What Can Animal Crossing Teach Us About Planning?

Ian runs through what Animal Crossing can teach us about planning, both in financial planning and in life. The three steps are to understand where you are and where you want to be, to develop a set of action items and execute, and then to monitor your ongoing progress and adapt. Animal Crossing asks you to do this with your island, life just asks you to do this.


What’s up, Internet? My name’s Ian Bloom. Welcome to Nerd Finance. I’m your resident financial life planner and huge nerd. I kind of missed saying that by the way.

So today we are kicking off a three-part series about Animal Crossing. And it’s not entirely about Animal Crossing in the sense that we’re going to take some lessons from the Animal Crossing series and apply them to financial planning and life as we do on this channel. But I thought Animal Crossing was a pretty interesting game to bring up because, well, if you’ve been watching this channel for a while, you know that I adore the Nintendo Switch. I did a whole video on it. And I also really think that Animal Crossing is that perfect marriage of the creativity I enjoy and some relaxation to help you get through this trying time.

So let’s kick off with the first lesson we can take from Animal Crossing, and that is having the ability to execute on a plan. See, Animal Crossing asks you a pretty important question throughout the game, which is what is the ideal island for you? And in order to create your ideal island, you’re going to have to do three important things, which is coincidentally the same three things that you have to do to execute on any plan. The first is to have a vision for how to get your island from where you are today to where you want it to be in the future. You have to decide what you want your island to look like and then have the ability to see how you can get it between those two points.

The second part is execution, so you have to do whatever the tasks are necessary, maybe move some rivers, plant some trees, move some houses, those sorts of things in order to get your island exactly where you want it to be.

And then finally you have to adapt or iterate. You see, Animal Crossing, much like life, has changes built into it in its very nature. Animal Crossing had a patch come out this week that made a lot of people with really big gardens on their island feel very, very tilted because it added bushes to the game, which were previously not in the game. And so nobody had built space for them in their gardens. Well, now you have to have bushes. No big deal, right? It’s an added feature, but it’s so many people upset because they weren’t ready to prepare for new items coming into the game.

So in any case, that is basically the process that we use for financial planning. Three steps. You are going to start by having a really good understanding of where you are today and where you want to be in the future. And a good financial planner will take you through that journey and help you answer those questions.

The second thing you’re going to need to do is once you’ve identified the difference between where you are today and where you want to be in the future is to develop a list of action steps and execute on them. Very simply, you just need to do the things that’ll get you from A to B.

And then finally, you have to adapt to changes. Our current situation is a perfect example of situations that you need to adapt to in life. Things do change. Right now we’re all in social distancing because of coronavirus. That’s why I’m recording outside. I figured it’d be a nice change of scenery. And so your plan has to be able to be adapted for those changing circumstances. That iteration is what actually makes financial planning special. Having somebody in your life to help you adapt to those changes is the powerful part.

So anyway, I hope you learned something from this video. You got two more Animal Crossing videos to look forward to. Thanks so much for watching. And I hope you have a wonderful day.

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