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6 ways to make saving fun

Does the thought of saving money make you feel overwhelmed? You're not alone. More than half of Americans don't have enough savings in an emergency fund to cover three months' worth of expenses. And full quarter have no savings for emergencies whatsoever.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can begin to reach your savings goals—even get ahead. As you do, you'll not only get rewarded with peace of mind but may even start to enjoy watching your bank accounts grow.

Have Fun Saving Money with These 6 Tips

Below are six ways you can make saving money less of a chore.

1. Gamify your savings plan—try a savings challenge.

Try to make saving a game to help stay motivated. After all, parents gamify chores for their kids. Employers gamify training for their employees. Why not gamify your savings plan? Try a savings challenge like a “no spend week" or a “saving swap month." If you take on the later challenge, choose one item a day on which you'd normally spend money, but instead transfer that same amount into your savings account. Walk or bike to a friend's place, for instance, instead of taking a ride service. Swap the $12 fare for putting an extra $12 into your savings account.

2. Partner with an accountability buddy.

You’ve  probably done something like this before. Workout buddies, diet partners or study groups, anyone? Just find a friend who also wants to save more money. Start by working out your monthly budgets and outlining your savings goals. After you make your plans, hold each other accountable. Depending on your situation, decide how often to check in on each other's saving habits and goals. Plus, it doesn't hurt to have a friend who'd rather go hiking for free over the weekend rather than spend money at the movie theater or out to eat. You could even create some friendly competition by creating milestones and rewards for whoever reaches it first.

3. Build a milestone timeline with rewards along the way.

Have a larger, long-term savings goal? Write down an achievable timeline and identify key milestones along the way. Make hitting those milestones not just satisfying but also fun by building in a reward. Let's say you want to save $7,500 for a down payment on a new car. If you already have $3,000 saved, that's $4,500 to go. Decide what amounts feel like milestones for you. Perhaps it's each additional $1,000. Then consider how you want to “celebrate" each time you reach a new milestone. If you're saving money by making every meal at home, for instance, maybe you treat yourself to a meal out with friends for each milestone met. And when you reach your goal, start shopping for that car.

4. Envision your savings goals and name your accounts accordingly.

Stay motivated to save by keeping the end game in mind. Define your savings goals and name each saving account to remind you of them. Watching the balance grow for an account called “Mountain Trip 2022" is more exciting than one called “Savings xxxx4233” or “Dream Home” helps when saving for a down payment on buying a house. This works even for important, less “fun" goals like paying your annual insurance premiums. Seeing the name helps make the goal a reality. 

5. Find new hobbies and simple pleasures.

The act of saving money may feel passive, but you can use it to make changes that enrich your lifestyle. If most of your hobbies and pastimes cost money, consider whether you can try new ones that are practically free: reading, hiking, practicing a new language, gardening, etc. Once you find these simple pleasures, spend more time doing them and less time on costly leisure activities.

6. Find creative ways to make and save extra money.

Building your savings is especially rewarding when it involves something you love. Consider whether you can turn any of your skills or hobbies into a side hustle. Do you love plants? Try making and selling succulent terrariums. Do you make graphic art? Sell prints in an online marketplace. Enjoy animals? Take up pet sitting in your community. Signing up as a sitter on websites offering these services, for instance, is easy and can bring in a new income stream.

As you start saving, you'll build good money habits into your lifestyle. You might even decide that saving your money is fun.

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