Games Millionaires Play

What kind of entertainment do millionaires engage in?  Do they sip cocktails while playing a round of golf on the green?  Do they race Ferrari’s around the neighborhood?  Betting on horses at the race track?  Crazy parties on the private jet?  Maybe they plan out elaborate pranks to play on the “little people”?

Hollywood has us convinced that millionaires somehow live a life of extreme luxury, very different from our own.  Hollywood tells us that “money” gives millionaires the ability to entertain themselves in luxurious ways “the little people” will never see.  Well, I’ve got bad news for you, Hollywood got it wrong  


The Millionaire Next Door

The millionaire lifestyle envisioned in Hollywood movies probably does exist, but only in the upper 1% of the upper 1%.  The vast majority of millionaires are actually pretty down to Earth people.  How do I know this?  The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets Of America’s Wealthy, by Thomas Stanley.  

Millionaire Next Door

Mr. Stanley did years of research on America’s millionaires, and what he found surprises most people.  I know it surprised me! There’s a reason the book is up on my recommended book list; It was instrumental in changing how I thought about money.  Ultimately it’s the book that set me on the path to financial independence.

So what are the vast majority of millionaires like?  The majority are frugal, hard-working people, who don’t live in giant houses or buy flashy toys.  They don’t buy expensive cars or go on luxury vacations.  They live relatively normal lives, entertain themselves in very humble ways, and save lots of money doing it.


Tako Family Entertainment

So how does this millionaire family entertain ourselves?  

Mrs. Tako and I like to play board games (or card games) with other families.  If you read my interview over at 1500 days, you’ll know I’m a big board game nerd.  On the weekend you will usually find us at a friend’s house for dinner and board games.  

Board game shelf
Our board game and puzzle shelf.  In total, we only purchased a handful of these games. The rest were gifts. The shelves were free.

Why do I like board games?  

As you know, I’m a family man, and board games are a great form of social entertainment for families — far better than sitting in a chair glued to the television.  An adult can only watch Frozen or Toy Story so many times before they lose their mind.  Your brain will turn into Disney colored jelly.  Trust me on this.  I’ve seen it happen.

You actually have to use your brain playing board games!  Use it or lose it!  In contrast, most other forms of consumer entertainment require no active brain power.  I’d rather use my brain playing board games than tossing back overpriced wine at a fancy restaurant.

Board games get our family to socialize with other families, and are a great way for both children and adults to interact.  Kids can learn about following rules, money handling, and strategy.

From a financial perspective, board games (and card games) are great for the pocketbook.  Modern board games are typically priced in the $20-$50 price range.  Yes, it’s far more than you might pay for a classic game like Monopoly.  The classic games have their place, but modern board games are far better.  They’re better designed, more engaging, and frequently of higher quality construction.

 While $20-$50 may sound expensive, if you compare that against the cost of a night-out, board games end up being surprisingly affordable family entertainment.  If $20-$40 is outside your budget, pick up a pack of playing cards instead.  For a little over $4 there’s tons of cheap entertainment to be found with a pack of cards.

Heck, even the richest people in the world are big card players.  Yes, that’s right — they aren’t out cruising in their Lambos.  They’re playing bridge.

Who needs a lot of money to have fun?  These billionaires only need a pack of cards.
Gates & Buffett:  Who needs a lot of money to have fun? Billionaires only need a pack of cards.
Where To Find Great Board Games

It’s unfortunate, but such cost effective forms of entertainment get very little shelf space at your typical American retailer.  If you’re interested in picking up a modern board game (made in the last 10 years), I recommend you seek out your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS), or use Amazon.

You can find board games at thrift stores, but I’ve never had any luck finding games that interested me.  Amazon is going to have cheapest prices, but a FLGS will give you far better service.

In most cases, your local game store will be able to recommend board games that fit your needs and let you sample them.  Yes, that’s right — they frequently have open boxes and will let you try a few rounds before purchasing.  If you have kids, I highly recommend it.  Being able to evaluate the components and difficulty for your family is probably worth a few dollars extra.  

The best value is going to be the game you end up playing the most!


