Fording the river: Financial Lessons from The Oregon Trail

The Oregon TrailIf you like video games or you’re just a kid at heart (Like me!) and you’re in the Louisville area you should definitely check out the Louisville Arcade Expo sometime. This annual weekend event is packed full of nostalgia from floor-model televisions to every gaming system imaginable, not to mention more pinball machines in one room than I’ve ever seen in my life.

The honey and I made it out this past Saturday with some pals and soaked it all in. I waited for more than a half hour to get my chance at fighting a snakebite, repairing a wagon wheel and hunting for food for my party of 5 on the great Oregon Trail.

00100sPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180303153936509_COVERThe Oregon Trail can teach us a lot about our finances. Find me ONE person who would put money on fording a deep river. Ever. Yeah, it’s fun to see if you can make it (You can’t!), but when you lose 3 oxen, all your clothes and 300lbs of food, it ain’t no joke!

So why then do we ford the river of our finances? Why do we swipe our cards and cross our fingers until we see “Approved” pop across that tiny little screen? Why do we put off having a savings accounts just hoping we can float through one more day without an emergency popping up? Why do we go to work each and every day, work our booties off yet don’t stop and plan for the future and our retirement?

Here’s what my most recent adventure out West taught me about life:

Money Matters

As the group before me finished up and successfully crossed the entirety of The Oregon Trail without casualties, I made a comment about not being able to follow their solid performance to which one girl replied. “Be a banker! You’ll have all the money!” This game is so real guys, I mean money talks even when you’re riding shotgun in a wagon with 4 other people and fighting off Cholera. If you want to be successful you need to have cash to back it up.

Stock Up

Be mindful of your supplies. Take care of your family, make sure they have clothes, food and rest. Don’t let them starve or die of dysentery because you didn’t prepare for emergencies. (See more about emergency funds here.)

Make It Happen

At one point my food supply was zilch. We were starvin’ up in that wagon. So I went to trade but this lady wanted to give me clothes. I had clothes! So I hit “N” and the return button. I don’t want her stinky clothes! I need food, woman! So then I went to trade again and BAM! old man Jenkins was ready to hand over the goods if I gave him a couple wagon tongues. I brought extra so I had no problem closing the deal. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you’re struggling in your financial game of life what do you have to trade? Do you have a skill you could offer to bring in more money to put food on your table? Any extra wagon wheels lying around in your garage you could sell to help pay that medical debt you’re trying to shake?

Enjoy the Ride

On this great adventure there were plenty of struggles. Broken arms, bandits in the night and the occasional fever. But I did manage to lead my party to plenty of landmarks. Another piece of advice in this game is to ALWAYS rest at the landmarks if you want to make it to the finish. How often do we rush past the landmarks in life? One thing Shannon and I learned very early on our path to dumping debt was to celebrate each milestone. If we paid off a $50 debt or a $3,000 one, that was cause for a good time! Are you doing this in your life? Are you stopping to take in the sites and enjoy the moment of slashing another creditor? You should be! It’s a journey and you should enjoy it.

We are now on our fifth Financial Peace University class and just like in the game, not everyone makes it through the entire journey. Let me tell ya, the game didn’t end well. All my pioneer travelers set forth to the great wagon train in the sky and just like that, the game was over in less than the time I waited to sit down! There is one big difference in Oregon Trail and the Financial Peace Trail. If you fall off the wagon and make a silly spending mistake, you can hop right back on and keep going. Learn from the mistakes, bring more supplies, steady the rations and before you know it you’ll be there.

Me @ Arcade Expo

Jacket: Mine | Top: Abercrombie & Fitch Similar Here | Pants: Old Navy | Bag: Fossil Similar Here



8 thoughts on “Fording the river: Financial Lessons from The Oregon Trail

  1. Nicole of What Nicole Wore says:

    Sounds like a fun event; Oregon Trail was my favorite game as a kid! I never really thought of it as having a bunch of life lessons, but you definitely found some good ones.


  2. Holly Jo says:

    Oh my goodness!! I loved this game growing up! I love the analogy you made between Oregon Trail and the world today. It really is very similar. Save some money and stock up on supplies just in case!


  3. Laura @ Mommy Dearest says:

    I loved playing this game when I was younger. I love the analogy you used. It’s so very true. Something I need to work on too. My Savings account is horrible. I will definitely be passing this on to friends. Thanks for the great read!


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