Although you may have your mind set on graduation parties, summer BBQs or upcoming vacations, it’s important to keep tabs on any savings goals you set out to achieve. With all the distractions of summer, these can quickly fall off the radar. But, like anything we may not want to do (I’m looking at you gym or dieting…), you can implement creative strategies to pursue your goal while keeping it fun and entertaining for yourself. After all, we don’t want to deprive ourselves of any enjoyment, especially as we’re turning the corner into summer fun.
Here are 5 creative ways you can play a mental game with yourself, while supporting your savings fund (1):
- Go Old School Piggy Bank: using a piggy bank is an important lesson we often use for kids, but the notion is just as relevant for adults. The idea is to save any excess change (or dollars) by putting it away in a piggy bank, which can add up over the long run.
Today, resources such as Coinstar kiosks make it incredibly easy to count your change for you – you don’t even need to do the hard part of counting it all up. Just empty the piggy bank into one of these machines and it will let you know how much you have. Be aware, some of these will charge a transaction fee for cash redemption, so you might want to consider trading in your coins for a gift card to avoid it.
You can also make it fun! Find a piggy bank you want to have front-and-center in your bedroom or home. Whether it’s a favorite sports team, beverage or hobby – you can often find or make a piggy bank to match it.
- Address a Bad Habit: we’ve all heard of the curse jar, right? This is a similar concept, except you determine the bad habit that needs addressing, the amount you will be penalized and how you’d like to use your “bad habit funds” at the end. For example, if you’ve been trying to shed those last few pounds, consider putting $5 in the weight loss jar if you splurge on that cookie or miss that work out. This can even be a family activity, where each member chooses their penalty and is responsible for paying up if it’s missed.
- Designate a Bill Rule: this may sound too simplistic, but whatever works, right? Whenever you receive a specific bill, let’s say $10, you set it aside. Determine what that bill amount is and where you will stash them, and let the game begin. If you think it sounds ineffective, one college professor claims she saved $40,000 in 13 years by setting aside $5 bills. The key is to stick with the game plan, and stay committed to the special bill.
Daily Savings Game: set aside a pre-determined and routine amount each and every day to see the balance add up. For example, using the nickel challenge – you put in 5 cents on day 1, 10 cents on day 2, 15 cents on day 3, and so on. The most you’ll put in on a single day is on day 365 with $18.25, and you will have saved a total $3,339.75 for the year.
You can also change this up to be a weekly challenge – you put in $1 on week 1, $2 on week 2, $3 on week 3, and so on. Once you have put in $52 for week 52, you will have saved $1,378.
This is a great way to keep your mind focused each day or week on your goal. It’s also a fun way to watch it add up toward the end. You can even create a thermometer or visual representation everyone in the house can see -- a white board or paper hanging on the fridge that shows the amount growing. Once the final payment is made, it likely calls for a celebration!
- Follow the 1/3 Rule: this rule becomes relevant when you receive a bonus or lump sum of cash. Instead of putting it all toward that shopping spree or night out, instead break it into thirds: one-third to savings, one-third to debt and one-third to something special for yourself. This way you don’t feel you missed an opportunity to use your hard-earned money, but are also supporting your other financial goals.
Nobody said saving couldn’t be fun. Consider trying a new strategy to keep your tactics fresh, all the while supporting the important financial goals you have set out to achieve. While you’re at it, make it fun for the whole family by including them in the ‘game.’ Good luck!