Things I’ve Learnt from Playing Lock Down Monopoly

We’ve been stuck at home for quite some time now. As a result, we’ve done everything from catching up on long-neglected books to tending to our gardens. Solving puzzles with the family and hunkering down in front of a board game has become a sort of a daily ritual.

You can learn a lot about people from the way they approach board games. Are they competitive or just focused on having fun? Are they casual with the rules, or do they scour the rule book at every opportunity? Are they looking for a win-win, or do they want to come out on top no matter what?

The game that we know as Monopoly was originally called “The Landlord’s Game.” Its focus was to show that a system that rewards wealth creation is better than one that rewards only a few monopolists. Here’s what you can learn from this classic board game.


In Monopoly, it’s tempting to buy everything you run across to build your property portfolio. However, if you let your cash resources get too depleted, a bad roll or two could lead to financial ruin.

As you build your real estate portfolio, it’s tempting to look at everything you see. However, this can lead to excessive spending and stretched debt levels. A bad month or decrease in your income can wreak havoc on your budget.

Be careful of taking on too much debt. Examine the ROI (return on investment) on the things you invest in so you can ensure that you are making good choices and gaining value from the things you purchase.


You may spend a little extra on improvements assuming you’re going to make it up when you pass Go — then a Chance or Community Chest card puts all of your best-laid plans to naught.

We’ve all heard the maxim “pay yourself first”. You need cash set aside for the expected — taxes, fees and ongoing expenses — as well as the unexpected, like for hot water system that decodes to stop working or unexpected storm damage. More often than not, people come unstuck not because of the level of debt but because of their inability to manage their cash flow and their income.

Make sure that your perspective on your money and your investments are always realistic and that you plan for both the upside and the downside.


Monopoly is all about scale — buy up properties and begin building houses. Build more houses, and upgrade to a hotel. There’s always a way to scale up and increase the value of your investment.

Growing up, Monopoly was one of my favourite games. I thought about the game a lot when I first started learning about real estate investment.

Just as you increase the value of your investment in Monopoly, so you can follow suit in the real world, albeit not by building hotels.

Maintaining the value of what you own through regular maintenance and check-ups is the first and most important aspect of being a homeowner. Analysing ways of increasing the value of your home through renovations and additions is a good way of improving the underlying worth of your home.

Looking after what you already have rather than buying more is sometimes the key to increasing your portfolio value rather than increasing your debt levels.

Sometimes a $50,000 renovation on a home that now elevates the property into the next price bracket is a far better investment than the purchase of an additional home.


How do you react to a bad roll of the dice or an unexpected losing streak? If you let it — and your fellow players — get to you, you’ll probably find yourself on the losing side in most games, not just Monopoly.

It’s not always smooth sailing investing in real estate — if it were, everyone would do it. You struggle with cash flow, market conditions and a host of unforeseen situations, like the current global outbreak. How you respond to these situations often makes the difference between a reasoned, thoughtful approach and a spontaneous, emotional one that you may live to regret.

If you find yourself reacting emotionally rather than acting reasonably, it may be time to incorporate some mindfulness into your routine. Just 10-20 minutes a day can help you become calmer, more centred and better able to control those overcharged responses so that you make better decisions.


You went into the game planning to plant your hotels on the priciest neighbourhoods, then sit back and collect the big money. Instead, you find that someone else got to them first, and you’re left with the small potatoes on the board.

It’s easy to go into real estate thinking you have a plan, and then find out that your plan isn’t working. You sometimes find that you need to regroup and come up with a new plan of action.

Instead of getting stuck, look around at the opportunities that have presented themselves to you. Maybe you should focus on a specific niche or cultivate some investment opportunities. Flexibility is your friend and can help you maximize your chance to succeed


While others are buying up the board, you’re quietly focusing on dominating a few affordable neighbourhoods. Soon, you’re bringing in big rental payments while other players struggle.

Many people go into real estate to be generalists. They want to buy everywhere.

Focusing on a narrow niche can help you create a portfolio that you can become a specialist in rather than a generalist. Being a specialist in a niche part of the Real Estate market as an investor will enable you to take advantage of opportunities that others may not see.


You cornered some neighbourhoods early, but the dice is just not on your side. No one has been landing on your properties, and now your resources are dwindling.

We all have times when things are not going our way. Maybe the market is in a slump. Maybe Mercury is in retrograde. Whatever the reason, it’s important to always have something else going on to make it through the lean times.


Maybe you went all-in on the railroads, or maybe you cashed in with Free Parking. Maybe the dice was on your side, or you guarded your cash reserves smarter than the other players.

In many industries, there’s a clear path to success with only a few winners and lots of losers. By contrast, real estate offers a variety of ways to win, and there’s always a new strategy to try.

In real estate, you’re only limited by your insight, market knowledge and imagination. The huge number of books advisors and properties brokers all professing that they have the answers to make a fortune in real estate is testament to the number of different ways there are to pass GO!


You’ve white-knuckled it, but you’re rounding Go. Collect $200!

The easiest thing in the world is to give up when times get tough. However, you need to keep looking for new ways to put the time and experience you have to work. Although you may need to make some adjustments as you Go, it’s the Go-ing that brings the rewards.

Keep moving forward, keep learning from your mistakes, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take an honest look at what you’re currently doing and figure out how to put the pedal to the metal. You’ll look back someday and be grateful that you didn’t quit when times got tough — you found a new way to win.

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