Monopoly – A Life Lesson

So, my daughter is away at college. This means my wife and I were home alone this past Friday night. It was as if we were transported to a time that we could barely remember. When we were teenagers full of enthusiasm and assertive ideas.

This time to ourselves provided newfound freedom. We decided to take full advantage of it. To change up our routine.

Risky, I know. We played Monopoly.

The last time I broke out that board game must have been as a junior in high school. That was over 30 years ago.

In need of a refresher of the rules, we read the instructions from beginning to end. The rules are challenging. But you should read them and put them into practice in life. You will likely achieve a level of success you never anticipated.

First, and most important, even before the game officially begins, you have money. $1,500 to be precise.

What a lesson learned. Do we do that with our kids? “Hey, junior, here’s one-point-five-grand.”

Sort of.

Many of us invest thousands of our hard-earned dollars into this vacuous entity called “college.”

But does college actually give our kids the kick-start they need? Some – rightfully so – argue that higher education has become too expensive and too commercial, where the concerns are less upon providing value to future employers and economic progress and more to the bottom line of the institution.

No, that might not be the right investment. Especially if you, the parent, are making that choice for your progeny. Maybe just give them the $1,500 at 18 and say, “You’re now an adult. I love you. Make it happen.”

I’m not saying don’t save for your child’s future. I am saying invest wisely. Maybe the lesson learned from the Monopoly rules is to take care of your kids and give them, as best you can, something to start from.

Ownership. What a phenomenal and underutilized notion. Every time you buy a property in Monopoly, you get financial benefits when someone lands on it in the form of a rent payment. Property is the ultimate form of passive income. It will either increase in equity or you can charge people to occupy it for you.

Far too many of us choose to be owned v. own. Renting serves its purpose, but it is ownership that provides long term wealth.

Some Monopoly rules, frankly, suck. “Go to Jail,” “Pass Go” and “Pay Luxury Tax.” Only a socialist could have come up with these rules for the game.
Roll the dice and land somewhere you shouldn’t be? You’re sidelined into a penitentiary. Roll the dice and actually make it around the board? “Congratulations, and here’s free money.” Roll the dice and land on another punitive square? You’re paying the government $75 for the privilege.

Why on earth should a roll of the dice determine our outcome?

Monopoly, sometimes, is a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma.

Sure, the roll of the dice determines where you land. But the flip side is whether you have the moxie to invest and own. Do you have the resources to succeed? Do you have the guts to buy and build?

America was built on doing things with risk and passion, not on passivity and regression.

Monopoly is a game well worth revisiting if you haven’t played in awhile.

At least you’re spending some time away from the screens with your love on a Friday night. But maybe try not to overthink it.


This column also appears in The Princess Anne Independent News