Civilization V Budgeting

Sid Meier’s Civilization is one of the most addictive video games ever. It also saved one couple’s finances.

When Alex Recker and his wife Marissa had problems taming their freelance budget, they tried out a few approaches but were getting nowhere. Then Alex was playing Civilization V one night and was looking at his civilization’s finances… and realized something.

In the game, players see how much gold they have each turn. They also see whether they’re making or losing gold.

That’s when the Reckers built a budgeting platform based on Civilization V.

A Civilization-Inspired Budget

Recker basically created a spreadsheet which breaks down weekly and monthly costs; it then calculated how much money he and his wife were spending daily. The same formulas were applied to his income as well, showing how every single day—kind of like how Civilization shows every turn—the couple had made money or lost money in total.

As he put it, “By taking the amount due on each bill ($8), the number of days per bill (30 – roughly a month), I could get the amount of money Netflix costs per day by just dividing Column B by Column C – $0.26 per day.”

Thinking About Money Differently

By taking something that can be frustrating and annoying–keeping tabs on the household budget–and putting it in the context of a strategy video game, the couple saw their finances from a different perspective.

This is crucial. Budgets and spending records can be amazingly intimidating when you print them out or view them on a monitor. However, breaking down costs on a daily basis or viewing them through the eyes of a video game can help you find new approaches for saving money.

The best part of all is that this may become a publicly-available webapp soon. Recker and his collaborators are working on a new GitHub project called Bennedetto, “the turn-based budget.”

We’re looking forward to it.