5 Things Video Games Taught Me About Money

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Finances, Tips 'N Tricks

My family wasn’t rich. They held ordinary jobs: my dad worked at a fan manufacturing plant while my mom was a nurse’s aid at a retirement home. Mom and Dad believed in leveraging their children towards the best path possible. They pushed my brother and I into a private school (which was pretty costly) and also controlled the family’s spending.

As such, we weren’t spoiled; we had to work for our wants by showing our grades. It was a very good motivator, but it didn’t teach me a thing about money. It taught me hard work led to better things in life, but I never understood that even that would fail me (at least now I know it works about 80% of the time!). Since my parents were in control of the family spending, we had to ask for what we wanted and depending on the request, they would grant it. Most of the time, I learned to be crafty and picked free, if not, cheap alternatives. It doesn’t seem like I was set up to be financially educated.

However, my parents thought it was a good idea to get us some video games! Granted, some video games weren’t meant to teach you stuff, but I would argue that you do learn skills that you can apply to real life later on. Scoff at me all you want, but there were some moments in a game that actually shaped who I became later on. What actually matters is applying what you learned now.

Here are 5 things that video games taught me about money!

1) Video games taught me how to save.

When I first got into MMORPGs, there were many items that I wanted to get. However, being new, I was just another broke n00b! Panhandling never really worked; as everyone else was in the same boat and they all gave you the evil eye if you tried to do any of that. So I started to run around and do menial tasks, like crafting, questing and punching monsters to earn enough gold to get some of the best weapons in game. It even got to the point where I became an extreme penny pincher where I abstained from upgrading my weapons and armor just to get to the desired weapon at the cost of my time, money and sanity! (A lesson on that later.)

The proudest moment of my saving career was Runescape (now Runescape Classic) where I saved enough for a Rune Battleaxe, one of the strongest weapons at the time. This also lead to next point…

2) There are scammers everywhere.

I was so proud of that Rune Battleaxe. What happened?

Someone came up to me and told me they wanted to check out the weapon. Dumb and young ten-year-old me accepted to do so. You had to actually carry through with the trade, as there was no way to cancel or close the window without accepting it. So I accidentally traded away that Battleaxe for no money and watched in tears as that person logged off immediately after. I never saw them again. I also promptly decided to quit the game right then and there.

That was a hard and painful lesson to bear and I became super suspicious of trading and dealing with other people in-game and it carried into real life. No wonder I became an anti-social prick. A few years later I found out about how people impersonated the government in order to scam innocent people out of their money. In fact, I was the target for one such phone call! That really hardened my resolve to guard myself from any incoming scams by raising awareness and keeping up with the times.

3) If you want to get far, don’t be afraid to spend it.

“In order to make money, you have to spend it.” That was a lesson learned when I first got into the auction house game.

Remember how I said I was an extreme penny pincher? It got to the point where I kept on dying all the time and I was losing time, experience AND money (because of repairs and potions) because I was not geared for my level. Once I upgraded my gear, leveling became 100% easier. By being able to survive and kill things faster, I was able to increase my cash flow from what it was considerably.

I actually ran into the this problem in MapleStory. Like most Korean MMOs, where you were leveling was very dependent on your gear. It didn’t mean anything that you managed to hit level 100; if you were beating on a monster and all you did was deal 200 damage after one skill, you were doing something very wrong. If you had armor appropriate for your level, it would’ve saved you from instant death. Instead, you would’ve left that encounter with just a sliver of health left! This was very useful when you traveled from one point to another, where death could mean losing months worth of progress! (ONE percent back in those days could take a month to acquire at 100+! I don’t know how FangBlade did it, he was the first person to reach 200 in the game.) Upgrading both weapons and armor meant that I could a) survive longer (and save money on repairs and potions) and b) kill more things and get more money and experience.

Hey, if I can come out of the zombie apocalypse with $1.7k, we should be all right.

What does this mean in real life? Save for completely apocalyptic scenarios (see above), people thought that the way to go was to make sure that money coming in was equivalent to money going out. If you had any basic understanding of retiring, people kept on saying that all you had to do was to reduce the amount of money going out and put that money into a bank account. (You’re more likely to work until you were forced to retire at that rate.) The smart ones were thinking like this: “If I had to spend something, make sure I get something in return!” This was why those people were rich, they bought something like stocks, or real estate (kind of a weapon for you RPG junkies) early on and they were getting cash on return and that value continuously grew. If it stopped being profitable, they would sell and buy something else that would grow, only to repeat the process again. Most smart people knew that they could maximize growth if they used it for as long as they could, and then sell it as soon as they realized the effort to hold/maintain was not worth it anymore. They did not buy into the hype of sell, sell, sell immediately. (Believe me, I ended up selling my old armor/weapons once I got my new set. They just took up valuable space. The money I got back went towards my next set.)

