Saving money doesn’t need to be a drag. There are plenty of fun ways to save money by creating games and challenges around your saving goals.
Check out these fun ways to save:
#1: A Savings Competition
Call someone else who’s in a financial pinch: your sister, your best friend, your high school athletic rival. Challenge them to a save-off: compete to see who can save more money over the next month, or next six months, wins the game.
You can negotiate how you define “saving more.” Is it measured by a raw number – awarded to whoever saves the greatest amount of money? Or is it measured as a percentage of after-tax income? Or could it be measured by each of your relative spending declines, as compared to how much each of you spent the previous year?
Regardless of how you select a savings metric, it’s important that the winner doesn’t receive an expensive prize. You might agree that the winner receives the joy of being able to gloat. Or you might decide that the loser should perform some service for the winner, such as washing the winner’s car. If you decide the prize should involve a cash outlay, it could be as simple as the winner receiving a homemade meal.
#2: A Net Worth Competition
Alternatively, you could challenge your competitor to see which of you can grow your total net worth over the span of the next few months. This way your focus is fixed on increasing your savings account, not slashing your bills. Your mindset shifts away from cost-cutting (a scarcity mentality) and towards growth and progress (an abundance mentality).
There are two ways to invoke a “net worth” challenge: either by setting a time deadline (who can add the most to their bank balance in the next six months?) or by establishing a “finish line” (who can be the first to grow a net worth of $100,000)?
#3: Make It a Game
Get your entire family involved, and create a game to see who can find the most creative ways to save money. Have each person keep a record of the innovative ways they saved some cash or re-used an item.
Your son might start washing and re-using Ziploc bags. Your wife might replace all the incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs. Your daughter may start mending her own clothes or planting an herb garden.
Encourage creativity. Host a family meeting once a week where you give out little prizes: the Wackiest Way to Save Award, the Biggest Bang-for-Your-Buck Savings Award, the “Ah, Why Didn’t I Think of That?!” Award.
#4: Compete with Your Spouse
You know that competition I suggested in step #1? Try having that challenge with your spouse. This time you can raise the prize-winning stakes!
#5: A Savings Thermometer
Draw a picture of a giant thermometer. Write your savings goal at the top. Tack it up somewhere that the whole house can see it – perhaps on the refrigerator or in the living room.
Each week, color the thermometer according to how much you’ve saved – in the same way that a school or sports fundraising team colors a thermometer to show how closely it’s approaching its fundraising goals.
The top of the thermometer should represent some prize that everyone in your family wants. This could be as cheap as a popcorn party or a trip to the zoo (especially if you have young children) or as much of a splurge as a $400 massage chair (which would probably appeal to an adult household.)
Remember: the prize for filling the thermometer doesn’t need to eat away the entire savings goal. You might decide to launch a family savings goal of $1,000, but spend only $200 of that on a prize.