With the pandemic still sadly with us, we have been locked up for over a year now in our homes and for many families, boredom is a problem. Bored or board ? Board games down the years have helped to both educate, entertain and create fun. One of those fun board games is one where you can both learn all about finance and potentially earn – Monopoly… Some say finance is boring. I say the only boring thing about money is not having enough of it ! John Lowe of MoneyDoctors.ie explains…

You probably played Monopoly either as a child or with your own children. It’s been a popular board game for more than 118 years. It is now known Monopoly’s origins stem from the 1903 Landlord game by Elizabeth – Lizzie – J. Phillips (née Magie; 1866–1948), and not fully ‘invented’ by Charles Darrow who is most commonly awarded with its creation.

However, it was Darrow who gave it the visual appeal and believed in the game to market it across the nation after the large game companies rejected its worth. Based on the actual streets of Atlantic City New Jersey, Darrow eventually sold his game to the Parker brothers (George and Charles) in 1935 who purchased Darrow’s remaining inventory of around 7500 games and sold them almost immediately.  The 1935 Christmas season came in with selling around 250,000 games total.  Demand did not stop there, and the following year, in 1936, Parker Brothers sold over 1 million games of Monopoly.

So how can you learn personal finance from this board game ?

Firstly, there is a banker or auctioneer. He or she handles the money as they do in real life. The banker handles auctions, again just as a bank would in real life. The banker holds title deeds, pays out salaries and bonuses, sells houses and hotels to the players and when required loans money on mortgages. He or she collects all fines, taxes, loans and interest and these people are as important and effective as in real life.

Secondly, the object of the game is the similar to the dreams, goals and ambitions most people want in life, which is to become wealthy and happy. And the way you create wealth is by making smart investments. What Monopoly teaches is that it’s important to buy the right properties and in our own lives it is important to make good investments.

Another lesson to be learned from Monopoly is that it’s best to diversify – the buzz word when it comes to spreading your risk – or to buy properties that have different values. You shouldn’t buy only the most expensive Monopoly properties such as Shrewsbury Road or Ailesbury Road as this would limit your ability to collect rents and ultimately to buy houses and hotels. In real life, you shouldn’t invest only in high-yield government bonds or select managed funds as this could limit your ability to have a variety of different investments to protect yourself from economic down turns. Last March the 26th BEAR (falling) market matched the 26th BULL (rising) market. Next one is BULL….

Luck also plays a part in Monopoly and in our lives. Sympathies to all those caught out in the recession 13 years ago… as Enda Kenny once said it’s not your fault –  but you trying telling the banks that ! The dice determines where your piece lands on the board, which governs the properties you can buy. Luck plays a part in the throw of the dice while it also extends to people who are born to wealthy parents and who may stand a better chance of being successful than people who are born in poverty.

You could do worse than to play the game and learn. Here are some interesting facts about Monopoly :

  • The Parker Brothers, have printed more money for their board game than the Federal Reserve has issued in real money for the United States plus if you stacked up all the Monopoly sets made, the pile would be more than 1,100 miles high ! They also print 30 times more Monopoly money every year than the United States prints real money.
  • The prize money for winning the Monopoly World Championship is $20,580 — the same amount of money there is in the game’s bank.
  • The most expensive Monopoly game is said to be worth $2million.  The value comes not from the historical nature of the board, but from the elements used to make the Monopoly game – the Monopoly dice of the game include cut diamonds to denote numbers. The pips are diamonds- all 42 of them.  The game board of 23 carat gold also boasts of sapphires and rubies atop the houses and hotels.  It was made in 1985 to celebrate Monopoly’s 50th anniversary
  • Fidel Castro banned Monopoly in Cuba.


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