The GAME of LIFE: Twists & Turns

Do you remember the board game “LIFE”?  It is one of the oldest American board games, created by Milton Bradley in 1860 and republished in 1960. The modern game consist of a track where you spin the wheel, earn money, buy cars and houses, get married and at the end of the game comes a crucial decision: where to retire.  Each player can choose between Millionaire Estates or Countryside Estates (a very simple decision, of course) and if you happen to be the richest person to retire at either spot you have a chance to receive up to four additional “LIFE” tiles (potential money).  Then, all players repay their loans, add up their money and the one with the most wins!

I Googled “How to win the game of LIFE” and the answer below from Yahoo! was tagged as the best answer:  There isn’t really much strategy to the game of Life. Just make sure you go through college. Also buy a stock certificate early so that you can collect money every time a certain number is rolled. I usually don’t waste money on auto or home insurance, but if you are the type who is unlucky you might need it in case you land on the house fire or car accident. ALWAYS go to Millionaire Acres at the end of the game. Also, remember what salaries everyone has so if you land on “exchange salary” you can get the most for your money. 

So, pretty much go to college, buy stocks, don’t waste your money on insurance, keep tabs on other’s salaries and no matter what retire at Millionaire Acres.  How fulfilling does that sound?  NOT VERY!

OK, I am being a bit harsh.  In the end, it is just a board game.  But I am setting up the narrative for the most recent version of this called, “The Game of LIFE: Twists and Turns,” which our family purchased and played a few nights ago.  We really liked it!

In “The Game of LIFE: Twists and Turns” you experience one or all of four different paths: Learn It, Earn It, Love It, and Live It.  Much more representative of the real phases of life.  On each turn you insert your Visa Card into the Life Pod and you move the resulting number of spaces.  The main difference between this version and the original is that you have the ability to earn money and Life Points throughout the game.  Money is earned how you think it might be: salaries, investing, and of course, winning the lottery.  Life Points are earned through experiences, getting married, having kids and relationship encounters.  Below is an example card of what might happen on each turn.

You can spend as much or as little time in each area.  For me, I followed the conventional path of Learn It where I went to and paid for schooling, then Earn It where I made some money through job promotions, then Love it where I got married and had some kids, then I ran out of years.  My plan was to get to the Live It section to experience life once all was in order, but I didn’t have time.  Conversely, my wife Shari went straight to Love It where she got married and had four kids (not too unlike real life for us), then she went to Earn It where she received one promotion but continued on the rest of the game with a very modest salary and ended in Live It.

My bank account was large, I had a nice car and the medium-sized house ($500k).  Her bank account was modest, but every turn she gained Life Points for being married, having kids and encountering experiences throughout the game that I never did.

At the end, when all of the years had passed (we chose 15 years = 15 turns), the Life Pod converted our money and assets to Life Points.  We didn’t know the conversion rate, as it changes each game.  The winner was determined by the one with the most Life Points, not the most money!

You already know who won this “Game of Life”…the one who went after relationships, was content with her modest salary and lived life every step of the way.

The moral of the story here is to not forego your education, or feel condemned if you earn a healthy wage and have amassed many assets.  The moral is that at the end of it all, we won’t take any of our money and possessions with us.  It is relationships and experiences and love that are the greatest reward.  Money is part of that equation, of course, but it is not THE equation, or how you win.

Get this game.  It’s a good one and definitely a fun one.

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Since 1995, Pittenger & Anderson has guided individuals and families going through money-in-motion events. We are a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor and a full-time fiduciary providing investment management, financial planning, and complimentary services to 800+ clients in over 30 U.S. states.

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