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Save Money by Making it a Game (Plus a Giveaway)

gameWhen I lie in bed at night and reflect on my day, I always sleep a little better if I made it through the day without spending a cent. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment. And it always sparks the thought: “let’s see if I can do it again tomorrow.”

I was in a meeting at work yesterday in which we were discussing ways to gamify one of our products. You see, the product is intended to help people with a very tedious task, and while it makes the process of completing the task much more efficient, it still doesn’t make it fun. So we thought that if we could build in a points system, or achievements, or a way to track your progress in a fun way, it would make people enjoy using the product more.

When I sat down to write this post, I kept thinking back to that meeting. Saving money and resisting the urge to buy things we don’t truly need is a tedious task, and introducing a “no spend” challenge is a great way to gamify that task. Spending money is fun. You get something tangible in exchange for your money, and that’s exciting. So if we want to be successful at saving money, we need to make that fun too.

Everyone likes accomplishing things. It doesn’t matter how minute or meaningless the accomplishment is (how many of us have spent hours playing Angry Birds trying to get three stars on every level?). If you can get excited about killing poorly animated pigs with birds flung out of a slingshot, you can get excited about saving money.

Start with just one day. Have coffee from the pot at work instead of Starbucks. Bring in a sandwich from home for lunch. Make dinner from whatever you already have in your refrigerator and pantry. Once you make it through one day, challenge yourself to do it again the next day. Keep a calendar some place prominent where you mark off each successful day. See how many days you can go without spending any money. Eventually you’ll have to go to the supermarket to restock your fridge and pantry, and that’s ok. You can’t cease spending money indefinitely.

I’m sure you’ve played around with games on your phone that have a list of achievements for you to accomplish, and whenever you cross off another achievement, you feel like you accomplished something. Create a similar list of achievements for your no spend challenge. The first achievement will be going one day without spending money. Then you could have achievements such as going two days without spending money, three days, five days, one week, two weeks; having 10 no spend days in a month, 15, 20. If you’re proud to have gotten three stars on all levels of Angry Birds, I promise you will be proud to have accomplished all of your no spend achievements.

And what better way to challenge yourself to not spend money than to give you $100 to lure you away from your goal? Enter the giveaway below to win $100, and I challenge the winner to not spend any of it (or use it to pay down debt).

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If you’re a blogger and would like to participate in future giveaways, check out for more information.

11 Responses to Save Money by Making it a Game (Plus a Giveaway)

  1. We make sticking to our budget a game\challenge as well, especially when it comes to how much we spend on groceries each month. It is much better then being upset about having to watch every dollar.

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      I love challenging myself to achieve financial goals. Every time I make it an entire week without spending any money, it makes me really happy. It probably gives me more satisfaction than anything I could have bought in that week would have given me.

  2. Drastic or extreme changes do not work. If you make small changes as you suggest of bringing your lunch once a week, skipping one coffee at Starbucks it is much easier. I used to go to Starbucks once a week, but I now go 1-2 times a month. A small change works!

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      Once you’ve started making small changes it becomes so much easier to build upon them. Short-term, incremental goals are the way to go!

  3. Great tip. Little changes can make such a huge difference to your bottom line. Plus you are so right that they build on themselves and become a fun game. Glad to co-host this with ya!

  4. Great tips and I agree with pretty much everyone else that making small changes can really have an impact on your bottom line. Making it a game or challenge would really help too, as you suggested.

  5. It is much harder to make drastic changes, since most of us don’t do well with changes. Baby steps is the way to go.

  6. My money is a game to me, and I love it! Ever since I got on a budget, it’s always been a fun challenge to see how much I can save in each category. What motivated us more was putting together a debt thermometer at one point and trying to increase our payoff amount each month.

    Finances are always about motivation, and whatever keep you motoivated to pay off debt, save more, etc. should be your method :)

    • Gen Y Finance Journey

      It’s kind of ridiculous how little things like a thermometer or a points system can motivate you so much… but they do! It’s interesting that on one end there are psychologists figuring out how to manipulate us into spending more money and on the other end there are psychologists figuring out how to make us enjoy saving money.

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