It’s true, saving money can be fun with the right attitude and a bit of creativity. You don’t have to spend a dime to gain a positive attitude; it’s all about making the decision to approach living a more frugal life as an adventure and opportunity instead of just looking at the restrictions.
How to Make Saving Money Fun
1. Learn to re-frame, that is to make a conscious effort to look at what you believe about a situation in a new way. For example, if you have to cut out cable to make ends meet you could either think:
I have to cut out cable to save money and now I will not get to watch any of the good shows right when they air.
By cutting out cable, I won’t be tempted to watch so much television so I’ll have more time to read and exercise!
Both statements are equally “true” but one is more motivating and positive. Instead of looking at your money saving efforts as deprivation and a hassle, find ways to see them as a challenge or an opportunity.
2. Pick concrete goals. Saving for retirement or a rainy day is important, but it does seem rather vague, doesn’t it? Take some time to think about what you ultimately want from life and then express it in a way that is concrete and easy to visualize.
Do you want to be able to buy a house in the country in five years? Travel to Europe? Retire to someplace warm and inviting?
Be specific so that you know exactly what you are working towards. Knowing that you are working towards a larger goal makes pinching pennies less grim, more great.
3. Make it a game. Challenge yourself to see how much healthy food you can get at the market for $50 or how many kilowatts you can shave off of this month’s bill. Look at frugal living as a puzzle to be solved instead of an imposition.
If you look at saving money as an opportunity to exercise your creativity, it feels a lot less restrictive if you only look at it as a way to limit your spending. Here are some ideas for fun challenges:
- Challenge your partner or a friend on who can come up with the best day or night out spending the least amount of money. Even if you lose this challenge, you still win.
- Keep a log of how much you save at the grocery store each week and try to beat it.
- Try to see how few miles you can drive each week.
- Give yourself a no-spend challenge where you try to go without spending any cash for a few days or a week.
4. Keep things in perspective. It’s easy to lose sight of just how lucky we are and compare ourselves to those above us. I was reading a story about a local high school where the average household income is $11,000, the crime rate in the zip code is the 14th highest in the nation and the infant mortality rate exceeds that of many third world countries. After reading that, it was hard to feel down in the dumps about not being able to afford a new outfit that I wanted.
Be grateful for what you have and stop obsessing about all the things that you can’t have or are giving up. This will allow you to better appreciate each moment and enjoy yourself, even if you’re making do with less.
5. Remember that almost all of the truly meaningful things in life don’t cost a thing. Sure, it’s fun to go out and do things that cost money, but at the heart of it, most of what makes these times special has very little to do with the amount of money we spent. Our most meaningful moments are usually:
- Spending time with those we love
- Exercising our creativity
- Getting into a state of flow
Find ways to get more of these things in your life instead of material possessions and you’ll find that your happiness increases along with the size of your savings account.