Gil C Schmidt: Play “Monopoly” For Your Financial Life

Gil C. Schmidt

Too many of us keep treating money like it’s not real.

Take “Monopoly,” the famous game of real estate buy and sell. It’s almost certainly the first thing we think of when the phrase “funny money” is mentioned. We even say “Monopoly money” for “fake” currencies or to describe how some people treat money like it’s just cheap pieces of colored paper, right?

Here’s the thing: Your level of financial literacy is directly tied to how serious and realistic your concept of money is. I do not mean that you treat money like an end-all and be-all. I mean that you have to learn to see money clearly for what it is: a multi-purpose tool that must be adapted to your needs and goals.

Notice my definition gives you three levels of control: your needs (that includes your wants, because your needs have to take precedence over your wants), your goals and ultimately, your money. That’s what financial literacy is all about.

Too many of us think that learning to be financially literate is too hard, too overwhelming to even attempt. So rather than start learning, we skip it altogether. But we actually know more than we think, and in fact, we are already on the path to financial literacy.

Now back to “Monopoly.” If you want to see how much you already know about financial literacy, then I suggest you play “Monopoly” with one simple change: use real money.

Now I don’t expect you to use $1,500 or even $150; I suggest you use $15.00 and adjust all prices, taxes and rents accordingly. In this version, buying Boardwalk wouldn’t cost $400 of “funny money,” but $4.00 of real money.

If you play the game until one player wins, you’ll find yourself automatically thinking about needs, wants and goals, because the game itself “frames” these and you make your choices according to your plans. For example, you may want Boardwalk and Park Place, but you need a red property for a monopoly advantage. Or you may want to build another set of houses on your monopoly and even need to (to stay competitive), but you’re too far from “Go” and have to pass major rents along the way, so maybe building will have to wait.

The purpose of using real money is not for you to gamble, but for you to realize that you already automatically do the basics of financial literacy. You balance needs and wants and control your money according to a plan. If you can do it in “Monopoly,” you can do it in real life…because you’re already in “the real game”: it’s your real money already in play.

Final thought: financial literacy is not some dull harness. It is fun and liberating, a truly powerful knowledge set that will change your life for the better. And if you can make progress in getting enthused and learning about it playing “Monopoly,” well, I did say it was fun, right?

Denise Smalls: Goodwill’s Money $ense

In partnership with United Way, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is proud to announce the Money $ense Program.  The program consists of a series of four FREE Financial Literacy classes to be offered once each week for four consecutive weeks.  Each week class builds on the previous week information.  The classes are two hours per week and the instructors are teaching this class in the community.  The classes are being conducted in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

The classes provide information on the following topics:

  • Banking Basics
  • Spending and Saving Plan
  • Tracking your Money
  • Credit/Debit

The class will also discuss Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), making better financial choices, how credit affects employment, credit cards, bank fees and grocery shopping among other subjects.

These classes use a different paradigm to teach finance to individuals.  We use Financial Socialwork which looks at the behavior, attitude, and habits of individuals.  We want to make people aware of how they have manage money in the past and whether the decisions they made were the best for their families and will assist them to achieve their future goals.  The instructors’ goal is to create sustainable, long-term financial behavioral change in the participants who attend the class

The model

  • Motivates men and women to choose to deal with money in a different way.
  • Teaches how to anticipate, prepare for and cope with setbacks and disappointments.
  • Provides the information and insight to make knowledge based choices and decisions.
  • Supports change with a clear “Change process”
  • Focuses on success with “Five Specific Steps to Success.”
  • Integrates validation, recognition and encouragement.
  • Incorporates a self-assessment process which contributes to growing sense of self, self-worth and self-confidence.
  • Expands self-awareness and personal growth as well as increasing financial knowledge.

The outcomes of the Money $ense Program are as follows:

  • Developing and using a Monthly Spending Plan
  • Opening and using a bank account
  • Establishing and/or achieving credit awareness

The program also includes the opportunity to participate in a one on one personal follow along for all your personal financial issues.

The Money $ense classes are interactive and engaging.  The clients are provided handouts, exercises and printed material on a variety of different areas.  We have engaging discussions with the clients on money management and while there are no right or wrong answers we want to make the individual think about the decisions they implement when it comes to their resources.

We invite all individuals to attend the class whether they are young or old, rich or poor, male or female because everyone could use help managing their money.

For more information on this initiative, please visit the Goodwill Community Service page. 

Enriching Your Financial Literacy (Fin Lit) Library

As a result of the increasing need for financial literacy education among Florida’s population, the Florida Literacy Coalition (FLC) will be conducting a FREE webinar detailing important financial literacy resources beginning at 12 p.m. (Eastern), Thursday, Jan. 27!  This fun and educational training event will include access to online and hard-copy resources, helpful financial literacy articles, and a tour of the most important websites.  Literacy tutors/teachers looking to expand their literacy libraries will not be disappointed!  This training will enable you to provide/create a diverse curriculum for all your students.

Macario (Mac) Garcia, one of FLC’s AmeriCorps* VISTA members, will be presenting this virtual training.  During his time at FLC, he has focused on financial literacy and web-based learning, and is coordinating a statewide initiative to expand financial literacy in adult education programs.  His professional background includes social work, and educational and financial counseling.

You can participate from the comfort of your home or office!  All you need is internet access and speakers. This training is free, but registration is required.  After registering, a confirmation email will be sent to you with additional details.

Is your program currently offering financial literacy classes?  If so, share your successes and challenges with us in the comment box below. Or share any of your thoughts related to financial literacy!