I was about 8 the first time I played Monopoly. My friend Stacey laid out the board and I watched how everybody fought to be the banker… and then everybody fought to get the token they wanted. I was just thrilled to get free money. Wouhou!
And so, I rolled the dice and made my way around the board, (darn old shoe) picking up cards, passing go, getting stuck in jail and getting out again… What a boring game; I thought. So this went on for a (long) while and by the end of the game I had a little pile of money and 0 (read, no) properties.
I remember looking around the table, my chest swelling, and thinking I was the best player since I seemed to have more money than everyone else. Oh shure, they had properties… Ha! But they were broke. Keep in mind that we didn’t even know what those little plastic red and green things were for… (cut us some slack… we were a bunch of 7-8 year olds)
I also remember feeling really, really, REALLY frustrated when I had to pay to get out of jail or for some other rotten card. Awww No fair… ! No wonder I got bored with the game pretty quickly. Barbies anyone?
I refused to play for the longest time… then I said: Ok. I’ll play if I’m the banker. I remember feeling important and I was happy to be handing out money and having an even bigger pile of cash in front of me. I guess I didn’t even really realize that the Bank’s money wasn’t my own personal wealth… (Kinda like I viewed credit I guess)
Fast forward about 25 years. Last Christmas, my rather shy and quiet brother in-law suggests we play a game before dinner. Let’s play Monopoly he says. Uggh… I thought as I sat down to play. Ok. But I’ll be the banker. (hehehe)
Watching my brother in-law Dave play Monopoly was a real eye opener for me. For one thing, the brainy quiet intellectual became a competitive, confident and unbelieveably good strategist and negociator. Who knew???
As I watched him play, I finally understood how the game was meant to be played. As I went around the board, still not buying anything for the first few times around… (sigh…) I watched him buy every single property he landed on.
While I slowly went around and collected my measly income in the hopes of having a nice pile of cash in front of me, he was running on empty but he owned a ton of properties and he was beginning to acquire the properties owned by the other players. Furthermore, as soon as he would earn a little money, he bought houses, hotels and more hotels … I was starting to wonder if he was Mr. Hilton’s long lost son!
As it turns out, there was method to his madness.
Needless to say, I was the first one to file for bankrupcy… and he raked it in every time people landed on his properties.
Of course he won the game and laughed triumphantly as he counted his bounty. (Eeeexcellent Smithers… he said as he brought his fingertips together… Very fitting as it was a Simpsons Monopoly Game)
I truly had an A-Ha! moment on that fateful night of Monopoly mahem. I realized I treat real money the same way I treat my Monopoly money. Needless to say, it was not a good, solid relationship and I figured it was time to start treating my money with more respect.
On that night, I learned that :
- I didn’t know the rules of the game when it comes to money. (I’m learning)
- I preferred having a small pile of money in front of me rather than spending it on a sound investment. (still like seeing money in the bank even though I carry a debt)
- I was not much of a risk taker. (At least not financially)
- I was not much of a negociator because I would make deals that were a “win” for my sister in law (read : give away) because I really like her (and wanted her to wipe the smugness off of Dave’s face… hehehe)
- I didn’t take it (the game) seriously and had no real strategy for winning. (Same with my personal finances)
- I liked giving it out… playing the banker made me feel like I was helping the other players. (my Mother Teresa Side)
- My game strategy, or lack thereof, only brought me stress as I had to constantly pay out and I only made a few dollars on the crappy properties I had been willing to buy later in the game.
- I was out of the game almost before it started and I’m sure if there had been a Monopoly Visa card, I would have applied for it and racked up some heavy debt to pay off Dave and his evil hotel empire on those expensive properties.
I see the game in a new light now…. and although I have no ambition of building a real-life monopoly of any sort, (I believe there is more than enough to go around) I have more fun playing with my money now… both on, and off the Monopoly board.
Oh and Dave, if you read this… be afraid… I’ve learned my Monopoly lessons and have done my research (mou ha ha haaaa!) You will have a worthy opponent next year before Christmas Dinner.