Do you have trouble motivating yourself to reach certain financial goals? Or does it take a little extra to get you excited about the thought of saving money or paying off debt?
Not everyone is goal-oriented or self-motivated, and that’s okay. It can be difficult to focus on goals when there’s so much else competing for our attention.
In that case, why not turn your financial goals into a game? By that I mean adding fun elements like rewards, points, and competition into the mix, so you have something else keeping you going along the way.
If you’re a competitive person who loves keeping track of an imaginary scoreboard between you and everyone else, or if you’re motivated more by rewards, then this could be what you need to succeed at your goals.
Get a Competition Going Among Your Friends
Are you and your friends trying to reach a similar goal, like paying off student loan debt, credit card debt, or saving for a vacation? Consider rounding everyone up to see if they’d be interested in making a game out of reaching the shared goal. Compete to see who can reach the goal first or make the most progress in a certain amount of time.
It’s kind of like going to the gym or exercising with someone. You get the benefit of having accountability buddies, and you can all work to motivate each other toward the goal.
However, as we’ve said before, knowing the why behind your goal is important. Before the competition starts, you and your friends should get together and discuss why you want to succeed, and what your hopes are for the future.
For example, maybe you all want to pay your student loans off because you’re tired of not being able to afford to move out of your parent’s place, or because you feel like you can’t move forward with your lives.
You all hope that once the debt is paid off, you can move onto other major milestones, like saving for a wedding, a house, or a new car. Or maybe you want to look for your dream job outside your current city.
Light hearted goals, like saving for a joint vacation, can be fun to do as a simple competition. You’re all committed to going already, and you can tie the reward in with the vacation. Maybe the person who manages to save the most gets the biggest room at the house you’re renting.
Whatever you do, make it fun and cheer each other on! Yes, it’s a competition, but as many of you know, money can be a sensitive topic. If your friends aren’t having an easy time with the challenge, be sure to help them figure out what’s going wrong and suggest ways they can improve.
Reward Yourself Along the Way
Let’s face it – most financial goals take a while to complete. It’s very easy to lose momentum along the way. To keep yourself going, give yourself rewards you can work toward along the way.
Some people recommend rewarding yourself at major milestones, but go a step further and outline your rewards first. This way, you’re working toward something more concrete than a mini-celebration.
For example, say you have $10,000 of debt you need to pay down. You can reward yourself for every $1,000 you pay down:
- At $9,000, buy yourself a book you’ve been excited to read
- At $8,000, go out to dinner
- At $7,000, reward yourself with something you’ve had your eye on for a while
- At $6,000, take a day trip to a favorite spot
And so on and so forth. The important thing here, of course, is that you budget for these rewards ahead of time, don’t go overboard, and pay cash for them. You don’t want to add to your debt!
You can always shift the rewards around depending on what motivates you the most at a certain time. In general, I think “saving the best for last” works well here, as you’ll need the most push toward the end.
DC has another method called the “financial bridge” technique that complements this idea. You’re setting smaller, actionable goals to guide you toward your big goal.
Let’s say you want to pay off your $10,000 debt in 2 years. You need to pay $416 per month to achieve that. Where can you come up with the money? Maybe you can work overtime each week for an extra $100, and have the other $300 come from a mix of freelance writing and social media management.
Essentially, you’re breaking down your ultimate goal by creating a bridge (smaller goals) to get there. This works well if you’re overwhelmed and have no idea where to start!
Take Part in a Challenge
There are many challenges you can take to help you save money (and put more money toward debt). Some of these challenges you can do on your own, and other challenges are part of a larger movement (some bloggers issue challenges to their followers and create a group around it).
Doing a shopping ban or having no-spend days is extremely popular in the blogosphere, but you should take a challenge that addresses a problem you’ve been having or is in line with your overall goals.
For example, I would never choose to do a shopping ban because, well, I rarely shop for anything outside the basic necessities. I don’t have an overspending problem in any common area, such as groceries or clothes.
However, if you’ve been struggling to tell yourself “no” when it comes to certain things, then perhaps it’s time for a challenge. Do you spend a lot of money on clothes, lunch, coffee, or fast food? See if you can make it a week or two without buying any, and then challenge yourself to go longer!
Double up on Your Goals
Do you have any other goals you’re working toward that aren’t necessarily finance-related? Maybe you want to learn a new skill, take a course, read a few books, or exercise more.
Double up on your goals by committing to not spending until you reach your other goal. For example, say you want to get outside and walk more. Tell yourself you can’t buy lunch out until you walk for an hour each day of the week.
It helps if your secondary goal is something you’re more excited about, so it can carry you through the rough times.
Change Your Approach
Sometimes, all you need is a tiny change in your mindset to see your financial goals in a new and exciting light.
One analogy I’ve always loved is thinking of your overall financial plan like a lifelong road trip. When you graduate from college, you’re just starting out, but the end game for most of us is working toward retirement.
You can only achieve retirement if you put all the necessary pieces in place throughout your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.
I’m going to get literal here and say you can think of your entire financial plan as one huge game. You get quests along the way you need to complete for “experience,” and you level up along the way until you reach the end. Well, our financial journey never really ends, but hopefully you get the idea!
There are many ways you can turn your financial goals into a game. It’s all about finding what works for you and gets you the most excited. The entire point is to have fun and get motivated to build good financial habits that will continue to serve you well.
Have you ever turned your finances into a game? What tricks have you used to get motivated to reach your financial goals?