Cashflow: The Board Game That Will Teach You To Be Rich, If You Can Afford It.

By Paul Michael on 31 July 2009 (Updated 6 August 2009) 33 comments
Photo: Rich Dad

Can a simple board game teach you the secrets of the wealthiest people alive? Is it possible to change your mindset and attitude towards money, by playing a game? And can a board game really make you rich? That's what I wanted to know.

I've been reading (and listening to) a lot of Robert T. Kiyosaki's teachings lately. If he sounds familiar to you, he's the Rich Dad, Poor Dad guy. In his book Success Stories

there is a brief introduction to his board game - Cashflow. This game promises to teach you the ways that rich people think, operate and make money. It also promises to change the way you think about money forever, which will ultimately get you out of the rat race and into a life of financial freedom.

Sounds great, right?

I figured I could afford to spring $20-$30 on a board game and see if it really was worth all the self-generated hype. 

As you can imagine, I was a little taken aback by the $256 price tag that came with the "game" when I saw it on Amazon. Being the deal hound that I am, I dismissed this and figured I could find a much better price. This must have been a fluke, surely.

I went to the author's official site. It sells there for $195!

Several days later and I am at the point where I have not been able to find the game for less than $107 including shipping (good ol' eBay). It's a whole lot better than $256, but it's still a heck of a lot to shell out on a board game. And unlike most books (and audiobooks), this isn't one of those things you can rent from your local library.

As this game's cost is now up there with the price of a digital camera, I figured I would do my due diligence and really research Cashflow.  Here are some of my findings.

* The aim of the game is to "buy your dream" or be the first person to reach $50,000 in cash flow.

* At the start of the game, you choose a profession. This profession comes with an income, expenses and cash flow. You also choose a dream, which can be anything from "jetsetting" to "dinner with the president."

to you whether you invest or pass.

* Unexpected expenses pop up, which you have to pay for. They can be large electronic or appliance purchases, bills or other surprise costs.

* When you start making passive income that exceeds living expenses, you leave the rat race and move to the "fast track."

* Your goal, once on the fast track, is to buy the dream you selected at the start of the race.

Now, with a few obvious differences, this seems a lot like Monopoly to me. But the more I read from people who have played Cashflow, the more I believe that this is much more than a simple board game. It seems as if the act of making decisions on every day life and business ventures, and playing a game that is, in effect, a realistic balance sheet, makes a significant difference to the way people think about money.

Whether anyone has actually made a fortune from this game (other than the creator, Kiyosaki) is a mystery. I'm still figuring out whether or not I should buy this game on eBay, or just forget it and read more of Kiyosaki's books fore free, courtesy of the local library.

Have you played the game? Would you buy the game? Is a board game ever worth $256? Do you think a board game can really change your life and make you rich? Over to you.

Note: If you're in the market for economy-based games that are much more reasonably priced, check out Xin Lu's board game article here. At less than $50 a pop, they won't break the bank.

 

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Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

HELL NO it's not worth $256.  Its rating on BoardGameGeek is pretty low, too. 

 

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6552

 

Here's some more discussion about the price from BGG:  http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/104828  The best comment on that thread is this:  "I can say that this game made me money! I bought it for $3 at a thrift store and sold it for $150 on ebay Cashflow has my vote."

 

If you want a good economy/money  based game you should probably try out Power Grid: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2651

 

Guest's picture
Chris

I've played the computer version of the game. I think I still have it. It's ok. It does teach you to start thinking of money and investments differently, but it's not very hard to win the game. Once you get the hang of the way you should choose on the various purchases, you can win it every time you play it. It's a little harder translating that to real like when real dollars are involved.

Paul Michael's picture

I love the thrift store comment. Great feedback guys, keep it coming.

