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Building Wealth is like Playing a Video Game

When I was young, I was enamored with video games.  I enjoyed the challenge of trying to beat the computer, building my points balance, and finishing the game.  It started with games like the original Super Mario Brothers and Contra on the Nintendo game console (NES).  After mastering many games, a newer generation console was released, Super Nintendo or SNES.

At the time, SNES was leaps and bounds ahead of the original system.  With SNES came the newest version of Super Mario Brothers (Super Mario World).  After many-many hours of learning the game, the secret rooms, I finally finished the game and enjoying the journey throughout.

These days, apps and games are more about collecting coins/cash within a game so that you can “improve your inventory” like a new weapon or tool to further advance in the game.


So how does this relate to personal finance?  In so many ways.  To build wealth the old-fashioned way through saving and investing (the way that I’m doing it), requires many of the same elements of playing and mastering a video game.

Many people have a negative emotional attachment to money which can hold them back.

“We don’t have enough”

“I’ve worked hard for this money, so I can’t risk it on the stock market”

“The stock market is risky”

“Why save when I could be hit by a bus tomorrow?”

Heard all of these before? I know that I have.  If you can treat building wealth as more of a game where your financial net worth is a matter of how many points you have built, all of the sudden, checking your net worth on a regular basis becomes fun.  Come to think of it, I treat maximizing loyalty points the same way.

Along the way, you will learn the game, learn tips and secrets, and perhaps even finish the game to your satisfaction.

Even after achieving my initial net worth goal, I continue to treat my net worth and wealth building as a game.  I continue to use strategies to keep advancing to the next level, collecting as many points/cash along the way (saving), buying inventory to continue advancing (investing) and repeating until you reach the level that you imagine achieving.

Some tips on getting to the next level (wealth strategies):

Some tips on collecting points (saving strategies):

Some tips on building and growing your inventory (wealth building strategies):

Be lighter with your finances and you’ll be surprised on how much further you’ll get in the game.

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Miranda @ Casual Money Talk July 9, 2018, 10:30 am

    Great article! If only I could save/load back into my 20s, I’d start saving like mad. :)

  • Avatar Owen @ PlanEasy.ca July 9, 2018, 11:59 am

    I love a financial goal! It makes budgeting and saving money so much easier when you have something important to work towards.

    The latest financial metric I heard about was this idea of “days of FIRE”, basically how many days of the year your current nest egg will let you FIRE. For example, if you spend $2,500 per month then once you have $115,000 in investments you’re able to cover 56 days per year of FIRE. Even though you’re not 100% FIRE it’s still fun to know that you have 56 days per year that your expenses are covered by your investments.

  • Avatar King Lau July 9, 2018, 2:11 pm

    Super Mario Brothers 3 was on the NES and not SNES.

    The one on SNES was Super Mario World (the 4th one)

    • FT FT July 9, 2018, 2:17 pm

      Thanks King Lau, glad to see another late 80’s/early 90’s video game enthusiast!

  • Avatar Steveark July 9, 2018, 5:01 pm

    Great concept, I don’t relate to the video game aspect as much since I’ve always preferred my competitions to be outdoors but relating personal finance to games of any kind really resonates. I always have been pretty frugal and lived beneath my income but at the same time I strove for raises and promotions because money was a fun way to keep score of my success. It felt just like the score for my tennis matches or the finish time for my marathons, except it was better because you can spend money or invest it and my trophies are gathering dust in the attic!

    • FT FT July 9, 2018, 8:58 pm

      Good one Steve! I grew up playing tennis as well – maybe I should write about the sports relation to money too!

  • Avatar Noleigh July 11, 2018, 1:54 pm

    Great correlation between video games and saving. I have always believed that playing old RPG games such as Earthbound, when I was growing up, helped me immensely at learning the game of financial savings. Neat to see that others view this the same way.

  • Avatar Money Beagle July 11, 2018, 4:22 pm

    Great analogy. Money and wealth are not easy subjects for many, but when you can correlate this with something fun (like video games), it can end up making something click. Good work on this one.

  • Avatar GYM July 14, 2018, 2:56 pm

    I love analogies!! As a kid I used to watch my brother play his RPG games all the time.

    When you reach the next level (e.g. net worth milestone or passive income milestone) it feels fantastic!

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