Applying Financial Lessons to My Fictitious Videogame Truck Driving Business

While it’s just a videogame, I couldn’t let the thought of it go. All day I was basically beating myself up about how in debt I had put my fictitious truck driving business, and wondering how I was going to dig out of this imaginary debt.

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,570.87
Total Paid Off: $16,739.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

By now it should be well established that I grew up as a redneck kid in the 80s. In that environment, and with a semi-truck driving father, there was no better movie to me than “Smokey and the Bandit.” The film has not held up well with time, and many of it’s jokes and themes would never fly (nor should they) in 2019, but this was a different time and I was mesmerized by The Bandit and his truck driving sidekick, Snowman.

To me, my Dad was The Snowman. He drove an awesome purple and chrome truck that he kept spotless at all times, he talked to his truck driving buddies on a CB radio, he wore snap up shirts and cowboy boots, and he called things like fuel “go go juice.” He even had the Burt Reynolds mustache! My Dad was a GOD to me.

[NOTE: For you “Smokey and the Bandit” aficionados out there, I am fully aware that I compared my dad to Snowman played by Jerry Reed, but then said he had Burt Reynold’s mustache. I apologize and hope we can still be friends.]

I never became a truck driver, but I’ve always maintained my fascination with “big rigs.” I once watched a Louis Theroux documentary where he interviewed a boxer who drove a semi-truck around his town as his daily driver. Maybe I’ll do that someday, but for now the best way I can scratch that itch is via a videogame simulation called “American Truck Simulator.”

When I explain this “game” to people, it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world, and it probably is. You own and operate a trucking company, and you haul loads of things from one town to the next. Completing a delivery on time gets you paid, and you use that cash to upgrade your truck, by new trucks, hire drivers, and build a fleet. Crashes, traffic violations and bypassing weigh stations will lose money, so you have to be mindful of speed limits and local laws at all times.

I know this is a weird financial blog post… stick with me.

One of the things this simulation allows you to do is borrow money from the bank to buy new trucks and upgrades. The way the loan is handled in the game is that each day you have to make a daily payment on the loan, and the amount you pay is directly tied to the amount of money you have borrowed, as one might expect.

I hadn’t played the game since late last year, but this past week they released an update that now allows you to complete deliveries in Washington State. Being that I live in Washington, I took this as an opportunity to dawn my virtual trucker hat and climb back into the cab.

I was surprised by the anxiety I felt when I realized what I had done…

When last I played, I hadn’t learned the magnitude of my real-life debt, nor had I even really cared. I didn’t think about finances or loans or retirement funds or any of that stuff. I guess that might be selling myself a bit short, as I did care about it a bit, but not like I do now.

With my new financial understanding from 6 months of research and lessons learned firmly in place, I now realized that I was making the same mistakes in my virtual videogame life that I had been making in my actual real life!

I had taken out several loans to buy better trucks and upgrade my fleet. I was in debt up to my eyeballs, and had to drive my truck non stop every single day just to cover the minimum payments on the loan. I skipped sleeping at times, broke the speed limit whenever I could get away with it, and for the most part behaved like an idiot just so I could get an extra delivery or two in to cover that payment. I was getting beeped and booped at constantly about my loan payments being due, and I couldn’t seem to get ahead.

After an hour or two, I shut it off.

While it’s just a videogame, I couldn’t let the thought of it go. All day I was basically beating myself up about how in debt I had put my fictitious truck driving business, and wondering how I was going to dig out of this imaginary debt.

I fired it back up that night, and found that I could make extra loan payments, and even pay off  the debt totally if I could afford it. So I took my life learnings and started to apply them. I started with my smallest debt first and started paying extra on it. I took any extra work I could get and paid that first debt off. Then I took the money that was going to that loan and started attacking the next.

By the end of the evening, I was well on my way to videogame financial freedom! I felt good.

It’s an odd thing to want to play a truck driving simulator. It’s an even odder thing to feel this good about digging out of debt in a truck driving simulator, but it made me realize just how much my mentality towards debt and borrowing money has changed. To properly overcome debt, you need to change your mental approach and overall lifestyle, and if that happens to bleed into other aspects of your life, videogame or otherwise, it’s probably a good thing!

Keep on trucking, and keep on digging!

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