Guest's picture
ricklee

I have played Robert Kiyosaki's Cashflow 3 times. Here's what I liked about it:

1. Taught me how to complete a set of personal financial statements - and helped me visualize income, expenses, assets, liabilities for a pretend character

2. Taught me to evaluate, accept or refuse certain investments and expensive doodads that show up in life.

3. Taught me to look for ways to increase passive income until it is enough to cover my living expenses.

4. Taught me that once I reached financial independence, I can reach for and attain even larger goals.

If the game's price tag is too much, well, I might agree that relative to other board games the price is way steep. But at least it got my mind thinking in financial terms and there is probably a payback in future earnings realized from the enlightenment. Compared with the tuition I paid in University for one semester in Classical Greek History, I'd say I've been more clearly ripped off by more noble educational sources.

Guest's picture
Steve

With all we know about Robert Kiyosaki's personal history and his half-baked financial prescriptions, why do financial writers still take him seriously?

Guest's picture
Guest

Rental residential real estate in the past has been a nice way to supplement your day job.

There is nothing passive, however, in being a landlord.

Especially in today's environment of declining home values AND declining rents.

People here who were cash-flow positive on their rentals 5 years ago are now losing several hundred dollars monthly.

Guest's picture
Guest

Well. If I could turn $250 in profit selling a board game to well-meaning folks at various levels of financial desperation, I could be rich too.

Caveat emptor.

Guest's picture
JQuick

It actually is a fun game to play. I was introduced to the game when I took a rich dad class at my local community college (I live in Phoenix). One of the times we played we were allowed to bring a guest so I brought my mom and she loved it so much my parents bought the game. It is one of our families favorite games to play together.

I do know that you can find local cash flow clubs where local people get together to play the game. You can find where they are located on the community tab at richdad.com. As far as I know the clubs are free to join and free to play.

Guest's picture

If you want a board game to teach you basic economics, try Power Grid or Puerto Rico.

Guest's picture
cheapmama

What do you mean by Puerto RIco?

Guest's picture

Puerto Rico is a boardgame with economy themes.
Want a heavier 1? Try 18xx series. It's about running train company.

Guest's picture

This website has been chronicling all of Rich Dad's claims over the years and it is a real eye-opener:

http://www.johntreed.com/Kiyosaki.html

Guest's picture
Guest

Look it up, Puerto Rico is a board game

Here is the description by BN

Prospector, captain, mayor, trader, settler, craftsman, or builder? Which roles will you play in the new world?

Will you own the most prosperous plantations? Will you build the most valuable buildings? You have but one goal: achieve the greatest prosperity and highest respect! This is shown by the player who earns the most victory points. He will win the game!

Guest's picture

I played it twice or so with a group of people who got together for that very reason. At the time there were several of these groups. Everyone would chip in $5 to play the game. That help offset the original costs.

It's not *just* like Monopoly. As you said, it's more realistic. And when I played it, comparisons to Monopoly were far from my mind. It really takes the essence of "financial getting-ahead" and shows you the skeleton of what it really takes to get where you want. Once you start seeing your own finances like that...it's easier to deal with them in terms of just numbers - makes it easier to manipulate when you can do that without your own psychological, social and other factors getting in the way.

It's just like what some people do with "practice stock trading" perhaps - they do it on paper before doing it for real. Takes the emotion out of it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Why does anybody even give this guy any consideration? His history is a fraud and his personal wealth is from telling other people how to get rich, he never did it himself until claiming to be able to teach others (thanks to the scAmway network that fell for it). Anyone that has anything positive to say has either a vested interest or is a rube.

Guest's picture

Get a library card

Read all the books, learn the theory of all the maths behind it! Save your self the hassle of playing the board game and start a business! Don't buy into a rich person who made there money by teaching people how they got rich! The Theory of the books is correct!

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

I had a chance to play it a bunch of times with a friend who had bought the game. While I wouldn't pay the asking price for it, I found it to be a relatively fun game. I've also Played Puerto Rico, which is great fun - but not as "real world today" as Cash Flow is.

Having said that, although Cash Flow does teach you to evaluate opportunities and develop passive income, there is a certain element of luck (as with most games) that is uncontrollable. (Then again, that's life, isn't it?)

