Take a Ride on the Reading

800px-German_Monopoly_board_in_the_middle_of_a_gameAs Philip E. Orbanes suggests, there are life lessons to be gained from the Monopoly board game. Besides presiding over the U.S. and World Monopoly championships, Orbanes is also the author of Monopoly, Money, and You. The lessons are fairly obvious: diversification of investments, cash management, the ability to negotiate, and so forth—you can gain these insights from your Fidelity or Charles Schwab financial adviser. But what those advisers cannot do is answer the more practical questions … about the actual game of Monopoly.

What properties have the best return on investment? Orbanes writes in the Wall Street Journal,

Every property in Monopoly has a different likelihood of earning a return (based on how frequently players land on it, its initial cost and cost of development, and its return per level of development). The green properties, for example, are awful; the oranges and reds are superior.

The railroads, because there are four of them, are the most visited set in the game, but they can’t be developed, so they aren’t enough alone for a win. They can provide you with cash, however, and that’s what you need to develop a killer color group—just as high-earning investments like utility funds can give you money to augment your growth-oriented holdings.

One crucial point: There’s a huge difference in rent between the two- and three-house level on any property. This is the game’s investment “sweet spot”—something I look for in life as well…. Even Park Place and Boardwalk have won, in the 1979 U.S. championship—but that’s a rarity. There are only two of them, and they cost a lot to develop. The three-property orange group, by contrast, gets landed on more than any other color group (because players who go to jail must pass through or over them upon exiting), and it can be developed at a reasonable price.

If you’re as intrigued as I am (and I’ve always favored the orange group!), get the book. Go ahead and order it from that Amazon search engine on the right. Hint, hint.

Photo of German Monopoly board by Horst Frank at the German-language Wikipedia.

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