4.5 MIN READ
Cutting back on spending, doing without extras, joylessly putting money into a savings account—the whole practice of saving money can seem like a total drag. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be. Saving money can actually be a fun exercise if you‘re in the right mindset. If you’re looking to make saving money as satisfying as spending it, consider trying one or more of the following activities:
#1: Employ Technology
Technology has stepped up the savings game with financial apps. If you have a smartphone, you’re all set to take advantage of apps tailored to help you make better savings decisions. The best part? They do all the heavy lifting, figuring out the best ways to painlessly save a few dollars here and there. Sit back and watch your savings add up.
#2: Make It a Competition
If you know someone else who’s in the same financial situation as you are, challenge them to a save-off! Choose a period of time—say three to six months—and see who can save more money and win the game. The best way to make the competition fair is to measure the savings as a percentage of after-tax income.
As for the prize, make it something cheap. Maybe a coffee date or a homemade meal. Keep things fun and light!
#3: Compete Against Yourself
Have you ever challenged yourself to a game? You know, like seeing if you can take more steps each day, find the quickest route home, or eat an entire cake in one sitting? Well, you can do the same thing with saving money. Tally up how much cash you put into savings one month and then see if you can beat your own totals month over month. The added fun in this is that when you surpass your goal, you’re able to save extra money!
#4: Use a Piggy Bank
I know it seems a bit childish, but bear with me. A lot of financial advisors recommend using cash as a way to better monitor your spending. But paying for things with cash means getting a handful of change in return. Put that change to good use by dropping it in a piggy bank. Not only will you not miss it, you’ll be surprised at how fast it adds up. Once every few months, take it to your financial institution, get it counted, and throw it into your savings account!
#5: Make a Vision Board
For people who are really visual, creating a tangible representation of your savings goal is a great way keep your motivation up. Take some time to create a vision board out of pictures from magazines or the internet. If you’re saving for a vacation, put up pictures of your destination. If you’re trying to come up with a down payment for a house, cobble together images that represent your dream home. Being able to see what your money is going toward will help you keep your eye on the prize.
#6: Treat Yo’ Self
If you want to be successful in your savings, it’s important not to deprive yourself of all of life’s little pleasures. You need something to look forward to if you want to stay motivated. Take your savings goal and split it into a series of smaller targets. Give yourself a small reward (around $5) each time you hit a milestone. Frozen yogurt, a fancy coffee, a movie at the cheap seats…whatever tickles your fancy—it’s your reward for a job well done!
#7: Find Affordable (or Free!) Ways to Entertain Yourself
When you’re trying to save money, cutting back on eating out, going to the movies, or attending concerts can seem like it’s sucking the fun right out of your life. The trick is to stay entertained without draining your bank account. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do that don’t cost much, if they cost anything at all.
- Watch something cool on YouTube (my personal favorite is Mental Floss)
- Read a book
- Rewatch a favorite movie
- Upcycle something
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Play a video game
- Start a blog
- Give yourself a mani-pedi
- Watch a TED talk
- Listen to a Podcast (I recommend The Magnus Archives)
- Start a journal
- Have a board game night
- Bake something
- Write Amazon reviews (or better yet, read Amazon reviews)
- Collect items you no longer want around the house and donate them
- Take an online quiz
- Download and explore a new app
- Go to the park and walk the trails
- Learn something new (Explained on Netflix fits this purpose nicely)
- Clean your house
Not only will you get a kick out of most of these activities (hey, some people actually like cleaning, so I’ve heard…), many of them serve to both entertain you as well as benefit the environment or your community! You might have to get a little more creative if you have children, but it’s definitely doable. As you work through this list, keep a record of the activities you enjoy most. Before you know it, you’ll have a wonderful catalog of things to keep you busy when boredom sets in.
#8: Remember What’s Important In Life
While it’s definitely fun to go out and spend money on dinner or date nights, what really makes these occasions special is spending time with the people we love. One of the best things about saving money is discovering ways to create more of these moments in your life without dropping a wad of cash.
It’s cliche as all get out, but the some of the best things in life really are free. The good news is that you can still enjoy the company of friends and family while building financial security. Making saving money fun might be a challenge, but if you can find a system that works for you, you’ll be able to meet your savings goals before you know it.
About the Author
Liz Greene is a makeup loving, dog hugging, anxiety-ridden realist from the gorgeous City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.