Let’s face it, saving money is never particularly fun. Up until recently, I had everything on automatic transfer so I didn’t have to think too hard about the dollars disappearing from my checking account each month. I’ve never had a large income by any stretch of the imagination, but I was raised on the importance of saving and I didn’t want to let those lessons go to waste. It was never fun though and I’m all about fun. So, I thought, couldn’t I find a way to make contributing to savings something to look forward to each month instead of something to dread? After all, if it was a little more fun, I might even be tempted to save more. So listed below is my quirky method for saving. It may not work for everyone (impulse spenders beware!) and I know that saving isn’t always a number one financial priority, but this method works for me, so check it out if you want to try something new:
Lesson One: Make it real. I’m in my twenties. Shoveling away money for a theoretical and potentially far-off need really doesn’t hold much appeal. So, I started visualizing exactly where that money might go and where I might use it in the future. For instance, I didn’t put one or two hundred into savings, I “bought” a theoretical “square foot” of a future home. An exact square foot. I know where this imaginary square foot is, what it looks like, what it feels like beneath my bare feet, what’s around it and what’s in it. For instance, maybe I “bought” that slate piece of tile to the left of the front door in the entryway. At least, in my imagination. Or, I would buy a nice “meal” for my retirement. But not just any meal. It’s my 67th birthday dinner at the nice restaurant downtown where I ordered the duck breast with the cranberry confit and got tiramisu for dessert. Think of it as a VERY long term reservation or gift card.
Quirky? Yes. Effective? Yes, at least for me. If you want to try this method, don’t worry about making it completely realistic or living up to these exact details later. When later comes, you will probably just be glad you put forth the effort into saving. If it makes things more real for you, write down what you have “purchased” or make a wish list of what you want to “buy” with your savings.
Lesson Two: Make it fun. Whatever else it is, money is ultimately a tool to get what we want in life. So why not make it a fun tool? After putting money into savings, I will go on Pinterest or Amazon or some other site and “shop” for future items and adding them to a board or a wish list. You are welcome to choose whatever venue you like best. Have fun with it! Go all out. It’s not like you have to worry about budgeting for your hypothetical future items just yet (especially if you are in your twenties or thirties), so why not pin that designer sofa or that Italian villa you’ve been dying to visit? And why not treat yourself a little every once in a while for being so good, maybe when you meet a particular goal? Just make sure that you reward yourself in a way that doesn’t detract from your savings.
Personally, I like this method because I’m in a sense enjoying my savings both now and when I eventually cash it out. I can even explore what aspects of things I am saving up for might even be available to me now. For instance, I might not be able to enjoy that beautiful Italian villa, but there is a beautiful and free hiking trail just down the road that is just as scenic. I may even be able to meet some of my life goals without putting forth a lot of money and saving for years to do so. It’s a nice exercise in perspective.
Lesson Three: Make it worth it. Ultimately, you are not saving because you feel like you “should” or because it is the “right” thing to do. You are saving because you are worth it. You have every right to use your hard-earned money as a tool to get what you want out of life, whatever that may be. Think of what you need and want and go for it! Remember that you deserve to spend your money how it will best benefit your life personally. For me, that means saving some of my money for later while enjoying the simple things in life now. It’s worth it to me to save this way because I am saving for things I want for my future while enjoying the process of saving today. With a slight adjustment in perspective, saving money can go from a chore of deprivation to a gift of star treatment. Just keep reminding yourself that you are worth every penny!