Whether you will benefit from the game depends largely on your current financial paradigm and education. I would suggest that the game is simply a way to emphasize the same lessons taught in his books. If you can learn from books, save your money and just do that. Regardless of whether Kiyosaki is a fraud or not, he has some great concepts to impart.

Guest's picture
a

for posting the link to the review of the Rich Dad author. I was suspicious about the RDPD author, but the info on the Web site gives the specifics. Thank you!

Guest's picture
Ryan

I haven't played the game so I can't say for sure if it'll put you on the fast track to riches but I have heard (from friends who attend investing seminars and such) that it's at least worthwhile to try it.

Here's a few ideas for getting the game cheaper than retail. I'm in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; My appologies if any of these ideas don't apply to your area.

Post a "wanted" ad on Kijiji.com or some other online classfieds indicating you are looking for the game. Someone may have it to sell.

Find a financial and/or investment club in your area and inquire if they have the game (some buy it for their members to use). If they won't loan or rent it to you then find out if any of those clubs offer "game nights"...there have been some in my city.

Or search google for "cashflow game night" and you'll see there's quite a few going on. (sometimes it's part of a free investment seminar so if you feel those are a sham then......just don't go).

Find a few friends who are also interested in trying it and buy it as a group.

For your question: "Can a board game make me rich?"
Maybe not but if you play the game, find it interesting and subsequently start thinking more about YOUR money, where it's going, how to keep more and how to get more then perhaps the game is helping to put you on a faster track than the one you're currently on....

Cheers!

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I hate to say this, but dude I think you have just been conned into purchasing an expensive version of "Life." lol.

Guest's picture
liamjames12

I can't help but notice a notable difference in the postings: Cynics and those who have actually played the game.

As ricklee pointed out, "I'd say I've been more clearly ripped off by more noble educational sources." Don't get me wrong, I took it in stride that certain parts of my degree path may have been less than productive but were necessary to get that important piece of paper and I don't regret doing it. But it is funny how we are conditioned to willingly pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for conventional educational expenses such as the text books and tuition that end up being useless, but are scandalized by things less conventional but equally educational.

If $120 (avg eBay price) is a lot to someone’s budget right now - which could easily be the case - this game probably won't make enough of an immediate difference to justify the price. For everyone else, if you consider it to be a business expense and compare it to any other continuing education expenses, manuals or school costs it is worth the price even if it won't magically make you rich by itself.

Guest's picture
Guestly

I bought the game in around 2000/2001. I played it bunches of times. It is interesting and I have other things to say about it too: A) I bought it for $216 if I remember correctly, so it looks like he's raised the price; B) After "drinking the Kool-Aid" for over a year, I found the johntreed.com website and I came to think, after pondering on it more, that Kiyosaki is a fraud.

It might be OK, though, that Kiyosaki's a fraud because he gives NO ADVICE, all his stuff is like a vague "American Dream" pep talk. He just sprinkles it with accounting speak and corporation stuff and you think it's a new story with new advice. This motivational aspect is why he was able to get in good with Amway. If I understand correctly, he only started selling big because Amway people all started buying his book. (In fact, now that I think about it, I wonder if Kiyosaki's book was declared a "tool" - which is how the Amway bigshots make money (they sell motivational materials)).

Anyhow, it's amazing - if you really look at what he says, or listen to his recordings, he says almost nothing. The man is inarticulate, though he has a decent patter down. He even admits to being inarticulate - dig up some of his .mp3s and you'll hear him admit to it. He mouthes classic motivational-type lines.

For some of his books he is smart enough to bring on people with more credibility than him - the CPAs and whatnot that he co-authors books with. This might also be a liability-prevention measure, I don't know. He does give some good advice, one of which is that people should go to a therapist to keep their heads clear. In my experience the most successful people I have met have all been good models of sane, responsible adulthood. Unfortunately most of us need a therapist to develop equanimity and clearheadedness in life. That advice alone could be worth the rest of what he says. And, if you follow it, ironically, you will be more likely to discover that Kiyosaki is no genius.