What To Get

Like most forms of entertainment, it’s a highly personal choice.  What might be fun and engaging for one person, will be boring to another person.  Maybe you like more strategy and less luck?  Maybe you need kid friendly games?

When researching games online, there is no better resource than Board Game Geek.  They have over 83 thousand titles listed, and are a fantastic resource.  Information overload might be an issue for those just getting started.

Again, being able to try out a few board games with your family is probably worth a few extra dollars.  If you don’t have a local game store, try making friends with other board gamers in your area!

Power Grid
Everyone enjoys different games. Mrs. Tako happens to hate this game, but Mr. Tako loves it. Good thing we have plenty of other games!

So what board games does Mr. Tako enjoy?  

I’m a big of the modern strategy board games (often called Euro games because they come from Europe).  Titles like Catan ($38), Ticket To Ride ($40), and Callisto ($13) go over well when we’re playing with kids.  When it’s just adults playing, we like the more complex Euro games like Power Grid ($33), Dominion ($30), Machi Koro ($40), Agricola ($49), 7 Wonders ($33), and Puerto Rico ($29).

Obviously there’s other titles, but those are the ones that end up on the table frequently. 

PNP:  The Next Level

If you like making things (I do), and have some skill with scissors and glue; there is a whole other level of frugality to achieve.  Print And Play board games!  

I’ve mentioned them in the past, but this site didn’t have many visitors at the time.  I figured this post was a perfect time to bring it up again!

Print And Play games are exactly like what they sound — games you print on a computer printer, cut-out, and then play!  Most laser or inkjet printers will work fine.  There might be a little glue involved too.  The complexity and skill required are entirely up to you.  There are simple 20 minute cutouts, and complex builds that take weeks to create.

There are literally thousands of free games for anyone who can be bothered to spend a few minutes cutting out the pieces.

A Print and Play version of Puerto Rico we gifted to a friend
“Print and play” Puerto Rico game that we gifted to a friend.  Total cost was probably $3-4 for all the components.

My kids are still a little too young, but it’s a great activity for the younglings!  They get a chance to work with scissors and glue on a project they will enjoy.  What’s the cost breakdown?  Usually less than a couple dollars — the price of a few bits of paper, and maybe some plastic beads!

If you’re willing to put in a little time and care, print and play games can make great entertainment (and great gifts too)!


Spending Alternatives

Sometimes becoming a millionaire isn’t about the things you do.  Sometimes it’s about the things you don’t do.  

Our family has fun without spending a lot of money.  Board games are just one of the things we do for fun instead of spending.

Whatever your entertainment interests (or social interests), I hope you get my message that entertainment doesn’t have to be costly.  There are tons of ways to be entertained and socialize without high costs.  Board games just happen to be a great way to do this!

Ignore Hollywood’s false message of excessive luxury through wealth.  There are far better things in life to achieve than luxury.


[Image Credit: Flickr]

22 thoughts on “Games Millionaires Play

  • May 20, 2016 at 5:03 PM

    Nice ideas. We play a lot of UNO, chess and scrabble.
    Kids love it too.
    As a teenager we played a strategy game called Risk.

    • May 23, 2016 at 8:33 AM

      Those are great classic games! I vaguely remember Risk from when I was a kid. You should try some newer board games. You might be surprised at how much they’ve improved over the years.

  • May 20, 2016 at 5:37 PM

    Games are great to have fun with, really cheap initially and you can have YEARS of fun with it. It’ll work out to like $0.10 a game or even cheaper.

    I used to live playing Risk, Chess, Uno, Checkers, Monopoly and games like that. I like strategy video games too; Age of Empires, Civilisation, Total, total annihilation.

    Outside, I love tennis. Don’t need to spend thousands for this 🙂

    Don’t need to spend thousands for these games.


    • May 23, 2016 at 8:35 AM

      Wow…checkers? I haven’t played that in ages!

      They do have a civilization board game fyi:

      I’ve never tried it, but looking at those amazon reviews, it looks great!

  • May 21, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    Great form of entertainment for the family! I look forward to my little one getting old enough for board games.

