Finding playtime in your planning

When we think of financial planning, things can get serious way too fast — a far cry from the carefree essence of playtime. However, the principle of play, fundamental to the way children learn and explore, retains its instructive power well into adulthood.

Play isn’t just a frivolous pastime; it’s a sophisticated exercise in simulation and experimentation, a vital component of human learning and adaptability.

In the realm of integrated financial planning, play can be assimilated into our strategies to enhance creativity, reduce stress, and promote a more profound sense of engagement. By incorporating elements of play — such as simulations, gamification of savings and investment goals, or role-playing different financial scenarios — we not only make the process more enjoyable but also deepen our understanding of financial concepts and our own behaviours.

Much like a child in a sandbox, constructing worlds without consequence, financial simulations allow adults to visualise the potential outcomes of different financial decisions in a risk-free environment. This “play” can demystify the consequences of high-stakes choices, like investment risks or retirement planning, by providing a sandbox-like scenario where one can experiment without the fear of real-world repercussions.

Moreover, play can reframe our relationship with money. It shifts our perspective from seeing financial planning as a chore to viewing it as a space for creativity and exploration. By playing with ideas of what our financial future could look like — painting pictures of retirement, entrepreneurial ventures, or philanthropy — we start to approach financial planning with the same innovation and excitement that a child approaches a new game.

Peter Grey’s insight into the vitality of play speaks to this very notion. If we let the rigidity of adulthood strangle our playfulness, we risk stifling the very spirit that can invigorate our financial practices. The mental growth that comes from play — the ability to innovate, to think laterally, to fail and try again without despair — is as essential in managing our money as it is in any other aspect of our lives.

By creating safe spaces for financial experimentation, where mistakes are part of the learning process, we encourage a growth mindset. We learn not to fear financial failure but to learn from it, much like a child who falls and rises again, undeterred. Integrated financial planning, therefore, benefits from encouraging us to embrace playfulness, nurturing a sense of curiosity and resilience that is vital for financial success.

Integrating the essence of play, or playfulness, into financial planning is not about undermining the seriousness of managing money. Instead, it’s about enriching the experience, making it engaging, and fostering a lifelong learning process that resembles the fearless explorations of our youth. Just as play is indispensable for a child’s development, it’s equally crucial for us as adults — as a strategy, a learning tool, and a reminder that at the heart of all our endeavours lies the timeless joy of play.

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