About Cashflow, the board game: it is entirely real-estate oriented. It is clear that Kiyosaki doesn't like entrepreneurialism because every card in the game that is associated with starting a business says things like "it takes up 14 hours per day" and then when you look at the cashflow the business generates you see that it sucks - you can never get out of the rat race that way. This is just plain not true in the real world though. If you want hard facts read "The Millionnaire Next Door" to see who the *real millionnaires are in the USA. Of course if you look at the admittedly fake Rich Dad you see that he has "boring businesses" that kick off cash flow. Kinda funny how Kiyosaki - and the game itself - kick you in the other direction.

Back to the game: If you figure out which houses in the game are worth buying and then you just buy them, you will get out of the rat race. It's fairly simple though it can require patience. I imagine that readers here who actually own real estate will probably laugh at this simple picture.

The Profit & Loss statement work is very useful to the average person who just does not "know their numbers." If you were a CPA or whatever then it would probably be almost a complete waste of time. Good entrepreneurs and sales people "know their numbers" as a matter of course, too - the game should have little to teach them.

I remember the first time I played the game. We went around the rat race a bunch of times. I got impatient to "do something"! And, so I bought a bum house. It had negative cash flow. What did I know? I didn't know cash flow from a hole in the ground. I can remember realizing how stupid the purchase was later. None of my tablemates would buy the house off me. LOL Good for them. I started to think more about impatience and "wanting to get started" when I didn't know what I was doing. That was a valuable lesson. It's not like playing the game by itself has made the tendency go away - but it is helpful to have realized this - and the game definitely did that.

If you read and absorb Kiyosaki you will start thinking that there are deals around every corner. You start looking at things differently. It's good - but also could be quite dangerous. Good investors look at an enormous number of deals before they buy something. Amateurs get excited to buy something, anything, and blow it on their first shot. They don't get that yes, the market is full of things to buy, but that you have to know how to evaluate those things and have to walk from the vast majority of them. Kiyosaki can get you excited, make you think it's easy, that the only thing you are missing is the right attitude. Yeah right - sure - piece of cake.

I bought three or four of his books and read them carefully. The idea behind "Cashflow Quadrant" is not bad - he gives you a simple structure to look at jobs and work in the world and then analyze where you fit. It can be quite thought-provoking. Most people do just follow a certain type of life with respect to money.

But on top of all this, John T. Reed says, on his site, that Kiyosaki's book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad contains much wrong advice, much bad advice, some dangerous advice, and virtually no good advice." I decided I'd take Reed at his word (I've never bought anything from Reed, by the way, nor do I have any connection with him.) Luckily for Kiyosaki he gives almost no concrete advice, because Reed points out how if you literally follow what he seems to indicate you should do you might actually be breaking the law. It is interesting to note that the few people who have tried to track down Kiyosaki's investments have come up with a house in Phoenix worth, if I remember correctly, less than 3/4 of a million. And it was bought fairly recently. Anyhow, buys like that are public information - so he didn't even use a corporation or whatever to buy his house - though on his recordings he talks about all these great advantages to incorporating (like, he says, tax breaks on "board meetings" which he seems to think should be held in Hawaii or the Bahamas or wherever).

So, it seems clear that Kiyosaki has made his money selling people like me his products. I doubt he owns much otherwise and I think his talk of being an international businessman who makes deals is puffery.

His comments on the uselessness of much higher education are more poignant now that the employment market has tanked. And considering the enormous debts an entire generation of kids in the US have undertaken to become college grads so they can get those "good jobs" it is indeed a sad picture. But his damning of education is very shortsighted - and should be criticized harshly - because he doesn't point out the obvious: people need a discipline, something that others will pay them for, if they ever want to work for someone. As a practical matter most people will work for someone else most of their life. And when it comes time to hire, I'd hire the college grad with the debt over Kiyosaki anyday. They showed they could stick it out through college. They also, if they have brains, have some sort of mental discipline which they can use to analyze problems.

