There are a lot of people who find if difficult to save money. If you’re on a tight budget, you might even actually believe that it’s impossible for you to accomplish this goal. While it certainly can be difficult, learning to save a dollar here or a handful of spare change there will add up to a decent amount in the long run. One of the best ways to save money is to turn the entire process into a game that can be played. By finding a little game which is able to inspire you to save a bit of money here and there, you are much more likely to succeed in saving the amount you want. Here are some of the little games that people play to help them save money:
Double Your Money
An easy way to save money is to play the “double your money” game. You can play this game with any starting amount, from one cent to one dollar to ten dollars. Let’s say you decide to play with the smallest amount possible. On day one, place $0.01 in a money jar. Then on day two double that amount, placing $0.02 in the jar. On day three, $0.04 is placed in the jar. Continue this for ten days (fourteen is you want to make it an even two weeks). On the tenth day, the amount you’ll be saving will be $5.12. Start over after that and by the end of the year, you’ll have saved $368.59.
Maybe you’ve made yourself a promise that you’re going to exercise at least once a week. Or maybe you’re trying to stop swearing. Maybe you keep putting off cleaning your house or trying to break yourself of a bad habit. One way to help yourself overcome this issue is to fine yourself every time you procrastinate from doing something or indulge in a bad habit.
52 Week Challenge
One of the best ways to save money is to make it a consistent habit over a long period of time. A 52 week challenge has you save between $1 and $52 each week during the year. There are a number of variation to the 52 week money challenge including the savings challenge (which also has a group with support). This game helps people get into a weekly habit of saving over a long period of time.
There are some people who create games or routines to get themselves to start saving. For instance, you could create a change jar and make a habit of cleaning out change from your wallet, purse, or car. Consider any spare change you receive during the week “off limits”. You can empty your spare change into the change jar at the end of each day or on one specific day each week. You might only have a couple of cents to put in each day – or maybe nothing at all – but before you know it, the amount in that change jar will start growing.
Dollar Bill Jar
If you’re looking to save more money than change, you can also play the “change jar” game with one dollar bills. Instead of making your change off-limits, you can make one dollar bills off-limits instead. Many people end up needlessly spending their one dollar bills because they want to get rid of them or consider it “easy money”. Stuffing one dollar bills into a jar each day or each week will help save you a little money and will get you out of the habit of spending them at every opportunity.
Did you just finish paying off your new car? Or maybe you’ve finally finished paying off your mortgage. Or maybe your loans or medical bills are finally paid off. Instead of spending that money on something new, consider continuing making payments, but to your savings account instead. If you don’t have another dire financial situation that needs your attention or other important bills to pay, take the amount you would have paid towards your car, mortgage, or other bill and send it to your savings account. You’re already used to paying that money each month, so why not send it where it’s going to benefit you?
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If you have direct deposit, consider setting up a second bank account and having a small percentage of your paycheck deposited there. It doesn’t have to be much. It can, for instance, be something as small as $20 or 1% of your paycheck. Make sure this account is at a separate bank so you don’t normally have access to it when you’re doing your regular banking. Some people always promise themselves that they’ll put a chunk of money away at the end of the month, but that doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes it’s best to have money automatically sent so you don’t have to think twice about it.
Live a Raise Behind
If you know that you’re getting a raise or bonus at work, don’t start planning on living well above your means. For instance, if you make $2,000 a month and get a $200 raise, don’t start budgeting to live on $2,200 a month. Instead, keep your budget to $2,000 and use that $200 to pay down debt or place it in your savings account.
Sometimes it’s hard to save money if you’re always reaching into your savings account to cover your expenses. If that’s the case, try using the per-diem envelope system of saving money. After setting aside the amount of money you’ll need to pay your monthly expenses, separate the remaining amount of your paycheck into one envelope for each day of the week. The amount you place in the envelope is the only money you’ll have for the day (barring emergencies, of course). If you have left over money, set that back aside in a savings account.
Try placing only one dollar bills in your wallet. Many people use debit of credit cards to buy things and it’s easy to swipe a card and not think twice about the final amount. Having a stack of one dollar bills as your only method of payment might help you recognize how much you’re spending. People are more aware of the money they’re spending when they’re physically giving it away.
Large Bills Only
On the other hand, keeping only large bills in your wallet might be another way to help prevent you from spending needlessly. Some people are also equally wary of breaking large bills since it makes them aware of how much money they’re actually spending. Having a $100 bill in your wallet might make you not want to spend money on items you don’t need. After all, you’d look pretty foolish breaking that $100 for a $3 coffee.
(Photo courtesy of KrissZPhotography)