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Monday, 23 May 2011

Cashflow 101 - a great game for the price

I've never been a great fan of Robert Kiyosaki, aside from some of the advice presented in "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" seeming a bit dubious, I find it a bit "rich" for someone who, by their own admission, was a serial-failure at business and investing until his late 40s, to claim to be an expert on investing and finance. (Especially as I'm not sure how well his "borrow heavily and invest in real estate" strategy has played out since the GFC and US real estate crash). However, when I saw a mint-condition set of the board game "Cashflow 101" being thrown out I was interested enough to check out the contents (everything present and correct - only a couple of the playing sheets had been filled in. Obviously the original owners of this game didn't play it more than once or twice).

After all, aside from "Monopoly" there aren't too many payable games that are related to investing and personal finance. And ever since I found out that my old copy of the PC game "Jones in the fast lane" wouldn't run on any of our current crop of home computers, I've been keeping an eye out for a suitable family game that might teach the kids something about personal finance and investing - and still be enjoyable to play.

We played our first game of "Cashflow 101" today - DS2 had been pestering me to play if since I brought the game home last week and he saw the cute mouse on the cover and the mice and cheese playing tokens and piles of play money. The game rules are quite involved once you get going - and every time for buy or sell investments you have to adjust a whole lot of figures on the playing sheets. But the boys enjoyed playing, and liked getting money every couple of turns when they landed on a "pay day" square. Their groans every time they landed on a "doo-dads" square and had to spend "hard-earned" cash on a stereo or a new set of tyres makes me think the game might even be a little-bit educational (aside from the copious amounts of mental arithmetic practice updating their "accounts" sheet each turn.

Some of the game-play features are understandably less than realistic (it would be too hard to vary the frequency of getting laid off work based on the "career" of each player - but having a teacher, an engineer and a lawyer all loosing the jobs with the same regularity didn't seem very realistic). The stock market trades also seem very biased towards highly speculative "trading" rather than a diversified, dividend producing share market portfolio. But the main gripes I have with the game playing it only once are a) it takes way longer to play than indicated - we spent around 5 hours playing it before giving up when the first player made it into the "fast lane", and b) some of the rules seem unclear eg. when you buy a house that has a positive cashflow, do you simply add the positive amount to your total cashflow? or do you add the positive cashflow and also have to deduct the 10% interest charged on the mortgage?

However, overall the game was quite a lot of fun to play, and provided there is some intelligent discussion of the investments and financial decisions being made (eg. don't invest in 6% CDs when you still have an outstanding credit card debt costing 10% per month!) it can also be an "educational" play activity for the kids to participate in with their parents. I wouldn't rush out to buy the game for $80 or so from amazon.com, but for $0 it was a bargain.

For our next game I'll be sticking a set of the blank "financial statements" into clear sleeves so we can write the figures using white-board markers for easy updating.

ps. If you're tempted to pay good money for this game, I'd recommend looking into the e-version, as the manual updating of the financial statements is the most boring, error-prone and time-wasting "feature" of the game.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a note that "Jones in the Fast Lane" can be run in ScummVM, or DosBox (Dfend Reloaded), by the way-- look into it. In addition, someone made a remake of it in Flash. That aside, I do like the electronic version of Cashflow, for the most part. It's quite fun, though I wish there were more options.