Remember, "In life, those who can, do, those who can't, teach."

Guest's picture
liamjames12

Wow, that was a whole dissertation. Well said though.

I particularly agree with the "Millionaire Next Door" nod. That is on my top ten of recommendations as well. I agree with the rest of what you wrote as well, although I still maintain that the value that could be taken from the game (and books) for the average person is worth the relatively low $120 eBay cost when compared to other more expensive lessons.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yeap. Millionaire next door uses facts & research, and limits itself. Kiyosaki makes general statements, and is NOT precise. It's a mindset approach that works in seminars as a sales person, but not as someone who'd we'd like to emulate. The research on M. next door seems straight forward, accessible, far less greedy, and most American, available to all people.

The Bus Driver who learns to invest in stocks over 10+ years.

Cashflow quandrant is open in front of me, and I'm eager to learn if the life of Kiyosaki, matches the book. He's clearly is selling a system, with him at the core -- he's an S -- who wants to be a B, by his own lights... I know a few of the various kinds of folks he outlines in the book, and the odd thing is that there's a lot more peace in most of the successful folks I know than in his writing.

I come away from both books, realizing change is possible, but also un-discouraged, because the life style management thing (frugality, etc.) has to be there period to be successful, what ever you do.

Think Madoff and Co. vs. some honest hard-working, and debt free folks you know, who are quiet about their money.

Still, I can see a thread of Greed in K and say, David Bach, etc. but that's different than success cause you do what you love...

Thoughts?

Guest's picture
Steve

I love the time you put into this reply and how thoughtful it is. Thanks! It was incredibly helpful. But why did you have to ruin it with your quote "those who can't teach"? Some of us like teaching whether we can or can't run a business (I run a business on the side as well). Out of the rich friends and relatives I have one used to be a teacher just like me. Just to agree with you though, of all the rich people I know they have all gotten that way from running their own businesses.

Guest's picture
Rock

Thank you so much i am really glad to read this thank you.
i really like this and this is very use full for me.
thank you again.

Guest's picture
Debbie M

I also have a friend who got this game and let me play it.

First, the game is extremely biased. You cannot make more money by getting a higher paying job or reducing your expenses, for example.

Second, there are several situations where you get a range of values when trying to decide whether to buy something, but in real life all you know is what something is for sale for now, what recent and past prices have been, what rents are now, etc. You really cannot predict whether you are buying near a peak or valley as well as you can in this game.

You do get to work with a balance sheet, which is kind of boring actually. Everyone has an accountant to double-check their math (everyone is both a player and an accountant), but in real life, there were usually only one or two people who had a clue and they would be everyone's accountant, including their own.

And after a while, you realize that you can often get lucky with certain kinds of purchases, but rarely unlucky (unlike real life) and never lucky with others.

It was interesting, but mostly I was just trying to guess what would work in the game. As for learning how to do things in the real world, I felt the game was too biased and minimized risk too much and was thus too dangerous.

Guest's picture

The thing you have to remember is that this is merely a board game, and although you might learn a few things from it, it really doesn't instill any great habits from playing it. It might improve your math or problem solving, but to make you a better investor or entrepreneur I find very unlikely.

I played the PC version, and I did have fun with the game, but I got over it quickly after beating it once, and it was really nothing new compared to his book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' mainly because I played it right after I read the book.

That and as it is being a game, it is too complex to be enjoyable. Games are suppose to be entertaining, and if they teach, then they do so without you knowing. I believe there is a lot more value in Monopoly because it teaches you to work with the amount of my money you have, and to make wise investments. And even has the chances that an unexpected expense occurs.

I believe you're better picking up Monopoly for the PC, that way you can play against the computer and really work your brain. As for Cashflow, I wouldn't recommend it, I'd rather buy a Digital Camera and capture memories.

