesson: Use your negotiating skills to ask for a higher salary

You may be uncomfortable asking for a raise because you don’t want to come across as being too pushy. Or, perhaps you don’t want to face being turned down. In fact, only 37 percent of millennials have ever asked for a raise, according to PayScale.

But, did you know that the odds of receiving a pay upgrade are actually in your favor? A 2015 study published in Time Magazine showed that 44 percent of people who asked for a raise got the amount they wanted, while 31 percent got less than they asked for. This means that three out of four people who asked for a raise actually got it!

Final thoughts

Although you never really know what “chance” card life may deal you, it’s important to face your money obstacles head on. And, armed with these money lessons from Monopoly, you’ll learn some key tools to effectively handle your finances, navigate money challenges, and hopefully come out a winner!

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