I bought the Cashflow board game some time late in 2001 and received it just before the holiday break. I immediately took it on vacation and spent a considerable amount of time to play it with my wife, 2 sons and daughter (aged 16, 13 and 10 at that time). During that specific holiday I probably played the game about 8 or 9 times.
Until today, one of our family habits is to play the Cashflow board game during our Christmas holiday.
The game comes in a fairly large, heavy and very colorful box. Unlike most similar games, the Cashflow game board folds in quarters compared to halves of most other games. This immediately makes for a reasonably large game board if unfolded.
The game comes complete with colorful game board, small calculator, pencils, tokens, play money, game cards, dice, a blank financial statement pad and profession cards. You really don't need anything else.
The Cashflow board game consists of 2 main play areas. The first play area is the circular track… which is aptly called the "Rat Race". Only once you've managed to build enough passive income to exceed your total monthly expenses through various transactions can you go onto the outer Fast Track play area.
The primary aim of the game is to accumulate enough passive income so that it eventually exceeds your normal day-to-day living expenses. Of course, if you can do this in real life, you do not have to work.
The one area where this game is really unique is to teach performing actual income and balance sheet statements to determine where exactly you stand financially. Most folks have no idea whatsoever how this works… and how important this really is in real life.
Strange thing is… even my kids could do it after playing a few games.
One of the very interesting approaches of the Cashflow board game is the selection of an imaginary profession with corresponding income and expenses.
By the way, although you can argue the exact numbers of the various professions' incomes and expenses, there is little doubt that the overall trend is extremely realistic and definitely reflects what you see out in the streets.
It also didn't take my children very long to realize that the doctor or pilot with such high incomes and expenses finds it quite difficult to get out of the Rat Race. In fact, one of them is always excited if they draw the janitor, nurse or truck driver with the lower income and expenses.
Our family found that one of these professions often have a much better chance of quickly getting out of the Rat Race than, say, the engineer.
What I particularly like about the game is the use of the player to your right to act as your accountant… to check and help you complete the financial statements. This is especially useful when you're not very quick with numbers.
It also simulates the real life situation of getting outside help and not trying to do everything yourself.
We all experience the ups and downs of everyday life… monthly paycheques, expenses, great things to buy, sudden unforeseen expenses, the inevitable crises and often unnoticed opportunities.
I can honestly say that only once I played the game a few times did I apply the same principles in real life. It was then I started noticing the great opportunities around me…
I'll tell you a little later what exactly happened when I started to apply the Cashflow principles.
Initially each player's primary income is via their monthly paycheque… which is determined by the profession card drawn at the start of the game. As you get to understand your own finances as well as the impacts of the markets around you, you start to buy and sell assets with the main aim of building and increasing your passive income. This exactly models normal everyday life.
As your passive income increases while you're still getting a paycheque, you obviously have more 'surplus' money. That's one area the Cashflow board game teaches brilliantly… to reinvest for passive income rather than to spend on nice-to-haves.
Although the game's passive income opportunities focus primarily on property, stocks and offline businesses, I found that in real life, online business opportunities actually make the real life situation better than the game. And the Cashflow board game (Cashflow 101) does not include such business opportunities. But keep in mind that the game was developed before the real boom in the Internet business market.
What this simply means is that in reality it is easier to get out of the Rat Race than the game suggests.
Probably the most important lessons our family learned were:
There are always good business opportunities around you… even in a down market. But it's probably a lack of focus, knowledge and experience preventing each one of us from seeing and acting on such opportunities. Fortunately this is a skill you can easily learn and develop, especially by playing the Cashflow board game.
Today I know that the game teaches a money-mindset that is really necessary to get out of the Rat Race. I also know that it's possible for anyone to get out of the Rat Race without doing stupid things or take unnecessary risks… once you know how the basic money principles work.
Today I'm convinced that the game sufficiently supported my changed thinking about money matters to really get out of the Rat race around July 2009… in just less than 8 years. Some would say I was lucky, but I doubt that.
During that time my kids also bought their own first rental property. Of course, from then onwards things became financially easier and much less stressed (as simulated by playing the game in the Fast Track).
I also view the game as one of the very best aids to teach kids and adults the basics of money and becoming very skilled at money matters and ultimately building wealth.
For more on the Cashflow board game... click here.