8 money lessons you can learn from The Sims

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™

Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

Published September 12, 2019 | 5 min read

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The Sims franchise has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling game series in history. The life-simulation video game allows you to create a virtual household of virtual people called “Sims,” who live and work in a virtual town. The possibilities for what your Sim can do and become are basically endless.

While there are plenty of differences between The Sims and real life, there are real financial lessons you can draw from the virtual game. Here are eight important money lessons from The Sims franchise.

1. There is no ‘rosebud’ in real life

In the world of The Sims, you can type in the cheat code “rosebud” and your Sim will receive an instant transfer of 1,000 Simeloens, the game’s unit of currency. There are no cheat codes in real life. The closest you can get to an out-of-nowhere windfall is the lottery.

While your newfound winnings may mean a new car or fancy dinner out, spending too much of your money at once can mean a snowball of debt. Not to mention taxes eat up almost half your initial winnings. If you do end up with a winning ticket (or happen upon a pile of cash) here’s how to handle it responsibly.

2. Additions to the family can deplete your household income

They can also tax your Sim’s sleep schedule. The same goes for real-life parents. Having a child can be a financially daunting task, costing an estimated $233,610 to raise a kid to age 17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But there are steps expecting parents can take to get their finances in order. Before anything else, sit down with your partner to map out your finances (our downloadable budgeting spreadsheet can help.)

3. Invest in security …

Burglars frequent The Sims more than what seems normal, but you could be without a TV (or other valuable item) if you don’t equip your home with a burglar alarm. The same goes for fires. Cooking accidents can set a Sim’s home ablaze, destroying furniture and potentially killing the Sim if they can’t get out of the house.

You can prepare your Sim’s home for any emergency the same you would protect your own, with a fire or burglar alarm. In real life, having these alarms gives you peace of mind when you’re away from home or asleep. Not to mention they can typically lower home insurance rates, along with other protective devices like deadbolts and cameras. Learn more about how to lower your rates.

4. … & death-proofing your backyard

Drowning is a common cause of death for both Sims and people. It’s one of the leading causes of death by unintentional injury in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Have a pool? Your homeowners insurance rates could also go up because pools are considered “attractive nuisances,” or hazardous conditions that might cause harm to children.

Lower your personal liability and keep accidents from happening by adding safety features, including a child safety fence, pool ladder and lights. Learn more about home pools and homeowners insurance here.

5. Stay on top of your bills

Depending on the edition of the Sims, your household will likely have to pay a regular bill that depends on your home’s value and household funds. In The Sims, Sims 2 and Sims 3, if bills aren’t paid by the end of the day, a repo man will come to take things from your home. In Sims 4, if your bills aren’t paid within 48 hours, your electricity will be shut off and appliances won’t work.

In reality, paying your bills two days late won’t result in a repo man showing up at your door, but you should still avoid skipping out on your bills for too long. Set up automatic payments so you never miss a deadline, and create a budget to track your recurring expenses, or you could wind up in debt or face a visit from the repo man in real life.

6. Monetize your side hobby

Depending on your Sim’s skills, they can earn money from side hustles, including writing and painting.

You also can monetize your own skills. Whether you want to boost your savings, get out of debt or reach a specific money goal, there are some side hustles that cost nothing to start. Here’s a list to get you started.

7. Upgrading your items may improve your quality of life

Sims are materialistic. While keeping them fed and bathed keeps their happiness rating steady, you can give them a boost buy purchasing a random piece of furniture. For example, splurge on a $600 lamp and your Sim will likely go admire it for three hours, or until you tell them to go do something else.

While going out and buying a pricey lamp may not fit into your real-life budget, splurging on smaller purchases — like a daily pumpkin spice latte — may be worth your own happiness in the long run.

Struggle with with debt or saving for retirement? Focus on the big picture. Larger financial decisions, like buying a car or home, will affect your finances more than your regular coffee run.

8. Get financially protected if a loved one (or Sim) dies

Depending on the game edition, Sims can leave money for their family or friends after their death, an informal form of life insurance.

Just like The Sims, life insurance is a great way to financially protect your loved ones in case the unexpected happens. It’s important to shop around to get the best possible rate and policy that fits your needs. Here’s how to get life insurance in eight simple steps.

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Image: Hugo Barbosa