By Dr Eugene Brink
Face it: For most of us with poor self-discipline, saving money is difficult even at the best of times. We mostly like to spend money, not save it for some future purpose or a rainy day.
So, in order to undertake this important task, we need to make it fun and exciting. “Saving money doesn’t need to be a drag. There are plenty of fun ways to save money by creating games and challenges around your saving goals,” says Paula Pant, a personal finance expert and writer.
Here are a few ways that you could make saving an enjoyable exercise:
- Make it a game
We all like games, right? Challenge yourself to see how much food you can get at the supermarket for R300, how you can reduce your driving or how many Rands you can shave off your monthly electricity bill. Parsimonious practices can then be viewed as a puzzle to be solved instead of a burden imposed on you.
See, your creativity is used in order to save money and this feels a lot less restrictive than merely seeing it as a way of limiting your spending.
- Play the numbers game
Financial services provider Sanlam has some sage and fun advice on involving numbers in boosting your spending habits. “Sometimes it’s fun to pick a somewhat random number to save towards – one that means something only to you. Maybe it’s the birth date of your child: R2 010 isn’t that hard to achieve, right? Or maybe it’s your cell number: R82, then R354, then R6 342. You win! Arbitrary numbers trick your brain into thinking that you’re playing a game, instead of doing something ‘grown-up’ like saving.”
- Create a saving competition
“Call someone else who’s in a financial pinch: your sibling, your best friend, or your gym buddy. Challenge him or her to a save-off. The person who can save more money over the next month, or the next six months, wins the competition,” says Pant.
“You can negotiate how you define ‘saving more’. Is it measured by a raw number – awarded to whoever saves the highest amount of money? Or is it measured as a percentage of after-tax income? It could even be measured by each of your relative spending declines, as compared to how much each of you spent the previous year.”
She says irrespective of how you select a savings metric, it’s essential that the winner doesn’t win an expensive prize. “You might agree that the winner gets the joy of being able to gloat. Or you might decide that the loser should perform some service for the winner, such as washing the winner’s car. If you decide the prize should involve a cash outlay, it could be as simple as the winner receiving a homemade meal.”
- Save small and treat yourself to small rewards
Sanlam says it’s important to not let yourself feel deprived. “As long as you keep your eyes on the greater prize, allow yourself a little weekly splurge. Even a decadent hot chocolate can help give you a sense of balance.”
Also known as micro-investing, most people find it easier to save small amounts regularly than one big sum at a time. “So, if R500 feels like a lot to put away, put R100 in a savings account here, R150 there, cash in a jar etc. Soon you’ll see it add up without feeling like you are crippling yourself financially,” Sanlam says.
Moneyning, n.d., “5 Ways to Make Saving Money Fun”, https://moneyning.com/frugality/how-to-make-saving-money-fun/.
Paul Pant, 18 February 2019, “Finding fun ways to save money”, https://www.thebalance.com/fun-ways-to-save-money-games-and-competitions-453950.
Sanlam, 24 July 2017, “10 ways to make saving money fun”, https://www.sanlam.co.za/blog/articles/Pages/10-ways-to-make-saving-money-fun.aspx.