Saturday, August 28, 2010

5 Things I Learned About Personal Finance From Playing Video Games

So, I’ve been playing video games for pretty much the last 18 years. I’ve played just about every type of game there is. Over the years I’ve noticed that some games have their own mini economies. Now most of them are very loosely related to real life economy so they aren't too reliable, but I think that some of the lessons I’ve learned can be applied to real life.

5.) You Get What You Put Into It. In my years of playing WoW I’ve never really had money problems. My brother on the other hand is always suffering for gold. Why? Well he sits around all day doing raids and battlegrounds, nothing more, where as I go around and do daily quests, mining when I’m waiting for a raid to start, and I work the auction house regularly.

What this translates into isn’t just “The more you work the more you get”, but it also has to deal with how you work. When I would go mining I had a set path, and I had a set path to do my dailies. It was the most efficient way to do things. And when I was waiting to do something else, I was still going around mining, getting more stuff to sell.

Which brings me to #4…

4.) Don’t Get Too Greedy. In WoW, if you sell things on the Auction House too high, it wont sell and you lose your deposit. In any RTS, if you try to expand your resources too quickly with out enough defenses, you’re subject to getting attacked with out a way to defend.

Basically, you have to know your limits. This doesn’t mean never take a chance, or to always play things safe, however it does mean don’t go gamble your home in a game of craps. Or, in a more practical sense, it’s ok to take risks, but be prepared to deal with the consequences. Both the good and bad.

3.) Keep Something in Reserve. In WoW, you never ever want to be broke. It’s not that getting money isn’t easy (sometimes I wish it was as easy to make money in real life), but you never know when you might need more than you have. This doesn’t work so well in RTS games as money sitting around is a waste in the early game and building units takes time.

This rule is why I have my “Oh S***” account. This way, if I find out I am suddenly in need of money I have it.

2.) Get a Goal, and Stick With It. It doesn’t mater if it’s a Viking rush or saving up for that tundra’s traveler’s mammoth, having a goal will make you more efficient in what you spend and what you save. No reason to spend a lot on of your resources on buildings and upgrades you don’t need.

However, you can’t just say, “I want to look better next year.” A better goal is more specific, more direct and therefore easier to attain. “I will to lose 30 pounds and be in better shape the end of 2011.” An even better goal is still more detailed. Get into how you are going to achieve you goal. “I will research various weight loss and strength training programs, compare them together to see which fit best with the amount of time and money I can invest into this. Then once I have a set plan and know what and how I will lose weight and gain muscle, I will follow my plan for more than just a month.”

1.) Two Cash Flows are Better Than One. In WoW I do dailies, but while doing them I mine ore, I queue for instances, and I have auctions going while I’m working. In RTS games, expand your base when you can. Limiting yourself to one stream of income is a bad idea.

So in real life, don’t just rely on your job. Having more than one source of income is the best way to do things, preferably if one of them can be passive income. The best way to make money is making money even when you’re sleeping.

Yes, this last one sounds like it contradicts the first one, but if you put effort into your passive income it’s still putting effort into your income.

(NOTE: I'm an English Major. I only know what I've learned from my parents and various financial blogs, which is not enough. Please take this information with a grain of salt.)

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