What Pokemon GO Can Teach You About Finance
I’ve got a serious confession for you all. Pokémon GO is quickly consuming my life. Like I’ve very much walked into people, traffic, lingerie stores, and other people’s houses just to nab a damn Squirtle. But seeing that it’s been out for close to a week now, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the game. It also presents an opportunity to write an article about Pokémon, for which I will never apologize.
So while draining my phone in 45 minutes and trying to weave my way through alleys through which I should never weave, I came up with 4 personal finance lessons that you can take away from Pokémon GO. And while I’ll never tell you that it’s OK to run across traffic because you think you can get a legendary Pokémon, here’s where I think Pokémon GO and your finances overlap.
Resource Allocation And Budgeting
I’ve yet to write an article on budgeting, but it stands to reason that resource allocation is a huge part of maximizing wealth (and making sure that you have enough Pidgey candies to train the living shit out of your Pidgeot). Think about it: in Pokémon GO, if you’re the loser who’s randomly training your Pokémon with no plan to evolve them, then how do you ever plan on heading over to a gym and beating the snot out of some trainer’s Arcanine? Or if you’re randomly using inscense or lure to get Pokémon to come to you, instead of using them strategically (like waiting till 3 am when all you can think about is that Electabuzz that’s one paw print away).
In the same way you think strategically about your Pokémon, you need to think about your finances. After all, unless you’re the US government, the amount of money you have to spend is finite, no matter how much you have. If you want to save up some cash so you can do that spring break trip to Fiji, but don’t make a plan for how you’re going to save, then how could you possibly expect to be successful? You may want to put 20% of your income away in a retirement vehicle so you can be the most bad-ass party animal that a 65 year-old can be. But that means that you’re probably not going to be going out to lunch/dinner 10 times a month.
Key Takeaway – You’ve only got so much money (or stardust/Pokémon candies). In order to meet your goals, you need to budget and plan out your resources carefully.
Go Get “It”
I read this awesome article that talks about how Pokémon GO was able to do what fitbit was never able to: get people out and walking. And while I don’t think that the key to getting rich is getting in your 10,000 steps, I do believe there is some merit in exploring this “go out and get ’em” mentality.
In Pokémon GO, there is really no efficient way to play the game while sitting on your couch. If you see a super rare Pokémon that’s three paw prints away, then I’d be willing to bet you’ll move hell and high water to get to it. You cannot binge-watch OITNB and be the best Pokémon trainer in the world; it simply doesn’t work that way. Now, the trick is to get people to treat their personal finances the exact same way they play the game: by going out and getting what they want!
Guys, you’re never going to get rich or lead the life you want to by sitting on your asses and doing nothing. GoT can wait, and while eating an entire pizza was probably a point of pride for you when you were 16, it’s now gone from “cool” to “You’re the guy who get’s tears all over his meat-lovers.” You need to do the research yourself (PREFERABLY ON THIS BLOG #SHAMELESSLYSELFPROMOTE) and make sure that you’re taking responsibility for your financial future. Because here’s the thing; no one else will. Your neighbors won’t help you get rich, your mailman won’t help you get rich, and your pikachu certainly dgaf if you’re net worth hit $1,000,000 last week.
Get out, earn that money, work a side hustle, and start socking money away.
Key Takeaway – Wealth only comes to those who seek it.
Patience Is Not Just A Virtue, But A Necessity
This is where I’ll probably start breaking some hearts. Unless you’re the next Zuckerberg, or you come up with the next Amazon, Snapchat, or Instagram, you’re not going to get rich overnight. Are there some ways that we can expedite the process to becoming rich? Sure! Is your idea for “doggy lingerie” going to get you to billionaire status overnight? Nope.
Patience is going to be key to building wealth. And the more patient you are, the more wealthy you are likely to become.
For example, let’s talk about my Pidgeot. Now, I’m very proud of this Pokémon for one simple reason: Do you have any idea how many Pidgeys I had to catch in order to evolve them into that fucking bird? 17. 17 damn Pidgeys. It took me forever to get there, but I’m super happy I did, because I now have this formidable flying-type Pokémon that I have every intention of taking to gyms and beating the living crap out of every opponent I have.
Or another example: that damned “Level 5”. I get why the developers won’t let you battle at a gym before reaching level 5. They force you to be patient so you can learn the game a bit better and so you don’t get discouraged when you get your ass beat. But once you’ve reached that level, you’ve earned the right to battle your Pokémon. And since you’ve reached a higher level, stronger Pokémon should be popping up on your map.
In the same way it pays to be patient in the game (by waiting to evolve into stronger Pokémon, or to hit level 5), it pays to be patient when it comes to your finances. You’ll never become rich overnight in the stock market, I don’t care who you talk to or who you think you know. However, with a long time horizon for your investments (anywhere from 10-40 years) you can build significant amount of wealth.
Key Takeaway – The more patient you are, the wealthier you will be!
Life Should Not Have Just One Central Focus
This has less to do with personal finance and more to do with my outlook on life, but it’s still an important distinction.
Your life should not only revolve around one activity/group/substance/game/whatever.
If you’re reading this, then chances are you are human. And if that’s the case, then you need to realize that diversity really is the spice to life! I’ve read (as I’m sure you all have, too) the stories of people that are spending their lunch breaks catching Pokémon, or walking around the office trying to catch Pokémon, or going home and trying to catch Pokémon. There really has to be a limit to these sort of activities that gain a cult following.
If you’re trying to catch a Pokémon while having sex, then you need to pull back a little. If you’re three year-old daughter just fell from a tree, but you’re still trying to get that Rattata, you need to pull back a lot. If you’re at a funeral and there’s a Ghastly over the casket, then for the sweet love of baby Jesus, put your fucking phone away. There is a time and a place.
In the same way, I really do feel that personal finance can become a huge monster if you let it. There are stories out there of people who retire at 30 because they’ve saved 70% of their income. How do they do it? Well, they severely limit themselves. We’re talking no Netflix/computers/eating out/iPhone/vacations/gym memberships/clothes/cars/etc. They track every single penny (literally) and save up as much as humanly possible while still eating/drinking/maintaining a roof over their heads.
That sounds like a shitty life to me.
So yes, put away your money and follow the advice I’m sharing. But for God’s sake, if you’re going to eat out, plan it and enjoy it! If you can budget for Netflix and still reach your financial goals, then get Netflix! Life is not meant to be super restrictive just so you can hit a goal! You can have a latte once a week; it’s not going to turn you from this
Key Takeaway – Life is meant to be lived, not restricted.
What Pokémon GO can teach you about Personal Finance – The Wrap Up
I must admit, I do love this game. It’s a great throwback to a time when all I had to worry about was memorizing multiplication tables and coloring inside the lines. But now that I’ve matured (HA!) it’s cool to see how something as simple as a game on a smart phone can have some pretty important financial lessons. Again, they were:
- Resource Allocation and Budgeting Matter
- Go Get “It’
- Patience Is Not Just A Virtue, But A Necessity
- Life Should Not Have One Central Focus
Has Pokemon Go taught you anything? Besides how to walk primarily with your peripheral vision? Comment below and let me know!
Keep trying to catch ’em all,
Shit, wait, that’s not right.
Keep trying to crack the code,