You know you should be saving, and you have the best intentions of saving, but saving seems soÃ¢Â?Â¦boring. After all, saving is what your grandmother used to tell you to do. Besides, you never have any “real” amounts to put away. It only ever seems like a few dollars here, a few dollars there. How do you motivate yourself to save, when all you have is a little at a time?
Saving a little at a time-even as little as $25 or $50 per month-adds up big time. But there’s a psychological drawback to saving small amounts: it’s easy to get discouraged. So, to keep your motivation high, make saving interesting and effortless with the following savings games.
1. The Challenge. Start with a small amount and make it your challenge to make that amount into a certain amount within a certain amount of time. For example, start with $25 and try to make that money into $1000 in a year. Find creative ways to add to the amount: deposit your savings from a coupon, match what you spend at a restaurant, or pay yourself for exercising or cleaning your apartment. Or, use the seed money to invest in a business, such as buying items to sell on Ebay or buying supplies and cleaning other people’s houses. Whatever you do, make it a challenge, document your progress, and celebrate your success. The challenge will keep it interesting, and you’ll be motivated by the quick way that the money adds up.
2. Keep the change. Bank of America offers a widely publicized debit card that rounds up all your purchases and deposits the change into a savings account. This is not a new idea, and you don’t have to have the debit card to use that idea. (Though, if you find it hard to save, the debit card will make it easier to play this money game.) Each time you make a purchase, round up the number to the nearest dollar and put aside that amount of change towards your savings. But don’t stop there! Try rounding up to the nearest five dollars or the nearest ten dollars. You’ll be amazed and excited by how fast your money grows. And will you really miss that 37 cents?
3. Tip yourself. When you’re out to eat or in a salon or anywhere else that you give a worker a tip, match the tip. Even a few dollars can add up to a lot, especially when you eat out several times a week. Next time you add on that 20% at your favorite bistro, add 20% to your savings account, as well. After all, it’s your moneyÃ¢Â?Â¦Don’t you deserve to be tipped, too?
4. Pay yourself first. You’ve heard it over and over: pay yourself first. But how? Try paying yourself for your first hour of work each day. Whatever you make per hour, put that aside each morning. If you work 40 hours per week, one hour per day will result in you putting away 20% of your income, but in small, manageable increments. An alternative to paying yourself first is paying yourself overtime. If you get paid for working overtime, send that money straight into savings. If you don’t, pay yourself for each hour that you work over 40 per week. Either way, you’ll rack up the savings.
5. Stretch it out. This is one of my favorite money games, and one of the most painless ways to save money. If you use a regular service-such as a housecleaner or a manicurist-stretch out the time between services. Get a haircut every six weeks? Try waiting for seven or eight weeks. Pedicure every week? Stretch it out to every 8 days instead of every 7. You won’t feel the difference, but your wallet will: if you use a service every four weeks that costs $100, you will save $260 per year by using the same service every five weeks instead.
Saving is never as easy as spending, but by playing money games, saving will be easier and more interesting. It will also add up more quickly, and you’ll find that the more you save, the more you want to save. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that $25 growing to $250 and then to $2500 and beyond.