It’s a funny thing. I have known Monopoly since I was a young kid. I enjoyed it, yes, and tried hard to get playmates to play with me but we usually get bored early in the game so we end up, always, not finishing it. We did not even care who won. But I did not know it could have such an impact on me. It was just a board game, after all, and board games do not really teach skills. Apparently, this one does, and I learned to look at Monopoly – and games – in a new light.
Fast forward to 20 years after. I read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Kiyosaki said in that book that one can learn the basics of finance with Monopoly, such as “trade four green houses for one red hotel.” I could not believe my eyes as I was reading, I know this game! I immediately downloaded it to my Treo and played, and played, and played.
At home, at night, at traffic when my car is at a standstill – every chance I got, I played. And then, finally, I got it.
In Monopoly, the objective is to buy as many properties as you can, when you can. I don’t know about you but that was not too obvious to me when I was a kid. I thought I get to choose and budget and select only the properties I like, which, of course, were the expensive ones, like Boardwalk and Park Place. But it seems everything is fair game, even the $60 dollar properties. It is a scorched earth policy – everything you land on, you put an imprint on. Daring is the most interesting skill that always made me win. So I buy everything. I take advantage of every opportunity, even if I had to beg, steal or borrow, er, sell, auction, trade or loan. The main goal of all that buying is to get (1) passive income, cash flow from those who land on your property and pay rent, and (2) income from those who are desperate and need your property (remember, only when a player owns all the properties in a colour-group can they build houses, which would increase the rent) – you can give in, or hold on. Holding on is usually the better strategy. It makes perfect sense – the more you keep other players from completing a color-group, the more they won’t be able to build their empires; the more properties you have all over the place, the more the chance that the other players will trip and land on one. The bigger the structure you have on a property, say a hotel, the bigger your pot gets. Oh, and that always gets them. Game over.
A lot of it too is money management, negotiation and resource management – do you sell, do you auction, do you wait for the big payout before you buy, how many steps before salvation which would read, “Go. Collect $200 salary as you pass”? Yes, it is also a game of chance. Things may be decided by the flicker of the dice – if you are on property that is available, if you are going to prison, if you are going to pay rent, if you can already build houses or hotels, if you get bankrupt. But that is maybe just 2% of the game.
Come to think of it, there is wisdom in this. There is so much you can do with real estate – build on it, lease it, sell it, trade it. The landed in this country, the ones whose ancestors needed only to flick their pointing finger from point A to point B and everything within reach of their gaze is theirs, are still the ones with the most money. It remains true – if you have lots of land, you are already ahead. And you remain ahead.
After playing Monopoly several more times, I play Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Game at a Think Rich Pinoy Seminar and oddly (or not), D and I won first place. D was bored at first, then got really excited. He knew about my Monopoly training but he did not know it can translate to winning. And he loved winning.
I troop over to my friend Jay’s website ForeclosurePhilippines.com and see what properties I can get my hands on.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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