If you applied this concept from a video game to real life, this was essentially investing 101. People thought that video games were wasted time, but only if you decided not to place any value in it. And here was a lesson I wish I had applied sooner in life:

4) Time is Money

Time is ticking
Time is Ticking.

This lesson did not really resonate with me until I decided to learn about multiple income streams. In real life that could mean having investments, working at your job, or even having a side hustle! In a MMO, I would be utilizing my time to make stuff for other people, or punching monsters. Other people I knew used this time to sell their prowess in mechanics to help others clear content that they would not have the time for.

What I didn’t realize was that I was already doing that while playing MMORPGs, where I was playing the market, buying and selling materials (whether full processed goods, or materials for others). Guild Wars 2 introduced the concept to me as I initially thought the only way to make money was to grind out certain dungeons or other instances. The auction house (or player’s market) could be quite a lucrative source of income if played right. I had to figure out fast what my niche was and capitalize on it. If my market crashed, I also had to learn to adapt very quickly and move production elsewhere.

I soon learned that I could flip items by gathering materials and craft the finished product themselves. I later learned that there is some profit to be made by buying the work others have done for you (although at a cost) and doing the same, which ate into your profits. The most important lesson in this for me was that it saved me time! This gave me some valuable skills that can be applied later on, and I’m not just talking about the skills that you needed to create the items in the first place.

If you did spreadsheets to make your in-game income work, why not with real money? If you didn’t like doing a certain job, you could always outsource it to someone else for a cost. Your time was better spent doing a) things that you liked doing and b) created value, either in happiness or your worth to you.

Black Desert Online was possibly the best example of this concept. A lot of good players knew that the best money is grinding hours at a time at a money-making spot. The highest earning players knew that there were ways to supplement their income by outsourcing the work and used their idle time doing something the game allowed them to, like fishing or processing. When they logged in early in the day, they sent their produce to the auction house, where they earned much more selling to other players in need. They made their money during their offline time, but depending on how much time they spent in the game, they also earned grinding at certain locations. This process had a lot of time investment upfront; if someone invested hours into a life-skill, they were rewarded with a chance to receive higher tier processed goods, which meant more money. In my case, my time was spent grinding whenever I felt like it while I made my millions offline processing the trees my workers gathered for me. All of my Discord friends saw me do this every day (if I’m not playing another game, that is).

Anyway, whatever you decided to do with your time is important. This meant you now have more time to spend it with what is more important to you whether that is your family, gaming, traveling or making even more money! You can always get more money, but your time on this earth is limited. Spend it wisely.

5) You are allowed to fail.

This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. Mostly because it was much easier said than done. In real life, starting the moment you went to school, you were consistently punished for failing. You failed a test? Time-out for you. The teacher segregated all the students with a gold star and those who didn’t based on their performance. The treatment difference was real. I dreaded talking to my parents about my grades. To survive, I had to learn how to get good and meet those requirements that my teachers and my parents set for me, and sometimes they wouldn’t even tell me what was absolutely needed. There was also the other end of the spectrum where helicopter parents swooped to save their children in distress from the possibility of failure. It was a robbed experience. It wasn’t fair and as a result it made me more hesitant and even fearful of trying new things.

Then came the video games. I lost lives trying to learn the right timing to reach that next jump to save the Princess. Every time I watched Leon in Resident Evil 4 die a very gruesome death meant that I needed to get better at a reaction sequence or learn how to avoid the baddies altogether. The game simply told you what you were doing wrong and if you were successful, you were rewarded with more progress or in some cases, shiny treasure! No weird gimmicks (aside from mechanics), no weird sudden restarts and you definitely didn’t have to start all over each time (the only time you did that is when you lost all your lives). There were not a lot of things that gave you instant success when you first tried it (unless you used Gameshark, of course).

No matter how you fail, the game allowed you to keep playing as long you keep within the defined rules. Riskology, a blog for introverts, says that the most creative things happened when there were defined rules but still enough room to let your mind wander. This was where you get to explore and experiment to your heart’s content with no backlash. Except, for the fact that you messed up with some expected rules set right from the start. Finding out what worked and what doesn’t then becomes a fun and interesting venture.

