If you’re like me and your days are spent reading personal finance blogs (or even if you just read this blog every once in a while) you are inundated with money saving tips. From grocery shopping to entertainment, to holiday shopping, everyone has advice on how to do it on the cheap. But this post isn’t going to be full of your run of the mill money saving advice. This is about tricking you into tucking money away without feeling the pain with some simple money games. Research shows that the less effort it takes, the more likely people are to save. So think of these tips as games you can play with yourself to get out of debt.
Money Games That Can Trick You Into Saving
The idea for this post came from something I saw floating around on Facebook called the 52-week challenge so we’ll call that money game #1.
#1: 52-Week Challenge
As the name suggests this challenge will take 52 weeks (1 year) to complete. When the year is over you will have $1,378! The largest deposit you will have to make is $52. Week 1, save $1, week 2 save $2, week 3 is $3 and so on. I am taking part in this challenge but I am actually doing it backward. I started with $52 and now each deposit I make is less than the one before. Whether you do it forward or backward doesn’t matter, what does matter is you will have almost $1,400 at the end of it all. This is a great way to get your emergency fund started or save for a vacation. If you do this with a friend of significant other you will have $2,756 for a vacation next year!
#2: Keep the Change
I’m not talking about pennies and nickels here; I am talking about good old crisp dollar bills. Every time you pay for something with cash and the cashier gives you your change, take the $1 bills and put them in a piggy bank. Even better, save all your $5 bills instead. I have a friend who started saving her $5 and in one month she has $80 and she said she doesn’t even notice the money is gone. If she keeps going at that rate she’ll have at least $1,000 in a year.
#3: Keep Making Payments
Did you finally pay your car loan off? You’ve been making the payments for years; keep up the habit and continue making the same payment right into a savings account. You won’t notice a difference in your budget. Let’s say your car payment was $300, you could have $3,600 in a year.
#4: Laundry Jar
If you are lucky enough to not have to pay for laundry, put a jar in your laundry room and put quarters in it every time you wash or dry. Start at $2.00 per wash and $2.00 per dry. If you do 2 loads of laundry per week you’ll have a little over $400 in a year.
#5: Save the Difference
I use a rewards card at my grocery store and on the bottom of every receipt, it tells me how much money I saved by using my card. Take the amount you saved and put it into your saving account. The same concept applies to utility bills. During months when your utility bills come in cheaper than you budgeted for, throw the difference in your piggy bank.
#6: Save Your “Extra” Paychecks
Most people create their budgets with the expectation of four paychecks per month (If you get paid monthly or bi-weekly this might not work for you) but some months have 5 weeks. It just so happens that in 2013 there are four months that have five weeks; March, May, August, and November. Put those four “extra” paychecks in your saving account.
Here is another little paycheck trick. If your weekly paycheck is an odd number, say $435, set up an automatic transfer for the $35 to go into a savings account every week. By the end of the year, you’re looking at $1,820.
Pick one of the money games above and play for one year and you’ll have a nice savings cushion. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can play two of these games, or three, or all of them!
Do you trick yourself when it comes to saving money? Tell us how. And we hope these small money games will help you.