Right now, you are playing in the biggest, most important game of your life. How are you doing?
That game is “The Money Game” and you’re in it because you are making financial choices each and every day. You can’t opt out of this game. You can’t sit on the bench or go back into the locker room. You’re out there on the Money Game field, pitted against millions of other players (someone had to tell you).
Since you’re in this game and you can’t opt out, it would seem like a good idea to know how to play the Money Game… and win.
The Money Game (like all games) has three basic elements. The first one is offense. In the Money Game, the offense includes income, savings and investment choices. When you do well on offense, you score points and improve your position. That’s how it works in the Money Game, too.
Then there’s the defense – protecting what you already have. In the Money Game, that can involve insurance, cash reserves or legal protections like an estate plan.
The third part of any game worth playing is celebration. When you score a goal, you celebrate. When you hit a good shot, celebrate. When your defense makes a great stop, celebrate. In the Money Game, celebration is using your money to pay for something … something that is (hopefully) enjoyable and worth celebrating.
One key to winning the money game is to have balance between all three aspects of the game. If your team has a great offense but no defense, you’ll be doomed to lose no matter how many times you score. If you’re out there on the field celebrating all the time but not paying attention to your offense or your defense – well, that won’t end up very well for you, either.
Once you have accepted that (a) you are in this Money Game and (b) you can’t opt out, it becomes obvious that some effort toward doing your best at each aspect of the game (offense, defense and celebration) is worth the time and energy you might spend on it.
Not working to improve your skills in the Money Game would be like going out on the football field of an NFL game with little to no experience. You might have all the protective gear in the world, but you’ll still get beat up (example: watch the movie “Rudy”).
Reasons to Celebrate
Remember that at least one aspect of the Money Game is a heck of a lot of fun. That element is “celebration.” When you have a better offense, you score more points so you can celebrate more. When you have a great defense, your successes on offense will be more effective and long-lasting, which will give you more to celebrate with as well.
So use celebration as the motive to keep working on improving your offense and defense.
Whether you like it or not, you ARE a player in the Money Game.
Unfortunately (for them), the attitude for many of your neighbors is to never try to improve. It’s too difficult/confusing/boring. They would rather focus on something else so they go out on the field – suited up but otherwise unprepared – and let life “hit them in the face” (like Rudy). They don’t work to improve their cash flow, income, savings or investments, nor do they pay attention to how well they are protected out there on the field.
They just go out and hope they don’t get hit… and then wonder why they don’t have a lot to celebrate about later.
There is one other thing to keep in mind: when we are younger, we have more capacity for growth (offense). While celebration is fun and an important part of the game at any time, it is also important to save some of your energy for later in the game. As you get older, your capacity for growth gets smaller… but your total score (resources) gets larger (as long as your defense has done their job).
The celebrations at the end of the game are often sweeter than those in the first few minutes.