I wish we were taught that and even allowed to fail from when we were kids. We needed to learn in our own way through experience what was best for us. It was the best way a person can become better. We were not prepared to embrace that, and now we, the current generation and our descendants are paying the price. That thought was terrifying and sometimes suffocating. I wish I was able to learn that much sooner, even though I was a blind practitioner from the beginning. I just never learned or applied it until now.

Not being able to try something new and creative means that I wouldn’t be able to discover what would work for me and that innovation for me can mean a better, richer life for myself. The easiest way of thinking like this is to think that Life is a Video Game.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Five very important lessons I learned just from playing video games. How I learned these and when I learned them was when I started to do self-reflection. Actually, now that I think about it, the military actually taught me an important lesson about life: If you treat everything like a game, then you can expect better results in it.

No matter how you treat this game, whether you casually relax and hang back, or unleash your predatory competitive side, you can see success no matter where you go. The cards are in your hand now, it’s just laying it out in the right order and in the right sequence based on your internal game plan.

What did you learn about money from video games? Definitely leave a comment below and post this question on your social media of choice with #GamersOnFIRE. 🙂

ahh big spending!

Don’t Ever Regret Your Spending. I Certainly Didn’t. + BONUS: Statue Unboxing VOD

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Finances

The last month I’ve been scrambling to pay off a rather pricey, yet expected expense. I pre-ordered an amazing set of Solid Snake statues made by First 4 Figures almost two years back, which turned out to be nearly $2000 and it finally arrived! The actual panic wasn’t really about me not having enough money, it was more about reshuffling my liquid stash to fully pay it off (without being forced to withdraw from my investments…More on that in a bit.). Well, that and my whole reserves is gone. It turned out to be some great streaming material too, as I decided to do an Unboxing Stream.

So why am I talking about expensive statues? Am I just flexing about how I can afford it? Not really. What I would like to say is: no matter how expensive an item is, don’t feel bad for buying it.

Life is too short to limit yourself to be like a monk.

But it is also too short to enslave yourself to the costly whims of pleasure and social expectations.

Changing the Mindset

I ask myself these questions whenever I am about to make a purchase:

  1. Can I afford it in liquid cash right now? (ie: I actually have the funds in my bank.)
  2. What can the item/service offer me in value?
  3. Will I be able to see a continuous return in value as time goes on?

In the words of Robert Kiyosaki, writer of Rich Dad, Poor Dad: “Questions open the mind. Statements close the mind.”

Asking these questions make you think. Saying that I can’t afford it makes me unable to think of ways to improve my current situation. Every single item you buy should always be a process of prioritization.

I always prioritize in making growth, whether in making me better a better person or making my finances bigger. After that, it’s about things that make my life easier which is a higher priority than my own enjoyment. I’m the kind of person who will find joy in min-maxing. That is, in layman’s terms, minimizing the amount of effort I put into to get a large amount of gains. I try to optimize everything that I do, whether it be finances, getting to work or even trying to maximize my build for PvP in Guild Wars 2. Lastly, if I buy this item, it should be able to provide me whatever function it is set to do for a long time. This is why I hate buying disposables, I end up throwing it out after I finish using them. (Food and gross things are exceptions.)

If any of the above three questions aren’t met, I usually don’t buy it. Unless I want to indulge myself sometimes. If you’re in the business of content creation, you have the nice bonus of indulging yourself and investing into your content stream! (At least in this niche anyway.)

Can I afford it?

thinking

Be honest with yourself. If the thing you’re buying means you need to pull the card out, stop and think.

Rule #1 of being financially smart: Pay yourself.

Rule #2 of being financially smart: Don’t make more debt if you have to.

If you know you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it! If you say you can pay it off later, especially if you put it on the card, that’s fine. Make sure you pay off the entire balance of the card before your next statement! This way you can get those sweet reward points and not owe the card company a single cent! This rule tends to go for most type of loans (with the exception of mortgages, but I won’t cover that here).

Interest rates are only getting higher, so be aware that paying minimum payments are not enough anymore! You have to tackle debt aggressively otherwise it will drain your funds even more.

Wait, why did we delve into rule #2 first before rule #1?

Aside from credit cards and debt draining your resources, one has to make a living and to invest and grow. I like to focus on keeping more money in your pocket, so that means I like reduce the amount of deductions pulling from my cash flow.

