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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? 

Have you played? Likely you have tossed a frisbee around on the beach, but have you run up and down the field catching an Ulta-Star Disc? If so, then you’ve played Ultimate Frisbee. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out!

This game is not for the faint of heart. I’ve played pickup games, the club team at Auburn University, and several summer and winter leagues.

I’ve also been an investor for several years and have noticed that investing is like learning how to play Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate in 10 Simple Rules.

10 Ways Investing is Like Ultimate Frisbee

  1. The Field– You’ve got to know where the field is and what the dimensions of the field are. In investing, the field is the stock market and the disc is the vehicle you’ll use to invest (stocks, bonds, mutual funds…etc).
  2. Initiate Play- To begin playing, throw the disc! With investing it’s better to start sooner than later as soon as you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund, but don’t ever invest in something you don’t understand first. Make sure to find an advisor you can trust.
  3. Scoring- First one to 10 wins! When you invest, plan for a set period and keep with it, Remember you’re in it for at least 5 years and possibly till retirement.
  4. Movement of the Disc- Once the disc starts flying, no telling where it will land. With your investments, they’ll likely be some volatile times. Just remember this is part of the game.
  5. Change of Possession- I have to confess that I did drop the frisbee sometimes. When you start out investing, you’ll drop the disc too. You’ll make mistakes with what advisors to choose and investments to make, but cheer up! You’ll learn and do better next time. But, don’t drop too much or you’ll have to run laps.
  6. Substitutions- No subs once play has started. Once you begin investing, don’t stop. Investing is for 5 years or more, not for short term gains.
  7. Non-Contact- No tackling each other on the field! Stay in contact with your advisor and ask them questions if you need help. If they don’t stay in touch with you, it might be time to find a new advisor/broker.
  8. Fouls- It isn’t worth winning if you have to cheat. That said, don’t try to cheat with your investments and forthcoming earnings on your taxes. If it feels dirty, it probably is.
  9. Self-Officiating- This game has no referees. You have to be a student of the game and continue reading books by great investors like Warren Buffett. Don’t hand the keys over to your advisor or your 401K. Make sure to look at your quarterly statements and read about what’s going on with your nest egg or Porsche fund.
  10. Spirit of the Game- Ultimate Frisbee doesn’t have referees since everyone is supposed to play nice and be honest. In the end having fun and playing tomorrow is more important than arguing in the moment. With investing, play for the long term and remember that your faith and family are ultimately more important than money.
Follow me on Twitter. Better yet buy an extra ultra star 175g disc to support the blog. 

(Photo by Rob)

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made a top ten list of the Scariest Financial Products. Mind you this is my list and using these products could be dangerous to your financial health.

Coffee Art: Skull

Are you scared yet?

  1. Viatical Settlement– Care to make some money on someone’s death? Buy a viatical and you get the leftovers from their life insurance policy. Basically you get more money if they die early. How morbid!
  2. Gold Futures– Want to loose sleep for 3 months and become a walking zombie? Investing in gold isn’t a great idea, but gold futures are one the riskiest investments around. Play this game and you could loose your sleep and your shirt!
  3. Zombie Insurance– Need protection against the undead? Look no further…ok this one is a gag, but great idea!
  4. A.R.M.- Want to loose your arm, a leg, and your house? Well, these Adjustable Rate Mortgages will scare the life out of you when the interest rate adjusts beyond your paycheck. Be sure to get a fixed rate mortgage and avoid loosing your body parts.
  5. Post Apocalyptic Insurance– Think you’ll need to eat after the apocalypse happens? There is a solution: Food insurance.  I find it funny that all the pictures on the website are of smiling people.Wipe that smile off your face! The earth is destroyed and almost everyone is dead, but smile because you bought food insurance and you’ll live to see another day.
  6. Whole Life Insurance– This product is scary indeed, especially with all the low cost of term life insurance. You might roll over in your grave when you realize your whole life insurance policy was terrible and you could have bought much better coverage for a cheaper price.
  7. Pay Day Loans– The interest rates you’ll be charged will make you think they are bleeding you to death.
  8. 401K Debit Card– You’ve been saving for retirement for years now. Great….now can I get a card that lets me spend all that money I’ve been saving and investing? What? I have to pay it back with interest? When I leave my job I have to pay it back in full ASAP or I’ll get charged huge tax fees? Yes! This little piece of plastic could make your retirement years a living hell. You’ve been warned.
  9. Any insurance company whose main mascot is a lizard or duck….these talking animals just creep me out. (Some of their products are legit and some are unnecessary)
  10. Tax rates when I “retire“- O.K. this isn’t a financial product, but who knows how high our tax rates will be in 30 years? This one is the most frightening of them all, especially since our national debt keeps growing.
(Photo by Alice Carrier )
Christmas Gifts Storm Trooper

What does a  Stormtrooper give his little troopers? Credit Kalexanderson.

