While reading the number one personal finance book of all time Rich Dad Poor Dad, I came across this game CASHFLOW created by the author of the book, Robert Kiyosaki.
It is an educational game that resembles Monopoly, where players roll a dice and progress in cycles after cycles in the same place called the “rat race”.
The aim of the game is to get out of the rat race and achieve the dream that the player has selected at the start of the game, sounds pretty much like our lives don’t it?
Since it was designed to be an educational game, what are some of the learning points for us to take away from this game?
1. Pay off debts ASAP
In the game, our monthly take home amount is our pay minus our expenses, and interest expense reduces our income. The game highlighted the importance of paying off our debts asap.
Otherwise, the exorbitant monthly interest payment will be a huge financial drag for us.
2. Generate alternative income sources
As the legendary investor Warren Buffett cautioned, we should “never rely on a single source of income”.
Well, just consider what will happen if you were to become unemployed amidst an economic downturn, what will you do?
Furthermore, how long will it take you to achieve financial independence – working as and when you feel like instead of working because you need the pay?
This concept is demonstrated clearly in the game. Players are given a chance to invest in small or big deals at varying price levels, much like how investors trade in the stock market.
To get out of the “rat race”, players have to achieve a passive income that exceeds their current monthly expense.
Their monthly expense can increase with additional debt incurred or when a child is added to the family, simulating real life circumstances that players can easily relate to.
Upon playing the game, I learned a trick or two.
For example, I experienced firsthand how rewarding it is to buy assets with a high cash inflow at a reasonable price because it will provide me with a constant stream of additional income to cover my expenses.
I also understood the importance of having a war chest – money set aside for investment, such that I can pounce on the great deals offered by Mr Market when he is irrationally depressed.
Of course, patience is a virtue and sometimes passing on certain opportunities was better for my cash flow. Getting into debt to invest is just a big NO-NO.
3. Buy assets, not liabilities
In “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, Kiyosaki emphasised the importance of knowing what you are buying. He even went a step further and said the only rule that we should understand is that we should be buying assets, not liabilities.
The simplest definition given by him to differentiate the two is that “assets put money in [your] pocket” and “liability takes money out of [your] pocket”.
By that definition, we can understand why Kiyosaki’s rich dad saw his house as a liability instead of an asset since it will continue to take money out of his pocket until the loan is fully paid.
Furthermore, even when the loan has been completely financed, there will not be a cash inflow from the house except if they rented it out or sold it.
In the game, I avoided “assets” that did not bring in any cash inflow since I wanted to be rewarded with income even as I wait for an opportune time to sell it.
The value of financial independence
I think one of the most precious things I learned is that financial independence is not just about early retirement. It is really about achieving a much healthier and happier mindset without being gripped by fear of financial insufficiency.
In the book, Kiyosaki described many people as being stuck in “the pattern of getting up, going to work, paying bills, getting up, going to work, paying bills… Their lives are then run forever by two emotions, fear and greed.”
In my words, I’ll describe these people as the walking dead — alive on the outside but dead on the inside as they go through the motions of life only to survive.
The brilliance of the game is that it mimics reality so well. It was very easy to get lost in the game after rounds and rounds of bad luck which skyrocketed my debts.
I went through the motion struggling to meet my monthly expenses and interest payment. Indeed, I was going through each round only hoping to reach payday and pay off my monthly expenses.
I avoided looking at how much outstanding debt I had. In some way, I was part of the walking dead.
Thankfully this was just a game, and I wasn’t facing a personal financial crisis. However, I knew very well that this could happen to me if I do not set aside an emergency fund for rainy days.
The peace of mind of being debt-free is priceless.
I thought that the book was an easy read with valuable lessons for its readers. If you are not a fan of books, the game is quite entertaining and is a good starting point.
More importantly, the game can be the first step you take to improve your financial literacy and be exposed to the idea of investing. Furthermore, the game also teaches us the importance to manage our cash flow and the necessity of being financially prudent.
If you want to be introduced to the field of investment, why not play this simple game and learn a trick or two?