However, all of those deductions mean nothing if you actually have no money in your stash! Always stash away a bit of your cash from your paycheck every month. You can use that later, maybe for a purchase or better yet, an investment of some sort. Reaching FIRE is pretty easy, but you have to be really honest with yourself and be prepared to use a lot of self-discipline.

If you decided to use your money anyway (after determining that you won’t be in debt), let’s question the value.

What value do I see?

If I can increase my money stash, then I’ll do it in a heartbeat. This can range from:

  • more cash flow (investments!)
  • as a content creator: more content = more value
  • increase skill set and knowledge through education
  • increase influence = more potential customers

If it makes my life easier, or if it greatly entertains me, then I have to weigh out the pros and cons. This is entirely subjective and based on what your priorities and/or values are.

Let’s take a car for example:

Pros:

  • conveniently get around
  • longer range
  • carry more stuff
  • faster
  • look increasingly badass (depends on vehicle of choice)

Cons:

  • pollute the environment
  • makes me lazy
  • depreciates in value
  • big freakin’ price tag!
  • become a weapon of mass destruction for everyone around me and get jailed for it
  • there are as many stupid drivers as there are stupid pedestrians/cyclists
  • No, this is not Grand Theft Auto
Please don't do this.
Seriously, don’t do this while driving.

Even after evaluating that I had more negative points than positive, I found that my most negative points still overpower the positive ones (after all, you can have less points but they strongly resonate with you!). With this in mind, I would not buy a car in the near future.

Use your best judgement here. There is no right or wrong answer, but you have to think really hard and be honest if you need it or not. Own up to your decision and proceed.

Can I keep on getting the value out of it?

If you can get more of the same wonderful thing, will you jump up and down for it? I know I would.

If I had to throw it out right after, I’d be a bit more hesitant to buy it. It feels like a waste.

It means I have to buy it again at the same price. That really bites; I would rather use it as much as I an before I have to dispose it.

Well, that’s not really true for games though. Video games nowadays tend to be varying about its quality whether if it’s in the story or in the gameplay. The amount of hours played don’t mean anything anymore; you can keep on playing a crappy game like it’s a terrible job. A really expensive Triple A title could perform abysmally in comparison to a $5 Indie Game (I’m looking at you Anthem…)

Caveat: These impulsive buys of questionable value can be indulged upon once in a while. It’s like getting coffee from Starbucks! It’s super expensive to get coffee there! If you can get the same value by doing something else (or buying something that can let you enjoy it at a lesser cost), like making your own coffee. Think about what you’re going to get and what your value would be.

Do my Snake statues fit the bill?

My wonderful Solid Snake statues are definitely a single purchase. They are definitely oversized and overpriced paperweights. However to me, I get a lot of entertainment and personal value for the inclusion of these awesome statues to my video game den.

Does it really fit my three question criteria? Definitely yes. It’s questionable in some places, but I really don’t have to justify the purchase to anyone, or really regret it.

Remember Rule #1 of being financially smart? I broke that. Sort of.

I paid myself already, as I have already set up automatic payments to my investments (this way, I don’t forget!). Ideally, I wanted to invest into myself more (like about 60% of my paycheck), but on that day when I pre-ordered it, I decided to splurge.

I reshuffled all of my funds to make sure I paid the card in full. I knew these things are a prime collectors’ item when I do decide to sell the statues, but really the real value is making it an amazing part of my video game den. The statues are so well made that I can continuously look at the statue and admire the high quality craftsmanship behind it.

A nice bonus is that it has provided some additional content for my streaming channel!

Check out the VOD on my channel on DLive! And if you need permission to not regret your purchases, you’re now armed with the knowledge. With that, I can safely order you to do so. Captain’s Orders. 😉

WealthSimple – An Easy Way to Start Investing With Little Money

Posted 16 CommentsPosted in Finances

Earlier I had mentioned that investing your money is the start of becoming financially independent. Making your money work for you is the best way of spending your money. If your money is working for you, you will have more time to play video games.

But Murasa, I have no idea how to invest my money! Here’s a simple way of getting started.

