Perspectives

How to Score a Winning Game Plan for Your Money Goals

chess-pieces-against-window

I’m one of a growing number of people that have fallen back in love with board games. I especially find the strategic game play exciting and mentally rewarding. Games can teach us lessons about patience and planning. And that strategic approach comes in handy in all kinds of real world situations, including “financial planning”:/banking/investments/financial-planning. Even if you aren’t excited by an evening of dice and fake money, taking some time to plan your finances is necessary. A thoughtful approach to money, especially putting a budget or game-plan together, can get you to your goals.

A game most people have played (but it seems like few people truly enjoy, myself included) is Monopoly. We can draw all sorts of applicable financial lessons from this game. For example, most games come down to resource management. The most obvious resource in Monopoly (and financial planning) is money. ‘What money do I have in hand right now? When can I expect to get more money (from Go! or rent)?’ All planning starts here with an assessment of our resources. To start with budgeting, we need to figure out how much money we have, what we anticipate from our income and when we expect it (monthly/weekly/etc.)

Once we know what we’re working with, we can consider how best to use it. For wise game players, it comes down to strategic choices: ‘Would I be better off buying a cheap property now or waiting for the more costly ones later?’ ‘Should I keep some aside to resolve potential problems?’ Budgeting in the real world is the same. ‘Deciding whether to buy a big car that will allow me to haul more, or a small car that gets better gas mileage is a strategic choice and neither is right or wrong as long as we put thought into it. Planning ahead for higher electric bills in the summer instead of splurging on wants that could be bought later is the kind of decision making that keeps us on track.

Another resource we have is time. Monopoly can be frustrating, and often at some point during the game I want to give up. Just flip the board and walk away. Filing income taxes make me feel the same way. When it comes to taxes though, I worry that walking away won’t just have friends thinking I’m a poor sport. So, I take breaks, let my mind refresh, and come back until it’s done. Other financial planning can be done the same way. Building a budget may not be done in thirty minutes to an hour. You may need to work on it, take a break, or even come back to it the next day.

Having that good financial plan in place can help you win more than a low-stakes friendly game.
Using that budget to guide your spending and to track where your money is going can get you to real world goals, like a comfortable retirement, money to take vacations, or building savings for large purchases like a car or home. After all, when it comes to a budget and financial planning, it’s not you against a friend or a rival. It’s you today versus you tomorrow working to reach your personal goals.
What would it look like if you took the next step and began to dive deeper into your financial goals? We offer a software program called Budget$mart that is a free service provided to all Vantage Credit Union members via GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Try it today and let us know what you think.