Monopoly Does Not Equal Financial Education

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Monopoly=Financial Education?

Really? Monopoly?

Monopoly is one board game that seems to have been around forever. In fact, its origins were in the 20th century and it took on much of its present form by 1934. It has amused countless numbers of children and adults on long snowy winter’s days. I can fondly recall some very animated and emotionally charged games from my youth that would span several days. We played by very simple rules making winning (or losing) the game a glacial process.

While there is no argument that Monopoly provides entertainment at a variety of levels, does it actually provide any useful and relevant financial education? In most school curriculums today, there is no place for much in the way of in-depth financial education, so perhaps children can learn through playing Monopoly with their parents, sibling and peers.


Monopoly does have some good information that is of real value. The winner is the person that becomes the wealthiest through the buying, trading, renting and selling of property, so that is very similar to some parts of real life. And at least it gives kids an awareness of things like mortgages, bankruptcy, property ownership, prudent money management and taxes. Those are things that they aren’t likely to get that awareness from most video games or television programs.

Despite those positives, Monopoly doesn’t offer much in the way of real-life situations or procedures. Taxes and some incomes in Monopoly are derived through sheer chance, and while there are those who describe the vagaries of government taxation the same way, in reality there is generally a correlation between income and taxation that is not determined through the roll of the dice.

The fixed pricing policy that is part of the game is more akin to socialism than the capitalism that Monopoly is supposed to represent. Having property values set by the ‘bank’, or any other governing body, is definitely not a reflection of reality. One aspect of the game that does represent reality is the trading that is permitted on unimproved properties, utilities and railroads without restriction as to value.

Properties are usually purchased from another person or a company, not from a bank, with the exception of foreclosed or short sale properties. Buying property with cash (as in Monopoly), is usually only possible in the domain of the very rich or those involved in the drug trade. Ironically, mortgages are only used when the player is in financial trouble, rather than as a normal part of property purchase.

Property Rights Are Unusual

When you buy an unimproved property, a house, or a hotel in Monopoly, you buy it from the bank. In real life, only foreclosed properties are purchased from banks; properties are usually transferred between individual owners. There are also no restrictions in real life that prohibit you from improving your property until you own all of them in that color. However, there are bylaws, neighbourhood restrictions and home-owner associations that can restrict what and where you build.

Income Is Based on Luck, Not Skill

In Monopoly, earning income is very simplified, you receive a $200 salary every time you pass Go. But how often you pass Go depends on how lucky you are with the dice, and which Chance and Community Chest cards you draw that help you move around the board. There is a fair bit of luck involved in being able to acquire the properties that you need to complete a colored set or all of the railroads. It’s still possible to trade for them, but that won’t be as cost efficient as landing on them yourself. Although Monopoly attempts to portray the whimsical nature of real life with the randomness of chance and community cards, they aren’t drawn often enough by all players for it to be anything other than good or bad luck that determines how the card impacts your net worth.  

In real life, the amount of money you earn is primarily based on skill development and hard work. Very few people receive income based on sheer luck. If there were more people, they could sell even more lottery tickets.

Wealth Is a Zero-Sum Game

In Monopoly, the last player remaining after all the others go bankrupt is the game winner. This approach implies that wealth accumulation is a zero-sum game. Under this scenario, only one person can achieve ultimate financial success, and only at the expense of everyone else.

In reality, there is no limit to the amount of wealth that can be created in a capitalist society where government regulation is minimal, and restricted to only essential purposes. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates don’t have to lose money in order for me to make some. Even if I make billions and billions.

Can Monopoly be useful as fun way to introduce some significant wealth creation ideas? Yes it can, with some provisos. Just don’t count on it to be the one and only way that you look at financial literacy. You’re bound to be disappointed.

Till Next Time….

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Sigrid McNab

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About Sigrid McNab

Sigrid McNab is the author of #1 Amazon Best Seller, speaker and the CEO and Founder of Sigrid specializes in blogging, attraction marketing, and generating highly qualified leads. Sigrid teaches people how to build a successful online business.

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