Video games may seem to be a waste of time, but for a lot of people they are a really fun way to waste time. It’s not surprising that cell phones and Facebook have given rise to a whole new group of intense gamers. Games such as Angry Birds, Bejeweled and FarmVille may seem silly, but they capitalize on our curiosity and our competitive nature.
Gaming doesn’t have to be a waste of time. You can employ the tactics used in your favorite games to help you better your financial management and while you may not end up saving a real-life princess, they will get you closer to gaining financial freedom.
4 Financial Gamification Ideas
- Unlock badges to win prizes. Saving money is one of the most difficult challenges people face when trying to rehab their finances. Create a system where you get a badge (such as a sticker) every time you raise the balance of your savings account by $100. After earning five badges, reward yourself with something that costs less than $30.
- Level up. In games, leveling up is important because it lets you fight bigger foes and gives you a new set of skills. To level up in finance, you have to increase the amount of money you have to save or use to pay down debt. In order to do that, you have to find ways to reduce your bills and your overall spending. Every time you reduce your spending enough to regularly contribute another $30 to savings or debt repayment, allow yourself to “level up” and take a small portion of that money (no more than $5) to increase your fun spending.
- Slay the boss. Wait—no, not your real boss. At the end of every level in a game, there’s usually a big, bad boss waiting to be conquered. This will be the hardest enemy you vanquish on that level. In real life, the “bosses” you want to slay are your various debts. Each time you get rid of one, prepare yourself to move on to the next.
- Upgrade. Lots of games have equipment that you can upgrade, be it a sword, armor or tractor. In life, there are lots of things we want to upgrade too, such as appliances, coffee makers and outfits. Instead of going into debt to pay for these upgrades, start collecting your change at the end of every day in a large jar. As you watch the jar fill, you’ll know you’re getting closer to being able to afford to pay for that upgrade with cash. Every time the jar fills, you can bring it to the bank to get cash and then set that cash aside specifically to go toward your upgrades.