It is no secret that we’re a gaming family. I write often about what video games do for us and how we do not fear or shun them. But after reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, I have begun to think of games in a different light. I have realized that I can turn frugality into a game.
Games need not be connected to a screen. And they are incredibly helpful in ordinary life. Let me explain.
Anything Can Be a Game – Even Frugality
I wrote a while ago about how my husband and I went out shopping only to come home with a coffee spoon. And that led me to think about frugality in general.
I treat much of my grocery shopping and budgeting in the house as a game. This is how: I begin with a template of our budget. And with the help of a budgeting program, prepare one each month. (We use Every Dollar, but there are countless others.)
Then, the game begins.
The idea is to shave as much off as I can in every category. I will admit that the harder and longer you play this game, the more difficult it gets. Just like in every game, there are easy entry points. When you first start budgeting, you see all the ways money leaks out. But as you begin to tighten it, at some point there are some tough levels to beat.
The caveat here is to set some money aside as fun money. I’m with Dave Ramsey on this. Budgeting does not mean torturing yourself. And it helps to have something you can spend on anything.
The payoff for shaving slivers off other categories can be whatever you decide as rewards for yourself. They will be tied to your unique personality, so remember that. (If you’re a very social person, you might want to play this with a friend or two. Create a Facebook group, maybe?)
My payoff is plugging in numbers into the app. Yeah, I know. But it makes me happy. And then I know I’ve won – or get to try again, as the case may be. If I haven’t saved anything, there’s always next week or next month. In this game, I always have unlimited lives.