Play Games To Save Money And Achieve Your Goals!

It’s difficult to save money and not splurge on things you want.  Let’s face it, those financial goals you made this year will need as much help as you can get.  One of the key ways I save is to play games.  Let me show you what I mean.


Last July, I made a resolution not to spend any money on things other than basic necessities such as food and my bus pass in September.  Even filling up Moose with gas was pretty much off-limits as we decided to do a lot of biking, walking, and carpooling instead.

By naming September, Samurai September, the game was set in motion to see if I could succeed.  Not only did I not spend any money that month, I didn’t spend any money in October either!  I wanted to beat the rules of my game, and break the record by as far a margin as possible.  The feeling is just like trying to smash the Pacman record by a wide margin, so nobody will ever unseat you.


The game is really easy and fun to implement.  Pick something that you hope for, and not spend on anything until your hopes turn true.

1) Until… the 49ers and Redskins make the playoffs.  I love the 49ers and Redskins and I also love the new LED HGTV technology that has come out.  The picture quality is amazing!  Since these 40″+ TV’s are $1,300+, I promise I won’t buy a new LED HGTV until either team makes the playoffs!

2) Until… I record 10 songs and sing to an audience. Music is one of my great passions, especially trying to sing and play the acoustic guitar.  I’m pretty horrible, despite practicing for the past 10 years.  Within those ten years, my desire for a new,  beautifully constructed Martin Brazilian Rosewood guitar has emerged partly due to an increase in income.  Yet, I’ve promised not to get a new guitar until I put together my darn 10 song play-list, and get the guts to sing to a live audience.

3) Until… both electrical car seats stop working. Folks know I love cars. I’m going for a record 4th year in a row of owning one car.  It’s quite an accomplishment since there was a time where I went through eight cars in ten years.  Currently, my passenger side electrical seat no longer adjusts.  Thankfully, it’s set in a comfortable position.  Not until the driver’s seat breaks will I buy a new car!  With the dealer offering a handsome $1,500 trade in value for Moose, I’d rather poke my eye out than trade Moose in and spend $20-50K more for a new car!

4) Until… I can touch my toes without bending my knees. Flexibility is as important as physical strength when it comes to sports.  As the tennis season revs up, it’s important to strengthen my core and stay limber to prevent injury and beat the competition.  Not being able to touch ones toes is pretty darn pathetic.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to work on!  Hence, if I’ve promised  not to buy any more tennis and general sporting gear (shoes, raquets, clothing, bags, etc) until I can comfortably touch my toes.

5) Until… I get a raise or a promotion. Finally, if you want to really play a serious game, which corresponds completely with personal finance, tie your goals back to work.  Promise yourself that until you do get that raise or promotion you won’t spend money on anything superfluous until that day.  By setting this target, you will focus on your greatest money making asset, you!


Finding reasons to save money is pretty boring compared to finding reasons to spend money.   If you can create fun reasons to save money, stipulated on things that have nothing to do with the actual savings process (football playoffs), I think you’ll find it much easier to build your freedom fund.

Time can be your friend or your enemy when it comes to savings.  The weak see more time as leading to more opportunities to spend and blow up their budgets.  The strong see time as an opportunity to build savings and watch their investments compound.  The great thing about this game is that it’s scalable to whatever you wish to strive for.  Once your goals are achieved, you may be so happy that you may not even need to spend any money!


Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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    • The Simple Machine says

      I agree! Lately I have been eyeing the mac book pro! But I can really do all my blogging from my netbook!

      So here is one money saving game that I will use to keep me motivated to improve my blog. Until I can payoff the macbook pro in full with blogging money, I am not going to purchase a macbook pro.

      The only caveat – if my netbook becomes useless, then I will buy a mac book.
      .-= The Simple Machine´s last blog ..Vancouver Weather Scam =-.

