Our Next Project: A Personal Finance Education RPG

08 Apr 2015

Eric Fram

This article was originally posted on ZippyBrain.com on April 8th, 2015. Link.

After a hiatus, we are finally back to work on our next project! In the past we have focused on environmental education with Earth Day Carol and on wildfire prevention with Fight the Fire. Now, we are attacking the challenging world of personal finance education.

We don’t yet have an official name for this new project, but our plan is to create a turn-based strategy / RPG game where you assume the role of a character with a set of financial goals. It will be your job to manage that character’s personal income, expenses, lifestyle choices, and investment strategies in order to achieve those goals. We understand that personal finance can a simultaneously dry and intimidating topic, so we are taking special care to make it both approachable and fun. We have the financial and app-development expertise to bring this project to life, so we’re pretty excited to get started!

Why This Matters

America is in the midst of an ongoing personal finance crisis. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that more than half of American households will not save enough money to maintain their living standards post-retirement, and the Employee Benefits Research Institute has found that about 20% of households in the top half of the income distribution will run out of money in retirement!

Statistics about retirement reflect the huge challenges regular people face in their day-to-day financial decisions. Students applying to college are poorly-equipped to make life-changing decisions about their student-loans.  Aspiring homeowners take on mortgages that they can’t afford. The average american household has accumulated more than fifteen-thousand dollars in high-interest, difficult to repay credit card debt. Americans frequently buy cars they can’t afford. Certainly, we recognize that personal circumstances can make some of these situations unavoidable for some people. In general though, these issues are the result of poor financial literacy amongst the general public. Perfectly smart people are hamstringing their financial success due to a lack of knowledge!

Even just a few key lessons can help people make hugely better decisions with their money. As one example, the amazing power of compound interest can reward people for saving even a relatively small amount of money early in their career. However, without an long-term outlook on what their money can do, many people make lifestyle decisions that don’t allow them to take advantage of this!

Our Plan

In future posts, we will get into more details about the lessons we plan to teach in our app (and how we will make those lessons fun). We’re still in the early stages and are working to distill personal finance concepts into addicting gameplay. Some of the topics we are currently planning to cover in the app are as follows:

  • Management of Housing Expenses (Rent vs. Buy, Budgeting, Housing Options)
  • Transportation Expenses (Cars vs. Other, Buy vs. Lease vs. Finance)
  • Retirement Investing (401k, IRA, Compounding Interest, Tax Benefits)
  • Regular Investing (Stocks, Bonds, Compounding Interest, Fees)
  • Debt Management (Mortgage, Credit Card Debt, Car Loans)

This list is not exhaustive, and might change a little bit as we get further into the development process. It provides a general overview of what we want this app to teach about. Each one of these line-items will likely get its own post in the coming weeks.

We totally understand if the idea of turning this into a game seems a little too abstract for now! In the near future we will start to post screenshots and more detailed gameplay descriptions. Please stay tuned to future updates both here on our blog and on our twitter, @ZippyBrain.