How to make saving fun

By Heather Larson

Keep track…budget…cut back…eliminate…go without…

Those are all words that can make the average person cringe. None of it sounds like fun, but more like drudgery. What about words like bonus, rewards, retail therapy, must-have and of course BOGO (buy one get one free)? We like those words, and marketers like them too because they make buying appealing.

Why shouldn't saving be as enjoyable as buying? Here are 10 tips on how to make saving money less of a chore:

  1. Play an online savings game. On Piggymojo, you set weekly goals for the amount of money you want to save. Whenever you pass up a purchase, you text the amount to Piggymojo, which computes how close that gets you to your goal. You get your own web page with images of your goals, like a beach vacation or new car. The images are hidden at first and then slowly revealed in a puzzle-type format as your "saves" add up.

  2. Get your friends to root for you. Track your savings goals on SmartyPig, a free online service that lets you share your successes on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Your friends and followers can also contribute to your online savings. When you have reached a goal, you can request a SmartyPig debit card loaded with the amount you saved.

  3. See the bright side. Re-frame your situation in a different way. For instance, say you've sold your car or just aren't using it as much because of gas prices, and you're using public transportation. If you catch yourself thinking of that as inconvenient or a chore, try viewing it as an opportunity to see more of your neighborhood or town, people-watch, get more exercise or read a good novel.

  4. Make saving a game. When two people play a game, that's always more fun. Challenge your partner or friend to see who can go the most days without spending any cash or who spends the least amount on a new outfit. If you can't talk someone else into engaging in a competition, then keep a log of how much you save at the grocery store each week, using coupons and buying sale items. Try to beat the dollar amount saved one week on the next week's shopping trip. Put that saved amount in one of the best checking accounts.

  5. Choose tangible goals. Instead of saving for the broad concept of "retirement," think about what you'd like to spend money on after you've quit working. Do you want to travel to Italy or take a long cruise? Would having a vacation cabin make you happy? Perhaps being a snowbird, who spends winters in a warm climate and summers in a cool one, appeals to you. Pick something you can visualize to save for.

  6. Create a cooking club. Shopping in bulk and cooking in large portions saves both money and time. Why not do it with friends? Gather as many people as can comfortably move around in your kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday. Ask each of them to bring enough ingredients to make a meal for each of the participants. So at the end of the session, if there are four of you, each one will have four different meals to take home and freeze for the upcoming week.

  7. Find free and low-cost activities. Instead of spending $40-$50 for a night at the movies, go see a second-run film for $2 apiece or better yet, volunteer at your local community theatre and see a performance for no charge. Take the money you've saved and stash it in a high APY savings account.

  8. Got gift cards you'll never use? Clean out your clutter and use those gift cards you don't want as a means to pay utilities or auto loans online. ChargeSmart and PlasticJungle have partnered so consumers can pay certain bills online. You may get up to 92 percent of the value of your unwanted gift cards depending on the market demand for that particular card.

  9. Trick yourself. If you finish making payments on a car or a computer, continue to make that same payment into your savings account. Your budget will never miss it.

  10. Save found money. Whether you receive a rebate check, find money in an old coat, save your pocket change every night or get paid for participating in a focus group, take that extra cash and deposit it. When you don't blow that money, it's putting you closer to your goal and accruing interest.

Try one or more of the above tips to make saving less of a chore, and compare the best savings account rates and features online to find the best account for your needs.