Ten Life Lessons From Monopoly

When was the last time you had the chance to sit around and play an engaging game of Monopoly? If it’s been a while, you might want to pull it out again. Turns out it’s full of life lessons for players young and old. Here are 10 of them.

You get to choose how others see you

Do you remember your favorite token? Was it the race car or the thimble? Maybe it was the little Scottie dog, the battleship or the boot. Regardless, you got to choose how others saw you in the game. Life is much the same way; you get to choose how the world sees you, whether that’s as an adventurer, an artist, an entrepreneur or something else altogether.

You only get paid if you keep moving forward

It seems obvious that you only get paid if you continue playing the game, but this is true in life as well. You have to be continually working toward your next goal, the next commission or the next payday if you expect to earn money. The more times you go around the board, the more opportunities you have to increase your personal wealth, however you define it.

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing

One of the rules of Monopoly is, “If you throw doubles three times in succession, move your token immediately to the space marked ‘In Jail.’” It’s tempting to go for seconds or thirds in life, but moderation is key.  

Diversifying investments pays off

Buying houses and hotels in Monopoly yields income from other players in the form of rent. Some of the high-priced properties — Park Place and Boardwalk — mean a huge rent if someone lands on them, but the odds of landing on either are lower than on cheaper blocks with more properties. A few houses and hotels here and there across the board is usually the way to go.

Patience matters

Timing is everything in both Monopoly and life. Just because you land on an appealing property doesn’t mean that you should buy it, especially early in the game. This is true of life as well. We’re better served by exercising patience and some delayed gratification in both circumstances.

Mortgages are confusing

Ever bought a house in Monopoly? It’s about as confusing as navigating a real-life mortgage. According to the directions, an owner may sell a “mortgaged property to another player at any agreed price. If you are the new owner, you may lift the mortgage at once if you wish by paying off the mortgage plus 10% to the Bank. If the mortgage is not lifted at once, you must pay the Bank 10% interest when you buy the property and if you wish to lift the mortgage later you must pay the Bank an additional 10% interest as well as the amount of the mortgage.” 

I suppose it’s better than sifting through page after page of a real-life mortgage contract, but one thing remains the same — the bank is going to profit from your real estate purchase.

Hold money back for a rainy day

The last thing you want to do in Monopoly is spend more than you earn. You could land on someone’s property and owe them a pile of rent, or you could pull a Chance card and owe the bank a fee. It’s always good to judge the amount of money in your hand when it comes time to make a big purchase. The same is true in life: If you don’t have the cash, it’s best to wait.

The bank is all-powerful

Among Monopoly’s rules is this: “…the Bank holds the Title Deeds, and the houses and hotels prior to purchase by the players. The Bank pays salaries and bonuses. It sells and auctions properties and hands out the proper Title Deed cards when purchased by a player, it also sells houses and hotels to the players and loans money when required on mortgages.” 

Basically, the Bank is the economy’s guiding force in Monopoly. If you borrow for any reason and pay the money back monthly — and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?— then you know this is true in real life, too.

Expensive property isn’t always the best

You can lose the game if you don’t pay attention to both cost and cash flow, and some of the expensive properties, as tempting as they may be, can leave you broke before the game ends. They can cost a lot of money to maintain, and if your goal is to go big or go home in Monopoly or life, you might find yourself wishing you’d made a different decision.

Even if you play Monopoly solely for entertainment purposes, one thing’s for certain: You’ll learn a lot about yourself and the other players. You might even learn something about life.

Some things are just out of your control

“Chance” cards can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, but you don’t know which is which until you flip one of those little cards over. In life, unexpected things happen. Although we can be prepared and we can do our best to avoid undesirable circumstances in life, sometimes you get dragged back “three spaces.” Then again, you could always score a nice, unexpected dividend from the bank.

—Megan Winkler

Megan Winkler is an author, historian, Neurosculpting® meditation coach, certified nutritional consultant and DIY diva. When she’s not writing or teaching a class, Megan can be found in the water, on a yoga mat, learning a new instrument or singing karaoke. Her passion for a healthy mind-body-spirit relationship motivates her to explore all the natural world has to offer.



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