Everyone knows how important a budget is to their financial health, but plenty of people live without one. Why? Most of us give up on our budgets because they’re boring. Just like folding the laundry or dusting the baseboards, budgeting can feel like a chore you’d rather ignore.
But go too long without this essential spending plan, and you can easily lose track of your financial goals. You might spend far beyond your means, leaving you with less money to save for unexpected events and repairs, vacations, and long-term plans like retirement. You might even rely on short term personal loans when your savings fall flat in an emergency. These days, budgeting is often taught to high school students, and many college classes touch on key financial questions and scenarios to help students learn how to budget.
If you're not in high school or college, what are your options when you feel as though your brain shuts off every time you attempt a monthly budget? Adults often need help with balancing the amount of money they spend and what comes into the bank account on a regular basis.
Gamification can help you beat the budget blues and achieve your financial goals when this spending plan feels like a chore. If you are a big fan of online game apps and gaming in general, keep scrolling to find out how it works and how to play the best budget games.
What is Gamification?
Gamification injects a bit of fun and friendly competition into your monthly budget so that you forget you’re putting in all that hard work to save money or pay off debt. It does this by using the building blocks of games, like having a quest or earning rewards, and applying them to your finances.
Gamification works because it turns the usual chore of budgeting on its head, which can be refreshing for those who have hit a rut with their finances. Think of it as a budget game. This concept basically works as making a chore fun, just like the game of Life- the old board game we know and have all played at one time or another.
Another perk to gamifying your budget is how it helps you redefine your financial goals under the SMART goal method.
What is the SMART goal? It stands for Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, the SMART method helps you break down large, overwhelming goals into smaller steps. Outlining your financial goals this way is one of the top tips to help you manage your money better, as it helps you focus on what’s achievable in the here and now. If you have young people in the family in budgeting and money management classes, you might have heard of this method already.
Gamifying helps you celebrate the small victories rather than wait years before you pay off online loans or save an emergency fund. This can encourage you to stick with your financial goals, no matter how hard they might be. While the method may be different, the ultimate reward is real life goals being met.
What Are the Best Budgeting Games?
Let’s face it — you can gamify your budget any way you like. But for most of us, we need some inspiration when it comes to our finances. That’s where these budgeting games come in. They’re a great way for adult learners to gamify their financial decisions and refine their money management skills.
The 52-Week Challenge
The 52-Week Challenge is one of the best games because it’s so simple. While it starts with a small savings goal, it compounds this goal every week until you reach the end of the year. Keep in mind this depends on how much money you have available to set aside. Take a look at the overall plan first.
Most people commit to saving $1 in the first week, and every week thereafter you save an extra dollar. That means you’ll save $2 in week two, $3 in week three, and so on until you reach week 52. By then, you’ll have set aside $1,378, proving you don’t need to deposit huge chunks of cash to save.
You can use this extra cash to pay off an outstanding credit card bill or make a pre-payment on an online loan. And if you use a credit card with cash-back rewards for all of your purchases, you can save even more money for a rainy day. This challenge is also a great way to kick-start your savings if you’re focused on building an emergency fund.
While you can move money electronically, printing out a chart of this challenge can serve as an excellent reminder for your daily savings goal. You can cross out each day you save on your free printable and feel even more accomplished.
The Rounding-Up Challenge
Your financial obligations rarely price out to a round number. From grocery shopping to paying bills, things usually calculate to something odd — $57.98 for groceries or $182.43 for electricity. While these uneven amounts may not be nice and round, they serve as a fantastic opportunity to save.
You can do this by hand by rounding every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and investing that rounded-up money into a worthwhile cause like an emergency fund or retirement fund.
Does this sound like too much work? You can download apps that automate this challenge, so you don’t have to lift a finger to save the change. Some online banks also offer to do this on your behalf by rounding up every purchase you make with that account and transferring the extra cash into a savings account.
The Round-Up Challenge is also a great way to put more money into your debt. If your financial institution permits pre-payments, you can round up your online loan payment to the nearest denomination. For example, if your monthly payment towards an installment loan is just $84.43, budget so that you can send $90 instead.
Saving the pocket change we end up seeing back day to day is one of the ways to save money day to day without seeing large amounts taken out of the checking account. For you adults, it may also make visualizing the checking account easier, since the expenses you make are rounded up.
The No-Spend Challenge
If you’re finding it hard to resist impulse buys, you aren’t alone. Whether you’re walking down the aisles at the grocery store or perusing the digital shelves of your favorite clothing brand, it’s all too easy to fill your cart with small treats and luxuries.
At just $5 or $10 here and there, you might not think much of these little splurges, but they add up when you’re buying something extra every time you shop.
To help you quell these impulsive purchases, challenge yourself not to spend money for a specific time. Maybe you say you won’t spend money during the work week, or maybe you want to avoid all discretionary spending for a whole month. Whatever you choose, stick with it. If you manage to hit a streak, you can reward yourself with a small treat.
The best way to get started on any no spend challenge is to set yourself ground rules. For example, limit it to a certain category of expenses, whether it be trips to buy new clothing, the coffee shop, or no restaurant dining in meals. It may require some planning ahead and letting your social circle know you may be skipping a few dinners out or shopping trips, but don't worry. You can always set your own timeline and start small. Who knows, you may decide no spending days or challenges are the right choice for you to avoid expensive impulse buys!
Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring, tedious, or hard. It can be as easy as setting up your bank to save your spare change. Remember this if you’re finding it hard to stick to your financial goals to save more and pay off debt. You stand a better chance of reaching these goals by making your budget into a fun game or challenge.
Be aware that setting a budget is just one aspect of financial success for young adults. Be smart about student loans, income, those credit cards and credit card statements, and more. Being smart and thinking about your income and expenses on a daily basis can help avoid a financial headache later on that can come about if it's ignored. Be sure to check out more lifestyle posts and money-saving tips, including online deals at ConsumerQueen.com!