This year my board game choice was Cashflow 101, produced by Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad fame. I have looked longingly at this game for the past two Christmases, but the price always made me turn away and purchase something else. I have no clue what games I did buy those two years, as no one played them, therefore making them bad investments. Cashflow 101, though, has proven to be an excellent investment, even with its hefty price tag. The only one who has not played it at least twice so far is Bill. My son-in-law has even taken to driving a four-hour round trip on his days off to play the game. I am not sure that is a good investment on his part, given the price of gas. But it was nice to see my four children (three children, one son-in-law) all around the dining room table playing at getting out of the rat race.
Escaping the rat race is the main goal of Cashflow 101. In order to accomplish this, the game forces you to begin thinking differently about your money. A big screen TV is not an asset, nor is a boat, not a true money-earning asset. By delaying purchasing things you want in the game and actually putting your money to work in a money-making asset, like a rental home or dividend paying stock, then you can begin to use the money your assets are earning you to finance those things you want to buy. The key is to see those moneymaking possibilities, to recognize them as opportunities rather than throwing up your hands and declaring that you cannot afford them.
Each person in the game begins with a career and an accompanying income and expense sheet. You quickly see that while some careers pay more, there are also more expenses (college loans, etc.) and it seems that those who make more always have higher expenses (bigger house, more toys, etc.). Having a child greatly increases your monthly expenses. Along the way you have the opportunity to buy stocks, invest in real estate, buy boats, give to charity, all real-life possibilities. In order to get out of the rat race you must grow your passive income (income earned from investments) to the point where it is higher than your expenses, thus allowing you to quit your day job.
Once you have played the game successfully a few times, escaped the rat race, then you are encouraged to make up your own “career” cards, using your current, present-day career and expenses. This enables you to see how you can actually implement the ideas of the game into your own life, using your own finances.
Not only is this a great game for beginning to view your finances in a more opportunistic way, but it is also a great game for honing your math skills. Each roll of the dice causes you to have to refigure your balance sheet, make decisions based upon ROI (return on investment), bank loan repayments, percentages, etc. Lots of math involved here!
Final analysis? Even though this game has a pretty hefty initial investment, it’s ROI appears to be very good. Only time will tell whether the game truly makes a difference in our financial lives. But its entertainment value is high and it is a great learning tool for reinforcing ones math skills. That makes it a better investment than many other games I have purchased in the past. I definitely recommend it for your family.