** Note: This post contains a referral link that lets me get some nice benefits when you sign up. They don’t add any additional costs in order to accommodate me, the price you see is what you pay and I wouldn’t be recommending it if I don’t like it. Anyway, more info over at my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Introducing WealthSimple

WealthSimple is a robo-investor that manages your investments. It diversifies your investments into many, many stocks. Traditionally, a person who knows way more about money than you or me tells your money where to go, but with robo-investing, a robot does this for you. Basically, by putting your money into many little egg baskets which runs around and does stuff for companies that own those baskets, your money is passively earning income! That sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? You also have the benefit of not talking to another person, which means more time playing games.

Usually, you start by going to your local bank branch and tell them that you want to open up an investment account. They’ll book you an appointment with one of their financial advisers and tell you what you can do. Their advice is pretty solid until you realize that they follow the old tried and true thinking around sticking to your good 9-5 job to get enough money to retire. Following this means you’re going to retire at 65! That’s not what you want to do!

I don’t deny that they give really good advice, but you have to also realize that they’re also working for the bank. The bank is interested in taking some of your hard earn bucks for their own! We want to really minimize this! WealthSimple actually minimizes this by charging you only their management fees; they don’t charge you for withdrawals, transfers or if you forget to put money in your new account (or close it after transferring out, leaving $0). In short, they only charge you 0.5% to your account based on how much money is in there. It’s so cheap it’s relatively free*.

The Stock Exchange is pretty complicated. I can’t game that.

* Well, that’s again based on how much is in your portfolio; which by the time you’re financially independent, this is literally pennies for you. Also, your money is working for you so you need to invest some to get some. Here is WealthSimple’s Management fee breakdown. Also, clicking on my referral link saves you from these fees for your first year! Talk about a deal!

Unfortunately, WealthSimple is currently only available in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. They do have a mailing list to let people know that they’re opening up business in your country!

If you’re in any of the countries above, let’s talk about getting started.

How to Get Started

First step is to make an account on WealthSimple using your email. Follow the prompts; they will require you to input your employment and your social insurance number (or taxpayer information number, whatever they use for taxes).

Once you create and confirm your account, then you will need to start answering their questionnaire about you. This includes stating how much debt you have, how much you earn, what will you do if the market crashes, etc. This will help WealthSimple figure out what your account will look like and the type of investing style. They will also go through the trouble of linking your bank accounts with your WealthSimple account if you provide them your information.

This is pretty simple and easy to do from your couch on your phone, or having it done on your second screen while you sit in respawn after you died in DOTA 2. They even have a mobile app on both Google Play and on iTunes!

You will be eventually greeted to a screen where you will be asked to create an account type. You can open all the accounts, but it’s best to start with one. Since I’m in Canada, I will recommend opening up an RRSP and a TFSA. Canadians, please look forward for my reasoning in a later post! If you’re in the US or UK, please do some research on what type of accounts are available. Fortunately, WealthSimple has provided Investing 101 pages for Canadians, Americans and Brits.

As always, I highly suggest doing your own research before deciding upon an account.

Now Give your Money to a Robot and Not Worry About It

Now that you have your account set up it’s time to tell the robot to invest your money into the great beyond. Your bot at WealthSimple works for you and mostly you. (We just have to pay the management fees as discussed above.)

It should look like this when done.

Because we’re gamers, and we tend to handle money kind of frivolously, I will recommend doing an automated approach. WealthSimple can be set up to automatically withdraw money from your bank account at a timely interval and at a set amount you tell it to. As long you have money in your bank account, WealthSimple will withdraw your amount from the account and tell your dollars to do work. Easy!

If you also wanted to transfer an account over, that is also available to you. Not only that, if you do transfer another account over to WealthSimple, WealthSimple handles the transfer process very easily! And at no cost! They’ll do it for you! They can expedite the process (and with less errors) if you provide your information about the account to them.

It’s pretty easy to save!

WealthSimple proves to be a pretty simple way for people start investing. Especially with no initial investment, you can easily do it from the simple comfort of your couch. (Most financial advisers that aren’t with a bank tend to tell you that you need a really large portfolio (like $100 000) before they deal any business with you and banks charge you too much.) Once you set up automated transfers, you are well on your way of being free to play video games.

It’s just getting started in the right direction is hard.

Just in case you missed it, here’s my referral link to WealthSimple. If you sign up with my link, you will have your money managed for your first year for free (for real, no caveats)! Those fees do add up, and will multiply the longer you go. I’m just paying it forward and I wish you guys success.

EDIT: I found out that my link gives Americans $100 bonus for signing up. Please confirm in the comments below! For you Canucks and Brits, you still get your year free if you click!