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I have a confession to make: I am not a natural saver. While I like having the comfort and security of knowing that I have a nice fat emergency fund as my cushion between me and life, there is a part of me that would love to be able to spend that money on a whole myriad of things. That’s part of the reason that I had to give up credit cards for good. I had to set up guard rails on my spending so that I would actually have money around for the things that I needed.
When you are a natural spender, it’s tough to get started with spending. It doesn’t feel fun. You aren’t sure how to get started. Saving feels constrictive and limiting and you feel like you are missing out on the fun stuff in life – a ton of FOMO. You may also feel like you aren’t even sure if you have money to save because you always seem to come up short. And you’re pretty sure that having all of these savings will make you feel worse than better.
Being a natural spender and going at this whole money thing alone has made it tough for me to save. I don’t have a partner who is a natural saver who could help keep me in check when my spending gets out of hand or I want to dip into savings for that impulse buy. So how do I manage to save money when it’s not my natural mode?
I have learned over the years that gamifying (yes – this is a real word!) my savings is the way to make sure I have enough money in the bank. You see, I am a little bit competitive and I also love playing games and keeping score so making a game out of my savings goals is a great way to motivate me to save without making it painful or constrictive. It’s a great way to make personal finance fun. I know – right? Who knew?? Turning an aspect of money into something that can be fun and energizing is a great way to get you on board – even if it is something that you are not naturally inclined to do, like save.
So, what are some fun tactics that I have used over the years to start my savings? Here are just a few to get you started.
Start a Savings Competition Within Your Budget
One of the easiest ways I find to save money is to make it a competition to see how much bang I can get for my buck when shopping. If I have a budget of $100 for groceries for the week, I see how much I can buy to cover my meals on the least amount of dollars. Any money that I save from my food budget that week goes into an envelope (I use cash for my groceries) to save for some splurge that I really want – like a fabulous pair of shoes! – that may not be in the budget.
Collect Your Coins
For those of you who still use cash like me, collecting loose change is a great painless way to save money. When I get change back from making a purchase, I plink those coins into my savings bank. I bought a really fun digital piggy bank that keeps track of all the money I have been collecting. Here’s a picture of the one I have been using to collect my change. I have made a treasure hunt out of scouring my home looking for loose change to add to the bank. And while I am in the process of collecting change, I get to dream about what I use the money for once the bank is full.
Use Technology to Gamify
Through the power of apps and technology, savings can become automated by setting up rules in your spending. The apps analyze your purchases and then will round up your charges to the next dollar, putting those extra cents into savings. It’s an easy and almost mindless way of saving money that you won’t miss. Many of the apps allow you to create categories for savings targets, like a vacation or new clothes that you want to purchase. One of my favorite apps is Qapital – check it out to start saving money today!
Using a Raise to Create a Fun Money Goal
One of the easiest ways to save money is when you get a raise. Instead of increasing your lifestyle cost – which most of us do – use the increase to increase your savings or retirement investing. But since this is a list for fun ways to save, add some of that increase for a fun savings goal – like a dream vacation to Hawaii or an amazing concert you want to attend. Your raise doesn’t have to all go to future long-term savings. You’ve worked hard for that increase so make sure you treat yo’self now as well!
Bring Out Your Inner Culinary Bad Ass Self
Packing your lunch each day is a great way to save money – and calories. But your lunches don’t have to be boring sandwiches every day. Get creative! Check out new recipes on the innerwebs and have a marathon cooking session on the weekends. Experiment with new ingredients and let your creative juices flow by trying new foods or different ways to cook. I have fallen in love with my Instant Pot over the last year and it has saved me literally hundreds of dollars per month in food savings. Take those dollars saved to spend on a new outfit or a really nice night out with the girls!
Saving money doesn’t have to be painful or hard. It’s simply finding easy ways to cut back or virtually mindless ways to collect the extra change that you won’t even notice. All of these savings will add up and you will be amazed at how much extra you have on hand to do the fun and amazing things you have always dreamed of. So, go start saving with these ideas and watch the cash pile up!