Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Angry Birds Can Teach Us About Personal Finance

I'm sure that most people, even if they haven't personally played Angry Birds, at least have heard of it.  I learned about it watching an interview with Jon Hamm on Conan.  A quick rundown for those who may not be familiar: The pigs have stolen the birds' eggs.  The birds are angry.  The pigs create various fortresses to protect themselves, and the angry birds launch themselves at those fortresses to destroy the pigs and reclaim their eggs.

It's a total time suck, and I'm really, really good at it.

As I was wasting away an evening recently, I realized that these angry birds actually do have a lot going for them that can actually be applied to the world of personal finance. Skeptical? Read on!

Be persistent:
The birds do not quit, and likewise, when I'm playing Angry Birds, I keep saying "just one more game..."  Persistence is obviously key in the world of personal finance because oftentimes paying off debt or saving for retirement seems like an insurmountable goal.  But once you start chipping away at the goal ever so slightly, you start noticing progress--debt is shrinking, balance is growing, and then it finally sinks in that what you're doing is paying off!
That little yellow bird is determined!
Know your strengths:
Each of the birds in Angry Birds has a unique talent.  Once you figure out what that talent is, you do better at the game.  Everyone has different talents that can be applied to personal finance as well.  If you're really organized, you can create and maintain a rock-solid budget; creative types have a knack for investing (I have found this to be true).  You may figure out that you're really good and cooking and re-purposing leftovers.  There are really any number of ways that we can each tap into our strengths to save and grow money, but we just have to figure it out.

I like the yellow and blue birds best, but sometimes you need the others!
If one strategy doesn't work, find one that does:
Maybe you make out your budget and think I'm only going to spend $100 a month on food!  Then you go to the grocery store and find that it's impossible to spend that little and not wind up with scurvy or some other 18th century malnutrition disease.  Always re-evaluate.  That's why monthly roundups are so important.  Take a look at your spending for the month, examine where the money went and determine whether it was just an expensive month for a particular need, or if you need to change some numbers around.

Get help from your friends:
The Angry Birds don't work alone and neither should anyone else!  That's why I love the blogosphere so much.  Maybe I haven't met a lot of the people who read my blog or whose blogs I read, but I feel like I know them, and I've learned so much over the years.  Sometimes all it takes to figure something out is just asking the right person, or having a conversation.

Examine the angles:
In order to beat most of the levels of Angry Birds, you have to hit your target just so.  We've all seen financial advisors who advise people to start saving even while they're paying down debt.  At first that seems crazy and counterproductive, but when you think about it from another perspective, you realize that if you focus solely on paying down your debt and then have a crisis of some kind--medical, car accident, house fire etc., you're completely wiped out again and all your hard work was for nothing.

Don't be afraid to try new things:
I certainly never thought I'd be eating as much barley as I have in the last year, but I tried it, I like it, and it's totally frugal!  Experiment with new foods, new budgeting tools, new ways to get around.  Just be open and look at personal finance as an adventure!
I'm not advocating you try to make an Angry Birds dress, like
the wife of a Rovio executive did, but it is a little awesome...
The Angry Birds know that it usually takes a number of them to take down a piggies' fortress, likewise, it takes a number of people working together to understand the ins and outs of personal finance.  For instance, your financial view of the world is significantly different when you are a 19-year-old vs. after age 30.  What you need to know changes.  As I advance in levels in Angry Birds, I often get stuck and can't figure out the trick to beat the level and move forward.  I know that nerdier people than me have created youtube videos explaining every way to beat every level.  As an individual forging your way through the world of personal finance, it helps to remember that there are nerdier people than you out there who know exactly what you need to know--find them.
The little blue birds break glass and ice!
If you decide that you want to waste hours and hours or your life playing Angry Birds, you can do it for free through google chrome.  But you've been warned.

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I also spend too much time playing this.