Guest's picture
Justin

WOW....I had no idea of the cost of this game. Would like to play it but I think I will wait until someone else buys it and invites us over. :-)

Guest's picture
Sarah

We actually enjoy playing the game a whole lot, as has everyone we've shared it with. As a game, it's quite good.

(And, I've played it with kids I used to tutor in math so it's not too complicated to be a game.)

Debbie M wrote: "First, the game is extremely biased. You cannot make more money by getting a higher paying job or reducing your expenses, for example."

That's partly true, but that's the point of the game. The game absolutely connects lowering expenses to getting ahead, but the point is that a higher paying job sucks you further into the rat race and tends to make your expenses higher. The game wants you to internalize that low income/low expenses is a more flexible starting position. Whether or not you believe that message is one thing, but that's the game's message and I think it does a good job of promoting that message.

While Kiyosaki may have been discredited himself, some of the basic advice (not thinking of your house as an asset, generating "passive" income, building a business not just creating a job for yourself as a self-employed person) really changed the way we saw our financial situation.

Granted, I'm sure a lot of that had to do with the fact that his books were #1 best sellers right at the time we started to get serious about entrepreneurship/personal finance. His were "the" books to read at the time, and there was good advice to be found in them. We also were influenced heavily by "Your Money or Your Life" and "Free Parking" so we were getting a lot of good ideas right around the same time. (If you're put off by Kiyosaki himself, do check out those other 2 books. They're older, but they're great.)

"It also promises to change the way you think about money forever, which will ultimately get you out of the rat race and into a life of financial freedom."

It sounds so corny, but this is exactly the experience we had, as a culmination of the variety of personal finance books we'd read, our decision to move to the middle of nowhere and buy a house for less than my parents spent on their minivan. It's true that it's difficult for money to be totally passive, but having bought enough rental properties (again, in cheapie-land, but where most people rent houses instead of apartments) to justify paying a property manager, we're well on our way to the income being quite passive.

I do credit the game for giving us a particular "a ha!" moment, but we had also already planned a crazy lifestyle change, so we weren't in "this is just a game and it won't ever work in real life" mode to begin with. We were playing the game with the intention of living it, and that's pretty much what happened. Had we not been already primed to change our lifestyle, then it probably would have felt just like playing Monopoly. (Although, I find this game much more fun than Monopoly.)

Certainly it's not worth the cost for everyone (and you don't even want to know what it sold for in Canada at its prime!) but if you get a chance to play someone else's, I'd take it.

Guest's picture
Brian Zylstra

I bought this game because I saw it mentioned in 3 different sources that I trusted (none of which were RDPD or Kiyosaki related) and credit it with one of my three "ah-ha!" moments in my financial life.

I had played it with friends 3-4 times, and I could never get ahead. I couldn't figure out why things would work out for them, and not for me. Eventually, I learned that I had to look at more than what I was just buying, I needed to look at the value, and to have money set aside to take advantage of deals when I see them happen. And it's worked out wonderfully over the last 3 years.

Granted, I'm the only one I know who has had such an experience, but I'll just add my cents to the pile.

Guest's picture

i stumbled upon this blog by searching agricola and other economy games. i've played puerto rico and agricola. maybe i'll buy le havre and caylus. then i click another interesting link to this post.

i've played the 101 version (my friends bought it) and 202 and other version in pc (my friend decided just too download it :P). the game wasn't that hard, my first time played 101, got out in rat race 7 turns. my second time, took me just 3 turns. now the 202 version in pc are much more a little bit complex, but it wasn't hard either as long as you know how to play.

i agree that the game have minimized the risk very much (apart from the real life) but that's just a game.

btw, very nice blog. :)

Guest's picture
AlamPersada

Good review.. Stumbled on this blog when i ask denis to find some good economic games. And i'm his friends who owned the game. If you study economic (like me) this game didn't teach anything new. They only presented opportunities, and the risk is really really minimized. Maybe if you don't understand anything about economy, or accounting, this game is pretty good. But for me, it will just sit still in the corner..