Saving money is necessary to accomplish a wide range of goals. Having some cash saved helps you prepare for emergencies to not end up broke in your later years. Unfortunately, saving often seems like it’s about sacrifice. If you’re looking at years of giving up lattes and dining out with no payoff, it’s natural to not get excited.
But setting aside money for the future doesn’t have to be a big downer. In fact, there are four things you can do right now to make saving money fun thing instead of something you haveto do.
1. Visualize specific goals
Most of the time, you save money when you’re saving for something that matters to you. So one way to make saving more exciting is to picture the things you’re saving for.
You can do this by creating separate savings accounts for each specific goal. You might have a fund for a home down payment or for a trip.
When your funds are earmarked for something specific, you can picture yourself getting closer to that goal. Each dollar you transfer to savings instead of spending is a step toward your goal. When you’re cooking at home for another night, picture that cash piling up in your home down payment fund. And think about what it will be like to cook in your very own kitchen one day.
You can even make visual reminders of those goals so you don’t get discouraged. If you’re saving for a house down payment, tape a picture of your dream home to your wallet. When you pull it out and are tempted to spend, you’ll see the house. You can picture yourself living in it. That may make passing up a latte seem more worth it.
2. Track your progress
Saving money can be a lot of fun if you can see the progress you’re making. Find a way to put this progress on display for yourself. There are tons of different ways to do that.
You could make a paper chain and add a link each time your savings grows by $100 or $1,000. Or build a LEGO tower with each brick representing $100 in additional savings. Or go the simple route and make a thermometer you color in as you get closer to your goal. Why not a chart that breaks down your savings goals into $100 or $1,000 increments that you draw a star in each time you hit a new milestone?
It may seem silly and childish, but there are reasons those sticker charts motivate kids. When you can look back and see how much you’ve accomplished, you’re more likely to stay on track.
3. Make it a game
If you have a competitive nature, try challenging a friend or your spouse to see who can have the most “no-spend days” in the course of a month. Or see who can spend the least during the course of a week. Or challenge yourself to see how low your spending can go in a day or how long you can go without buying anything new.
If you’re not into challenges, you could save every $5 bill you get back in change or save every bill printed after a certain date. This makes the process of saving fun — you’ll never know when you’ll get one of those bills.
4. Enlist a buddy
It’s always more fun to do things with a friend. Enlist a friend or loved one to take part in savings games or challenges with you. You can also have regular check-ins about how you’re doing on savings goals. When you have someone else working alongside you to accomplish big things, the process is a lot more enjoyable. You’re also more likely to be motivated since you’re reporting your progress to someone else.
You can make saving money fun
Try some of these tricks today and see if you end up saving more. It’s all about changing your mindset so saving doesn’t feel like an obligation. Try to make it something you want to do because it’s enjoyable, instead. That will help you accomplish the things that matter to you.
The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule. If we wouldn’t recommend an offer to a close family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Ascent either. Our number one goal is helping people find the best offers to improve their finances. That is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.