  • May 21, 2016 at 9:39 AM

    We only have a deck of cards packed while we’re traveling, but reading this post makes me miss playing a good board game. I love board games, but my wife isn’t quite as enthusiastic about them as I am. I really enjoy strategy games, the less luck, the better. We’ve played 7 wonders a few times and we even own Catan although only D has played that one. I’m very interested in trying Puerto Rico and Agricola.

    • May 23, 2016 at 8:36 AM

      Puerto Rico and Agricola are both fantastic. Definitely a lot of deep strategy there!

    • May 24, 2016 at 8:22 PM

      I wasn’t a big board game fan either. Mr. Tako and his friends introduced me into lots of fun games starting those easy-to-start games such as card games (Pinochle, Hand and Foot), Set, For Sale, Dominos, etc. We have a great friend who’s really good at explaining the rules, which helped me a lot, since I didn’t have to read through the rule books. Also, it’s just a great pastime & social time to spend with friends. Good snacks to munch on during the game always makes it even more enjoyable. Who knows, your wife could someday become a board game nerd, too. 😉

  • May 22, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    Our family loves playing board games. Most recently, we started playing Pandemic with our teen boys.

    It’s a great way to break the iPad/TV trap that separates everyone and reduces family togetherness.

    Thanks for the idea on print and play. I’ll check that out.

    Financial Slacker

    • May 23, 2016 at 8:39 AM

      Oh yeah! I didn’t mention Pandemic, but that’s a good one too!

      Supposedly Pandemic Legacy ( is even better! I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try it though!

  • May 23, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    “Your brain will turn into Disney colored jelly. Trust me on this. I’ve seen it happen.” Yup, us too! Its really messy too…. 😉

    Nice board game selection, we own a couple too. But since Miss CF was born, we have not had time to do many…unfortunately.

    • May 23, 2016 at 7:34 AM

      You’ll get time for it when she gets a bit older maybe. She’ll become more interested in games…eventually!

  • May 23, 2016 at 1:13 PM

    Mr. Tako you said “the younglings” – love it. I have a good friend who hosts a game day at his house and introduced me to power grid. Since I work for an energy company (and hey I am a nerd) I loved it. I think it’s something great to teach kids and others a little about how power is created, transmitted, and distributed. My family and I are on vacation and my son and I played chess today. There were a ton of great moments of instruction and intrigue and by the third game he almost beat me. At 8 years old I think he’ll remember that much more than watching Star Wars with me. I really enjoyed your perspective on this topic – my wife is a big fan of board games as well. Sounds like something I should pursue more.

    • May 23, 2016 at 1:29 PM

      Absolutely! Your son is just at the right age for most board games too!

      Many Euro games contain economic models as part of the game. It’s a great way to teach the basics of finance and investing!

  • May 23, 2016 at 2:55 PM

    Been playing a lot of “Forbidden Island” with our 5 year old recently. It’s great for Adults and younger kids because it’s a cooperative game. We all win, or we all lose. Also great value for the price, I think it’s under $20. Look it up Mr Tako!

  • May 27, 2016 at 2:25 AM

    You have a big board game collection !! I am also into board games but just have 2 games in my kitty. Have you ever played Sequence? That’s our favorite…

  • May 30, 2016 at 9:30 PM

    That picture of Warren and Bill playing cards – now that’s priceless. So is the Millionaire Next Door recommendation – that was it for me several years ago, but people are so lucky to have some great blogs (like this one!) to follow now days too.

    Sequence! It’s one of those deceptively simple seeming games where in reality there are actually deep algorithms all over the place. We’ve played regularly for years, and it’s still fun. I have my real wooden checker set from 1964 that still gets used too. And, the RISK game mentioned above, yes with wooden pieces, still a fun, viable game.

    But all those new games? Wow, I need to get it in gear – thanks for opening my eyes! And all these great ideas one one little page – awesome advice Mr. Tako!

  • June 3, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    The celebs living the high life and burning wads of cash are the ones who end up bankrupt. It looks fun while it lasts but the aftermath is not pretty.

  • May 19, 2017 at 1:22 PM

    I love board games and I’ll try to find some of these games in Sweden. Great list =)
    Anna recently posted…Lugnare idag


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