An Intro To Playing CASHFLOW 101

You've heard about this game called CASHFLOW 101. You like what you heard, and decided you'd like to try it out. You went to, visited the "Cashflow Circles" forum, and found a group in your area willing to take in a new player. You're all ready!

Well, almost. You WILL be, after reading this.

This Intro will teach you some of the basics of playing the game. When you play, you will spend less time figuring out what is going on, and invest that time into learning to have more money in your life.

The Steps

The Big Picture

CASHFLOW is played in two parts, and the rules are slightly different in each.

Everyone starts out in the "Rat Race". It mimics how most people live their lives financially. The goal of the first part is to get out of the Rat Race.

When you do, you go into the second part of the game, called the "Fast Track". This is the world the wealthy live in.

The Rat Race and the Fast Track have their own tracks on the game board. This intro mainly talks about the Rat Race - you'll learn about the Fast Track when you get there.

Getting started

You'll receive two playing pieces, a rat and a piece of cheese.

First, pick a dream. These are the pink spaces on the Fast Track. Find one you like, and put your cheese piece on it. For now, all you need to know is that when you get to the fast track, you will have the opportunity to realize your dream. (Some groups don't do this step. If your group is like this, take time at some point to look over the Dream spaces.)

You'll also get a blank game sheet. The game sheet is where you'll record your financial information. It looks similar to this:

CASHFLOW 101 Game Sheet

This figure has some details left out, as you'll see when you play the game. For now, there are a few things to notice:

Next, pick a Profession card (if someone doesn't pick it for you). The profession card looks like a smaller version of the game sheet, with numbers filled in. You'll copy the info from the Profession Card onto the Game Sheet. After that, you don't need the Profession card.

This is a good time to meet your Auditor. Normally this is the person seated on your right. He or she will check your financial statements (i.e., the income statement and balance sheet) whenever they change. Have them check that you copied the info onto your Game Sheet correctly.

The last thing to set up is your starting cash. This is equal to the sum of your Savings (in the Asset Column) and one month's cash flow.

This brings us to the next topic - how to keep track of your money.

Keeping Track of Money

As you play the game, you will have income from various sources, and spend money on necessities and investments (both good and bad). There are several ways that you can keep track of how your available cash changes. The method chosen can make a big difference in how fast the game moves. Here are some methods players have used, in order of "slowest" to "best".

The first is to use the play money included with the game. It's like Monopoly money. One player will be the banker, giving out and taking money as needed. While using the play money can be fun, it also slows things down a LOT.

Another way is to just write down the amount of cash you have. Whenever the amount changes, erase or cross out the number, and write down the new amount.

A third way is to have a separate sheet of paper, with four columns: "Transaction", "+", "-", and "Balance". Whenever something happens that changes the amount of cash you have, you write down what is happening in the first column; the change in the second (income) or third (expense) column, depending on whether your cash went up or down; and the new cash amount in the last column. For example, say you pass the "Pay Check" space; you have $2230 in cash, and your monthly cash flow is $840. You write "Pay" in the first column, "840" in the second, and "3070" (i.e., 2230+840) in the last column. The third column is blank. There are times when having a transaction history like this is very helpful.

A fourth way is to use software that automates all the arithmetic for you. One that we use and like is cfAccountant, which works on Palm devices. It makes a lot of things go faster, in fact. (It's shareware; you can download a free trial version at

Running In The Rat Race

The Rat Race is the track that you start on. Place your rat token on the "Start Here" arrow on this track.

You will find four main kinds of spaces in the Rat Race.

One is the yellow "Pay Check" space. Whenever you land on or pass this space, add the amount of your Monthly Cash Flow to your total cash.

Another space is the green "Opportunity" space. This means you have found an investment opportunity. When you land on this, draw a card from either the "Small Deal" or the "Big Deal" stack - your choice. ("Small" and "Big" refers to how much money you will need to partake in the deal. Most Small Deals cost a few thousand or less; Big Deals usually take tens of thousands.)

Next is the blue "Market" space. When you land on it, draw a Market card. These cards include buyers of investments you may own, such as real estate, and other economic events that may affect you.

The fourth main kind of space is the pink Doodad space. A doodad is something that you spend money on, and which does not really contribute to your financial upliftment. The expense is not optional; when you land on this space, draw a doodad card, read it, and pay up.

There are other spaces too, which I won't go into here. You'll learn about them as you play.

Getting Out

As said before, the goal of part one is to get out of the rat race.

So how do you do that?

When you get your game sheet, you will notice that your income is broken down into two parts: salary (from your day job), and what is called passive income. Passive income is income that comes in with little or no additional effort on your part. If you have royalties from a book, income from a rental property you own, or stock that pays dividends each quarter, you have passive income.

Sometimes you'll have to do SOME work - if that rental house develops a leaky roof, you'd better have it fixed if you want to continue collecting rent! The difference is that for a "normal" job, you have to invest your time continually to keep receiving income, and if you work half as much, your income immediately goes down by half or more. With passive income, after you do some initial work up front, you have an income stream that continues with little or no time on your part to maintain it.

So, again: in this game, how do you get out of the rat race? Very simply, make investments that give you passive income. (Mostly these will come from Small Deal and Big Deal cards.) When your passive income is greater than your total expenses, you are OUT.

Think about what this means. It means you can quit your day job, and maintain the same standard of living you had before.

When that happens to you, announce it, and high five the people around you :)

A Final Note

There is more to the game than is covered here. Having read this far, you don't know everything there is to know about the game. That is fine, though, because you are over a large part of the learning curve. The rest will come more easily to you as you play.

Keep in mind that some groups have their own quirks and house rules, so if your group does something different than what is written above, go along with how they do it. Take it lightly, and have fun.

I would appreciate feedback from people who have used this intro to prepare for their first game, and from gaming group hosts who refer new people to it. Contact me with any comments at

Legal Matters

Copyright 2003 Aaron Maxwell. This document may be used in whole or part for any purpose, and in any format. It would be nice if you credit the author (Aaron Maxwell), and/or let him know how you are finding it useful, but it's not necessary.

CASHFLOW 101 is a mark of Cashflow Technologies, Inc. The figure in the "Getting Started" section is a schematic likeness of the Cashflow 101 game sheet; the game sheet itself is copyright 1996, 1997, and 1999 Cashflow Technologies, Inc.