Monday, May 12, 2014

A great finance lesson from Plants vs. Zombies...thanks to this gem of a book

Learning how to manage your money is among the most important skills one should know.  However, I strongly feel, and I think you’d agree with me, that Filipinos in general do not manage money very well.  The subject of money is not talked about much either.  Why is that?  Maybe…

  • It’s too sore or sensitive an issue (often in homes where it’s all-too-painfully in short supply)?  
  • It’s taboo to talk about it as you’ve been taught that doing so shows you’re greedy and “money is the root of all evil.”  
  • Because the task, especially the financial jargon, is too daunting and you resign yourself to leave money management to those who work in banks?

I’ve read several money management books (I’m especially a fan of Robert Kiyosaki’s books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Retire Young, Retire Rich), and I feel you all should read them too.  I’ve recently read a local (Philippine made) gem of a book called I Wish They Taught Money In High School, that contains one of the simplest and coolest financial lessons I’ve ever read.  

First, though, let me answer one of the questions posted above.


The Bible doesn’t say that “money is the root of all evil.”  The proper verse, located in 1 Timothy  6:10 is “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  Money is not evil or good, but neutral; but your love for it, especially if you love it more than God…yeah, it can be the root of all sorts of evil.

The verse, even if said correctly, can also be misinterpreted as: “Okay, so that means that I should pay no attention to my financial health and have no financial aspirations at all; because if I do, then I ‘love money’ and therefore I shall do evil.”  No, that’s not it, either.

The truth is, you should think about money.  You should think about money a lot.  It’s not the most important thing in the world, yes…but it affects the ones that are important.  Right?

Personally, I want my life to be defined as one that serves God and others wholeheartedly.  Oftentimes, money issues get in the way of that.  Boo!  That’s why it should be given serious thought so that you steward it well...and I think that's Biblical.

The book, I Wish They Taught Money In High School, by writers Clarissa Serña-de la Paz and Sharon W. Que, gave a fantastic example of how important it is to manage money well by investing, using the popular video game Plants vs. Zombies (I loved it 'cuz I'm a fan of the game and its sequel).  



If you’ve played the game, you’d know that sun is basically cash.  You use sun to buy the plants you need to defend your home from zombies.  The suns trickle in from the sky at regular intervals; however, as any PvZ player would know, if you depend only on the trickling sun so that you can buy plants to defend yourself, you’re in big trouble.  That’s not enough to buy the plants you need, and soon you’re overrun by zombies and they’re having your brains for lunch.

"Buy me FIRST!"
What’s the FIRST thing a good Plants vs Zombies player does the moment he gets some sun?  He buys sunflowers.  What do sunflowers do?  They give you even more sun (the twin sunflowers, of course, are more expensive, but they bring you double the reward).  See the lesson?  You prioritize spending your sun on things that bring you even more sun.  Once you have lots of sunflowers, then and only then do you buy the other plants.

That’s a gem of a lesson in real life money management.  It’s so simple yet so vivid that I taught it to my kids (again, thanks to the book I Wish They Taught Money In High School for pointing this out)

The sun that trickles down represents your income from your job.  Yeah, you get it every 15 and 30, and yeah, it’s regular…but if that’s all you depend on for your entire life, boy oh boy you’re in big trouble.

A smart person, right from the get-go, lives frugally and focuses much of his cash on things that bring even more cash into his pocket.  This is called investing.  Then, when your investments have grown, then and only then do you buy other things.

But what do most of us do?  

We invite the whole city to dinner on our first paycheck.  We buy pricey toys, gleaming trinkets, and vice.  We take the family to expensive trips.  Then, the allure of credit cards pop up and beg us to use them, and so we ruin ourselves financially by using them for more toys, trinkets, trips, and vice.  Then we try to pay for them using the trickling 15 and 30 regular income.

Man, that’s um, not very smart…and sadly, many of us are there.  Best to first focus on investing, and then spend for the stuff later.

I suggest you read up on books that increase your financial intelligence.  The book I got the Plants vs. Zombies illustration from is a great start.  I Wish They Taught Money In High School also does a great job in making all this sound simple, in case you are one of the many who find the thought of learning about finance a daunting task.  Go to National Book Store or Fully Booked to get a copy today.   You can also click here to order it online.

(This blog site, Lessons Of A Dad is mostly about parentingmarriage, and other topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul.  I’d consider it an honor if you’d follow or subscribe to this site.  You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)

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