Play Family Financial Games to Spend Less (And Yes, They’re Fun)!

by Jeremy Hartley · 9 comments

family board game
All of us grew up playing games of some sort. Whether it was Tiddlywinks, Game of Life, Candy Land, or some good ol’ fashioned Monopoly, I’m sure we have fond memories of having some family fun around the card table. Now that we’re adults and have transitioned to “grown up things”, it doesn’t mean we have to forsake our inner child. Turning everyday chores into games can give us the motivation to complete our tasks. We may end up being more thorough in the process too. Plus, we can even bring some games into our financial lives to improve our finances. Try a few of these that I practice right now.

“The Plastic Fast”

The plastic rectangle in our pockets can be tamed. That’s the name of this game. Once a week/four times a month, give your debit and credit cards a fast and leave them at home. Commit to not using it at all for 24 hours and see if you can do it. Getting into the habit of leaving our money at home can help us from making unnecessary purchases. You will be surprised to see how much money was saved after a month. Added bonus: No online shopping that day will earn even extra savings. Like any game, you need to be strategic about the whole thing. For instance, you’ll need to train yourself to make sure to have gas and meals a day beforehand. Knowing that you’re about to do a 24 debit card fast will help your shop smart for those meals too. This game will save you some extra cash from extra purchases that you may otherwise spend on a whim.

“Poor George”

This game will especially pay dividends if you carry cash instead of a credit card. Simply refuse to spend your change, specifically the dollar bills. For instance, if you buy lunch for $7.81 and use a $10, put the extra $2.19 off to the side and don’t spend the change. At your convenience, place those loose ones in a jar and put a little “Do Not Open” on the container for a given amount of time. If you put a 3 month time line on it, stick to the plan. After the deadline passes, count up your savings and enjoy. I recently did this and found that I had an extra $237.88 to spare! That number is now the “score to beat” and hopefully I’ll break the record in a few months.

“Lunch Tracker”

This may be an app right up your alley if you have a smart phone and typically eat out. Lunch Tracker is a free app to help you track your meal spending. Eating out can be an easy offender to our wallets, so the folks at Visa developed a fun way to track those meals and put that spending up against how many times you’re packing a lunch (which can be so much cheaper). This tracker turns the process into a game as it motivates you to pack your lunch more than eat out. This app is particularly fun and helpful if you choose the “30 Day Challenge”. After a few days of tracking, it’s easy to become acutely aware of how much you’re spending in the drive-thru.

These are the games I’m currently playing. Do you have any financial games that you enjoy?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • F S says:

    I’m not sure which is scarier – leaving my home without my credit card or leaving without my cell phone.

    My “impulse” buys tend to be going out to eat or online purchases.

    I have a goal that unless my lunch involves networking of some sort, I will bring it from home rather than go out.

    And as far as online shopping, maybe I need to have Ms. Financial Slacker change my password to something I don’t know for a while.


    • David @ says:

      Just try leaving your credit card at home and see what happens. The worst that can happen is that you ordered some food and then you realize you don’t have money to pay for it after you eat. If that happens then just call someone to help you, or leave your phone or something and go get money to pay them back. Either way, you will end up saving since you will remember that you don’t have purchasing power most of the time.

  • Ryder Davidson says:

    Great Idea !! I have tried this “The Plastic Fast” !! its really working. I can able to control unnecessary purchases. Thank very much !!

  • Jessica Parla says:

    Bummer, I thought you were going to suggest some actual finance-related board games! Oh well, these are pretty neat too 🙂

  • FT says:

    “That number is now the “score to beat” and hopefully I’ll break it in a few months.”

    While rounding on a purchase and saving the remainder isn’t bad, trying to break the record would simply mean making more transactions. That shouldn’t be a goal. Fewer transactions should be the goal. No one frugal should be able to save a significant amount in this manner.

    • Jeremy Hartley says:

      Frugal Troll,

      Great insight! I should have clarified. I won’t be adding transactions to my goal. Frugality will help me to think through transactions more carefully, and saving the extra change will help build a small “go to” egg if I were to need it. Thanks for the comment!

    • David @ says:

      Good point 🙂

      I’m sure you’ve given Jeremy a bit to think about!

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