Relating the concept of financial independence (FI) to an activity a child understands is important. This is a letter to my son explaining how his video games are about money management and he doesn’t even know it.
Start FI like a Video Game
Dear Gamer Son,
It’s a typical weekday night and you’ve finished your homework. Your belly is full of roasted chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes. While I’m cleaning up the kitchen, you fire up your iPad and sit down in my chair. It wasn’t long before I heard you grumbling so I came over to see what you were fussing about.
You were playing Tower Madness and having a hard time completing a certain map. If you don’t remember, Tower Madness is a tower defense game where you strategically place your towers to protect the sheep from alien invaders. It’s a cutesy game, but quite challenging at the higher difficulties with their open map designs.
You were losing quite early on and asked for help. It dawned on me how similar the start of a Financial Independence journey is to the beginning of a tower defense mission. That first tower choice and placement on the map is critical to survive the initial waves. It provides the foundation to build the tower maze and saves resources by not requiring additional towers to cover the weakness of a poor initial choice.
Financial Independence works the same way. My reckless start to FI was akin to placing a laser turret at the alien drop point when the first wave contained numerous weak units. A flamethrower would have been a much better option!
The earlier you start making the right choices, the easier it will be to take out the aliens and build a powerful web of sheep guarding turrets. You will also conserve resources and stock pile money. This safety net will enable you to respond to life’s curveballs…like that rogue flying boss alien you didn’t plan for. You’ll have the ability to drop down the Anti-Air tower similarly to adjusting from the loss of a job or responding to a health issue.
Other Video Games types that are about Money Management
“There is a strong connection between the economic system we operate within and the economic systems embedded in game systems,” says Dr. William R. Watson, associate professor of learning design at Purdue University.
Tower Defense is only one of quite a few video game genres that can help you better understand the concept of FI. Base building and simulator games allow you manage an economy and build your own world, castle, army, business, zoo, roller coaster, etc… In many cases, you have already managed resources in a fictional setting.
Just look at your various Minecraft maps and the number of youtube videos you to watched before building that epic house. How many hours did you research the perfect starting character builds for that last role playing game you downloaded? In some of the recent mobile games we played together, how many times did we search for the best use of energy, coins, blue gems, green gems, diamonds, and those purple swirly tickets.
Many of today’s mobile games have you deciding what to spend the near endless amount of resource pools on. I see you often struggle to decide and end up doing your homework before spending various in-game currencies. Need to make sure it’s worth it in the long run, right? You don’t want to end up spending your savings on a full suit of physical defense armor only to find out the next boss is an evil wizard that only uses magic.
Fear of making early mistakes in your video games should be brought to the real world and applied to how you manage your money. See… some video games are about money. Despite what Mom says, video games can teach you something useful.
Video Games that Teach Money Concepts
The 5 games I’d recommend that will help you develop your money management skills for FI.
The Sims – Create a virtual life where you manage real world issues, create houses, choose a career, balance income vs expenses, and build a social network.
Civilization – You’re essentially President or a country leader facing the burden of managing taxes, developing cities, maintaining population happiness, investing in research, managing relationships, and paying for military expeditions.
Total War – Much like Civilization, but with a more cinematic battle experience. You’ll need to build income producing assets to upkeep your armies and handle religious and political issues.
Monopoly – The atypical real estate board game that now has multiple digital versions to learn about income, investments, and dealing with elements of “chance.”
EVE Online – A massive multiplayer online game that includes exploring, manufacturing, trading, pirating, combat and has such a large emphasis on wealth that the game developers actually employ an economist.
The next time you have money in your wallet, I want you to do me a favor. Before you spend it, ask yourself if you invested as much time in what to do with it as you do with your gaming decisions.
Kylven Ross is the owner and primary contributor of theFIway.com. He has been married for 17 years and is father to a son and daughter living in New England. Professional accomplishments include a bachelor’s degree and industry certifications in the cyber sector. He has spent the last 18 years working in the U.S. Defense Industry and as a Military Police Officer.
He discovered the concept of Financial Independence (FI) during a rather stressful year in the compliance space. After fully absorbing the benefits of FI, he has since committed to turning his household’s finances in the right direction. His experiences are documented as a series of letters that are used to educate his children and others about money. He does not want the next generation to make the same mistakes, but rather achieve financial freedom and find happiness.
Kylven is not a financial advisor, tax expert, or investment professional. Investment and retirement planning activities should not be considered professional advice. Consult a licensed financial advisor for questions regarding your own situation.