I have learned so much from the Pokémon games that have been able to baton pass into real life. Here are just five of the lessons I have learned from the game and how I see they pertain to personal finances.
In the game, we meet a lot of people. We talk to everyone because we don’t know who is going to be the one to give us a special item, trade a pokémon or introduce us to other characters. Through this networking, we meet very important people. Before we know it, we’re chatting with the president of Devon Corp., the makers of most of the specialty pokéballs, about his son. It is so flattering to learn that these VIPs have already heard about us and have been looking forward to our meeting!
In real life, the process is much the same. Networking is important because everyone in an industry knows everyone else. This is also why networking is one of the best ways to get job interviews. Most of the jobs I have interviewed for were thanks to someone I knew. Networking helps get our quick feet in the door and gives whoever interviews us a tinted lens based on the people we know. We never know who around us, at any minute of any day, that is hiring or can help us get a job, so we should be polite, professional and on our best behavior at all times.
In the game, we need to teach a Pokémon the move Cut by using the Hidden Machine HM01. Outside of battles, we need to cut down small trees and cut back bushes that stand as barriers in our path and grow back by the time we return. We need to cut the plants back everytime we go through certain routes and forests. There are some places where cutting the plants back provide a shortcut to get through the area quicker. Do we really need to cut them back? No, but if we do we’ll get there faster. Then there are the plants that we cut back to gain access to something or someone. This one-time cut allows us to grab an item or chatter with the person and never think about making that cut again.
In real life, Starbucks and eating out are common “plants” that I hear about people cutting back to make progress on their paths. I like these two examples because that spending usually grows back after the goal is met. Just like the trees and bushes, it’s not a problem when they grow back. If they get in our way again, we simply cut them back until we have reached our next goal.
In the game, saving protects our hours of game data from being wiped out by a dead AA or lithium-ion battery. The feeling is a dark void when we realize that we didn’t save once during a four-hour gaming session. It also provides a great way to reset from the saved point when we want to retry after something didn’t work out. I developed this habit as a youngster. I'd save right before a gym battle or battling a legendary pokémon just in case.
In real life, saving money can help protect us from accidents and allow for resetting. Instead of losing my bill money when I sliced my finger open, I was happy that I had some saved emergency money. When I had a night out on the town and spent a little more than wanted, it was nice to be able to reset my checking account the next morning.
Same Species but Different Stats
In the game, no two pokémon are exactly alike, even if they are the same species. The game has interesting DNA-like mechanics that adjust how individual pokémon grow. Just because two Pokémon are the same species doesn’t mean they have the same stats.
Let’s look at golem to help me illustrate. The rock type Pokémon is known for its physical strengths in attack and defense and its weakness in special defense and speed. Any fast water type Pokémon could probably defeat it quickly.
Now let’s look at a gentle golem and an impish golem. These two golems both cover the basics of why a trainer would want a golem on their team, but both offer different advantages over the other. The gentle golem has a much weaker physical defense than the impish golem, but the gentle golem has a stronger special defense for defending against water types. The impish golem’s special attack is extremely low which is insignificant if the golem has only physical attacks. Now it’s up to the trainer to determine which advantages they want on their team.
In real life, different companies in the same field, or "species", have different stats. Every bank account, credit card or investment company has different advantages and disadvantages. Sure, the stats don't really matter as long as we are using something, but I find learning about their stats helps take my Financial Pokémon Team to the next level. I usually start researching their stats on Nerdwallet. Once I have done all of my research, I determine what advantages I want to use in order to strengthen my Financial Pokémon Team and make my decision.
Take Advantage of Free Stuff
In the game, you get a lot for free. Pokémon Centers offer free Pokémon health care. I often feel foolish when I just used a hyper potion to restore my Pokémon’s hp to discover there was a Pokémon Center right around the corner. Berry plots are everywhere to grow more berries for free. Every day it seems there are free lotteries and pokémon contests to enter that offer free prizes and entertainment. The new Poké Pelago adds even more free opportunities.
In real life, there is the same amount of free opportunities. Free flu shots and free STD screenings are available in most cities and some towns. There are free giveaways and contests locally and online that only require showing up. Museums, parks, and the occasionally movie theater offer events for free entertainment. Smartphone apps and websites offer a lot for free too. Personal capital, Mint, and YNAB are great free options for assistance with personal finances. Libraries are a great source of free entertainment like books and movies. Some libraries also hold free classes, offer free internet access and free video game rentals.
I think these five lessons are a great start to a long list of Pokémon taught personal finance lessons. Which of these lessons resonates with you and why? What are other lessons that you think should have made this list?