Game comes to life in the University Union

Marissa Montoya

Life is all fun and games as innocent children trading hundreds of thousands of paper dollars and hoping to pick the rock star career and $100,000 salary cards. On Monday, Oct. 26, Sacramento State students were able to play a real-life version of the board game using more practical career choices, salaries, expenses and life events.

The Game of Life is a childhood favorite for many as a board game that allows players to travel along the road of life and experience milestones such as graduating college, choosing a career, getting married, buying a house and having children. The fun comes with landing on spaces that include pay day, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, winning money in a photo contest and traveling the world, among many others.

Students began by choosing a career. The coordinators of the activity would then calculate a realistic estimated monthly income based on current data for each career choice. The students traveled down the line of tables with representatives available to help calculate a realistic estimate for each category of the “life”.

The object of the game is to compete against other players to see who finishes with the most money after encountering life’s curves and speed bumps such as paying taxes, playing the stock market, going through a mid-life crisis and being caught uninsured when a hurricane hits.

The various categories in the real-life game included: taxes, housing and utilities, transportation, student needs, wants and taking a spin at the “wheel of fortune”. Food, health insurance, apparel and services, personal care products and services, and savings were in the “need” category. The “want” category consisted of extras such as saving for a vacation, having a pet, cable, and data coverage on your cell phone plan.

“Everyone has had a really good attitude about this and has talked about how much it has helped them and how much fun it is,” said Christina Day, a financial representative in the student financial services office. “This is all just bringing it all right in front of you in black and white so you have an idea of what you’re spending your money on. It is life. You can get a really good of what to expect.”

Day said that towards the end of the two hour event she had seen a pretty even amount of students finishing the game with at least some money left over after monthly expenses are deducted from their given salaries. However, Day added, that many of the students who came out as ‘winners’ might have been a little too modest with their itemization of expenses.

Gloria Perez, a graduate student working towards her degree in educational leadership, finished the game with $1,310 each month after all expenses were deducted from her gross income of $5,700. Taxes alone drop her gross monthly income to $4,750.

“I think it puts life into perspective, and how much you need to earn in order to have a good life,” said Perez.

One important category most college students have to account for are student loans.

Jennifer White, a financial aid analysis representative at Sac State said that the estimated monthly loan payments for students who played the game of life ranged from $60 to $330. Of course, some students might have higher payments, and some might have none at all.

“Students over-estimate the income they think they are going to make and they’re not taking into consideration all the things that will come up, and they’re not putting that money aside,” said White.

Her advice to students is to look at what they have to see what they can afford and budget their money accordingly.

“You can always contact your lender to make arrangements. They can defer it, they can file a forbearance and they can also reduce your payment depending on what your income is,” explained White. “With the federal loans they can do a lot for you. You just have to make sure that you contact them versus ignoring them and then it goes into default.”

Sitting down to write out a budget can be a daunting task, especially if the starting amount is not very high. It would be much more fun if real life were a little more like the game of Life