While you’re probably well aware of how important it is to have a savings, it’s can be way too easy to put off. Maybe there are too many awesome things you want to do that require money—or you’re simply not sure how to get started. Saving your beans for a rainy day doesn’t have to be a buzzkill. You can even make it fun and get creative by turning it into a game. Here are five ways you can gamify your savings:
1. Go on a Spending Fast
As part of a financial cleanse to rid yourself of negative money habits, trying going on a spending fast. You can commit to not spending at all in a given amount of time. If you’ve never gone on such a fast before, try it out for a week. As you gain more confidence, you can lengthen the time period. While it’s not usually something you can sustain indefinitely, it’ll help you re-examine your spending habits.
Pauline Paquin, founder of Reach Financial Independence, suggests going on spending fasts in specific categories to boost your savings. “I often do small challenges such as no grocery shopping for a month, no car for a month, no beer for a month,” Paquin explains. “You have to be resourceful, and even after the ban is lifted, you often learn to do with less.”
2. The One Percent Challenge
Created by Paula Pant of Afford Anything, the One Percent Challenge is where you start by saving an additional percent of your earnings, then continue saving another percent each month. For instance, if you currently save 2 percent of your income each month, boost it to 3 percent this month, then to 4 percent the following month. If you afford to keep it up, by the end of the year, you’ll be saving 14 percent.
By gradually leveling up on the amount you save, you’ll have an easier time committing to it. If your credit union offers mobile banking such as Sprig® by CO-OP you can set up an automatic transfer money into your savings on a regular basis.
3. Turn Your Budget Upside-Down
Joseph Hogue of Peer Finance 101 suggests what he calls “turning your budget upside-down,” or paying yourself first. With this saving strategy, take out how much you want to save first, then create your budget second. “If you don’t have enough after all your expenses, it forces you to cut spending instead of forgoing saving.”
Try creating a budget based on the amount after subtracting the amount you would like to save each month. Start by saving a small amount and cut back in your expenses accordingly. Get creative about cutting back by coming up with clever ways to curb your spending. Once you adjust to the difference in your disposable income, ramp up the savings amount.
4. The Sneaky Savings Game
Come up with sneaky ways to save, and you’ll be tucking away money you didn’t even notice you had. For instance, you can put every dollar bill into a jar and take it to your local financial institution at the end of the month to put toward your savings. Try this out with loose change; you’ll be surprised at how much you end up saving. You can also commit to saving every time you receive a cash gift for your birthday, or from a raise or bonus at your job.
5. Tip Yourself
For every five dollars you spend on X type of item, “tip yourself” a dollar, or 20 percent, and put it into your savings account. The rule is that savings trumps spending. So if you can’t afford to do both, you’ll need to put the money toward your savings. If you can’t afford to tip yourself, you’re probably spending too much.
It’s a great way to take a closer look at your spending habits that you normally don’t think twice about, such as latte trips to Starbucks or impulsively buying mobile apps you end up not using. You might be surprised at how much you spend on a given item.
Saving doesn’t have to be boring or hard. Turning it into a game can help you get started and stay committed when the going gets tough. You can try out one of the five ideas or come up with your own version of a savings game. Enlist the participation of your friends and reward yourself along the way. You’ll have a robust savings in no time.