Saving money and reducing debt are regular top five New Year resolutions for many people in the U.S.
If either of these is on your list, you are going to need to come up with a plan on how to save money. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to turn saving money into a game. In fact, you are probably already doing this to some degree without even realizing it.
There is one important thing you must understand in order for these games to work: the difference between perceived savings and actual savings. For example, if you buy a TV with a retail price of $500 and bargain it down to $400, you will tell yourself that you saved 20%, or $100. Most people stop at that point and the $100 remains in their spending account. It is then spent on various other things and disappears by the end of the month.
Part of what makes money-saving games successful is that the money saved is earmarked for a specific purpose and placed into a special account that is created specifically for that savings goal.
If you don't do this, you may believe you're saving a lot of money, but when you look at your bank account, you'll see that very little has actually been saved.
Whatever you decide to do with the savings from these games, make sure that you open a separate account specifically for the funds.
Once you have committed to doing that, money-saving games can go a long way to help you reach your New Year's savings resolutions without a lot of pain. Here are six of the more popular money-saving games that people play:
The Coin Jar Game
This is probably the most popular of the money saving games out there. When you arrive home at the end of the day, simply empty all the coins in your pockets into a savings jar or bank. At the end of the month, all the coins collected are taken to the bank and deposited into your special account.
People who want to increase their savings using this game can also include one dollar bills when they empty their pockets each day. Saving a dollar a day in change can mean $67,815 at retirement.
Pay Yourself First Game
This is another popular money-saving game that many personal finance writers recommend to people working on bettering their finances. When you get your paycheck, the first person that you pay is yourself. Simply choose the percentage of your paycheck that you want to save and place it into a special account. This little trick makes saving money easier because you never "see" the money. If you instead wait until the end of the month to try and fund your savings, there likely won't be anything left in the account.
Reduce Bill Game
As a family, look at the bills (electric, gas, water etc.) and devise ways to spend less than you did the previous year during the same month. This game is best played when you have the bill from the previous year to compare, but can also work using the previous month's bill if you haven't been saving your past bills. Take whatever savings you are able to obtain and place it into your special account.
This is a great game to play with the kids. When you give kids a goal to reduce the amount of energy used as part of a game, you may be surprised at how much more willing they are to help reduce energy costs compared to when you constantly remind them to turn off the lights.
Live a Raise Behind Game:
If you can learn to incorporate this game into your living habits, you won't need to play any of the other money saving games and will still end up with a nice retirement nest egg. It's one of the easiest ways to save a large amount of money over time. The next time you get a raise, instead of increasing your lifestyle to use up the raise, continue to live as if you never received it, placing the difference into your special account.
The next raise after that, you move your lifestyle spending habits up to where the previous raise had been, so after skipping the first raise, there isn't even any pain involved. You get a raise, just the one that you gave up the first time, meaning that you are always living on the money from one raise behind what you are actually receiving.
Continue Payment Game
This is an effective game to help save money once you get into the habit of making certain payments each month and it is much like the method used to help pay off credit card debt. When you have a bill that is finally paid off in full, instead of using the newly freed up money to buy something else, continue making the payment, only to yourself and into your special account.
For example, when you make your last payment on your car loan, instead of going out and spending that payment on something else the next month, simply pay the amount to your special account. Since you have already been paying this amount each month, you should be able to continue doing so with little pain to your normal spending habits.
Pay to Use Game
This is a wonderful game to play that will help ensure that you never have to pay for a major replacement purchase on credit again. After purchasing something, most people rarely think about the cost to use that item except maybe for the amount of energy it consumes. For example, you probably don't think about the cost of buying your washing machine or dryer each time you use them even though there will eventually be a cost to replace each. By implementing a pay to use game to use these appliances, you ensure that when any does need to be replaced, you have the money to do so.
For example, every time you do a load of laundry you pay $2, every time you use the TV you pay $1 and every time you drive the car you pay five dollars. You chose the amount, and pay it each time you use the specific appliance.
One of the great benefits of this game is that not only will you save the needed money for replacements, you'll also greatly reduce the amount you previously wasted using them. There's something about having to physically pay each time that will make you stop for that split second to evaluate whether you have a full load of laundry, whether the TV program is worth a dollar or whether you need to drive the car or can combine a trip with another trip the next day.
While subtle, this change in attitude will mean you use these things less often, which can generate great savings in lower energy costs and less wear on the appliances for even more savings.
By incorporating some of these money-saving games into your daily life, you'll find that saving money for your New Year's resolution which had been difficult in the past, isn't nearly as painful as you imagined it would be.