10 Reasons Why Personal Finances Are Like The Settlers of Catan

Brent Pittman —  03/15/2016
I hex Catan

Photo Credit Will Merydith (Creative Commons)

If you haven’t played the German board game, The Settlers of Catan, you are missing out.

German board games are all the rage among both geeks and hipsters alike. *Warning they are addictive and make you use your brain.

Even if you’ve never played The Settlers of Catan, I think you’ll learn to win with money by playing this crazy fun game.

What is The Settlers of Catan?

The basic premise of The Settlers of Catan is to be the first to achieve 10 points first. Sounds easy enough.

You’ll gather resources: Wool, Grain, Lumber, Ore, Brick and then use them to build cities & roads, buy cards, and of course trade.

Settlers is a bit like Risk meets Monopoly, but shorter. You’ll be able to play in an hour once you learn the rules. Trust me this a game you’ll want to play over and over again. Check the official rules if you’re super geeky.


Catan gameboard

Settlers of Catan Island (Photo Credit ginnerobot)

10 Reasons Why Finances Are Like The Settlers of Catan

1) The Game Changes- The island is never the same, so each game is unique. Also, the game changes due to the robber or due to the strategy of other players. With personal finance, you’ve got to be ready to change your budget when things come up or changes in your personal economy happen. Be flexible and don’t make epic budgeting mistakes.

2) Trading with the Bank is the last option- In Catan you’ll be able to made trades with the bank, but at a terrible exchange rate of 4:1. Look for other options with your money than trading with the bank. Avoid debt. Paying with cash is best. Remember the bank is the real winner.

3) Protect Your Money Making Hexes– In Catan, you’ll find that you’ll have several hexes that are money makers, so you’ll want to protect them from the robber. Have insurance in place for your finance to protect your income and belongs. Make sure you’ve got disability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, ID theft insurance, and homeowners insurance to keep money flowing when bad times happen.

4) Build a Long Road– Having the longest road will give you 2 victory points. Once attained, it’s tough to keep. Play your financial game for the longest road, not the quick short gain. Invest for the long term 5+ years at least and build a long road toward your financial and life goals.

5) Winners Barter With Friends- The people who usually win Settlers of Catan are excellent traders. Those who win with money, also play well with others and trade or barter information and even business opportunities. Find people in your life who know how to make and use money properly and soon you’ll be on the fast track to 10 victory points.

6) Fear the Robber-If the robber is camped out on your hex, you won’t collect cards. Keep an emergency fund of 3-6 months of necessities so you’ll be able to survive when the robber is camped out on your life’s hexes.

7) Diversify your Hexes (Income)– You’ll need multiple resources to win in Catan. It’s almost impossible to win with sheep alone. Diversify your income with side hustles, dividend income, rental property, or other means of passive income. If one stream dries up, you’ll have other income that continues to roll in.

8) Teaching Others Will Improve Your Skills- The best way to hone your game skills is to teach your friends or family. I’ve found that as I write and teach others about money, my money skills become sharpened. Find someone to teach and start. Your kids are a great place to begin, since you’ll have to break down complex ideas into their basic building blocks.

9) City Life Is Good– Upgrade from a settlement to a city will give you 2 points and double the resource cards. City life is good, with more opportunities and higher wages.  If you’re having trouble with your low income, perhaps its time for a move to the city, where more job opportunities lie. It’s hard to budget, when your income is too low.

10 Invest in Culture– When you buy cards, you might just get a culture card that is 1 Victory point. Invest not only in financial products, but in your education, family, learning, and cultural entertainment. Life isn’t all about money, so make sure to have fun and learn along the way.

#11 Bonus Having Fun Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune– A small investment into a family board game will yield compounding dividends of fun and family bonding. Likewise starting a business doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can lead you to follow your passions that solve others problems.

Play Settlers of Catan

If you’re interested in playing this game and supporting this site, feel free to purchase The Settlers of Catan or one of the Catan expansion sets.

Need to learn how to play? Check out this tutorial.

Have you played Settlers of Catan? What life or money lessons did it teach you? 

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.