Christmas is a season of giving. It is about blessing others because we ourselves have been blessed. It is a time to remember the gift of Jesus. We want to express our love and appreciation. Plus there are other reasons to give that I wrote about if you need more motivation to give.

You may be convinced that you should give gifts for Christmas, but there are other thorny questions lingering about giving that we should address.

Should I give if I’m in debt?

Yes, I suggest to my clients that you should continue to be in the practice of giving. Be cautious about your heart that it doesn’t become greedy, even though you’re in debt. Decide to give a certain percentage of your income each month as a practice. If there is no way you can give money this year, then give your time volunteering at a local non-profit.

I don’t want to give ‘Stuff’. What should I do?

Give relationally! Give gifts that will have you spend time together. Puzzles, games, outings, events…etc. Relationships are more important than boxes. Have you heard of the Advent Conspiracy?

How much should I spend on Christmas gifts?

You’ll have to decide for yourself of course. I do suggest you make a budget and stick to it. There is no reason to go into debt to buy stuff for others, especially if it involved co-signing or loans.

Can I give too much at Christmas?

As long as you don’t go into debt, go crazy giving. Just be wise in how you go about it. You don’t want to make a relationship awkward by giving too much. If you’ve got the dough, go and bless others!

I’m not a Christian, can I still give gifts for Christmas?

While Christmas is largely a religious holiday, it is also part of Western culture. If you want to give, then give. There are no restrictions. I’m sure both you and your receiver will be blessed no matter your spiritual views.

Whom should I give to?

Again, a personal decision. If you feel obligated to give to someone out of guilt or shame, then perhaps either your motivation needs checking or that relationship mending. If you’re in business don’t forget your boss, co-workers, clients, and vendors.

Should I give my boss a Christmas gift?

Why are you giving to them? To show thanks? To get a promotion? Giving to your boss or co-workers can be tricky. Whew! I’m glad I’m self-employed. Here is a good guide for shopping for your boss and coworkers.

I got a gift last year that I didn’t use. Is re-gifting ok?

Yes, but don’t get caught or give something cheesy unless it’s funny and the recipient will get your humor. Remember Seinfeld’s “The Label Maker”?

Is it ok to give cash for a Christmas present?

Of couse! Especially in hard economic times or if you don’t know what to get someone, then cash or a gift card is acceptable.

I want to give to charity. How do I know if my charity is legitimate?

First off, I’d ask them. This is a common question and they should have a ready answer including reports, recommendations, and facts. You can also check out Charity Navigator or Guidestar to see if your nonprofit is listed.

Action: What are thoughts about giving? Please share in the comments below. Merry Christmas! 

Tow Truck Legos

Are your financial goals off track? Credit Ricecracker.

I have noticed that there are certain activities that propel your financial goals, especially in the first 90 days.  The first 90 days are crucial for gaining momentum and establishing success.

When you are in a rut, sometimes it takes drastic measures to get unstuck. These are 10 activities I suggest and have used before to meet financial goals:

1. Unplug the TV and put it in the closet– This will give you more time and will literally unplug the negativity and fear coming from the media. [I don’t Need No Stinkin’ TV]

2. Exercise– Exercising will help you reduce stress and also give you success in your physical life.  As you gain success in one area of life, you’ll gain confidence in other areas. [Pump Iron and Pump Up Your Wages]

3. Help Someone– You may think you have it bad, but find someone who has it worse off than yourself and help them somehow.  It will make you realize that your situation isn’t all that bad, plus you’ll spread hope.

4. Be Thankful– List 3 things you are thankful for each day.  As you practice being thankful in the morning, it will help you to look for positivity throughout the day.

5. Read Positive Books– replace the negativity of the media with books that carry a positive message.  Try reading authors like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Norman Vincent Peale, Dan Miller or other inspirational authors.

6. Pray– Recognizing that God is in control and has a plan is a must.  He wants to carry your burdens and walk with you through your ‘valley of the shadow of death.’

7. Wake up Early-  You ever wonder how the farmer gets so much done? It’s because he wakes up early and starts working before dark.

8. Work Hard- It’s time to sweat and start that business, sell stuff, or pick up that second job. It’s time to get busy.

9. Ask for Help– You can’t do this alone. You need friends and family.  Reach out. Phone home. Dial a friend. Go to church. Ask for help.

10. Make a cup of coffee/tea and sit in silence Sit in silence and enjoy the moment away from you tough situation.

How do you handle tough financial situations?