  1. says

    I like the idea of games that are related to other goals (so are under your control, unlike the football games or even the car game).
    Some ideas:
    – buy no new books until you’ve read your entire “to be read” stack or decluttered X # of books that you don’t want to keep around or have visited your local library 10 times
    – buy no food at the grocery store until you’ve used up 20 items from your pantry store (yes, I have a food hoarding problem) :-)
    – no weekend camping trips on any weekends that I haven’t earned minimum $4,000 working
    – no Wii (or other) games until I’ve defeated my Wii Fit and hit 3 out of 4 stars on every game
    – no new clothes until you lose XX pounds
    .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..Do I really need to work? =-.

    • says

      You’ve got a great list Single mom! I love them all! Part of the fun of linking something to something which you have NO control over is that when it finally happens, it’s almost like a miracle (49ers getting into the playoffs), and therefore it is a great reward itself, causing you NOT to want to spend any money b/c you’re so happy already!

  2. says

    I like this approach. This won’t be difficult for me so much, but it would be for my husband. Yesterday, he handed me a list of all the vehicles he’d like to own in the next few years. The list included 6 vehicles! Maybe I need to get him involved in, “I won’t purchase that next vehicle until…..CO2 emissions have dropped from 420ppm to 400ppm” (of course, this may never happen so he may not go for it!)

    Thanks for the ideas!
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Tuesday Tips, Week 4 =-.

    • says

      Guys love to dream about vehicles! It’s not like he wants to buy all 6… but we drool over them, and realize we can only build just one. I like your CO2 emission linkage! It definitely may never happen, which is a great way for you guys to save a lot of money!

      Remember the 1/10th rule of car buying! That’s another goal when I wanted to buy a $25K car. I had to make $250k first!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It =-.

  3. says

    A game that used to play was to calculate how many months sooner I could achieve financial independence by reducing a certain item of spending. If I reduced my monthly spending on “Vacations” from $300 to $200, how much sooner would that permit me to retire?

    If you assume a 4 percent real return on your investments, you multiply by 25 to determine how much the monthly spending reduction helps. $100 by 25 equals $2500. To determine how much sooner you will achieve your goal by reducing the amount you need to save by $2500, you look at how many months it takes you to save $2500. By cutting your vacation spending by $100 per month, you just brought your day of total financial freedom that many months closer.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“Please Consider Changing the Way in Which You Deliver the Message So That You Don’t Kill It” =-.

    • says

      Rob, you make an excellent excellent point, which should help people think twice about spluring on stuff they don’t need.

      Multiply everything by 25 to see what you need to amass, to throw off 1 years worth of interest income at 4% to cover that item you buy. It’s actually income until perpetuity.

      .-= admin´s last blog ..Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It =-.

  4. says

    With our previous mortgage payment, I setup a system of milestones. So after we passed each milestone, we go out and have a great dinner at a expensive restaurant and sometimes a movie. Most of the time we took the kids too, so the movies sometimes happened and sometimes didn’t.

    I think that being rewarded for such goals makes the sacrifice more bearable, and as you say, much like a game.

    You might want to include a “breaking down” escape clause on the TV and the car ;)
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..Saving By Paying Attention – Conclusion Part 4 of 4 =-.

    • says

      Haha,yeah.. knock on wood Moose and my TV don’t go kaput. But if it does, I’ll be buying something new/used for sure b/c breaking down trumps everything.

      Celebrations are great! We need to celebrate more our achievements I think. Why not? It’s fun!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It =-.

  5. says

    You are the King of not spending. And when you get those songs recorded, I’m buying the first album! Do you have any advice for a married couple looking to not spend as much. It’s so easy to just tell Heidi to go ahead and pickup whatever we need when she wants it. I like the idea of not shopping for two months or something like that.
    .-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..The Ant Philosophy =-.

    • says

      Hey Jeremy, thnx man! With my singing and playing skillz, I might only be able to charge 99cents, MAYBE! lol.

      Well, since you have a wife, I think it would be so fun to play the “no spend until…” game TOGETHER! You guys will have so much fun, you’ll be at the point where you guys will brag about how disciplined you are, or she is.

      I tell my SO all the time, hey…. I write all the time, and am still using a 6.5 yr old computer with 512mb of ram and a 1GHZ processor… why do you need something 10X faster if I don’t?

      It becomes so fun to try and see who can be more frugal!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It =-.

  6. says

    I think when you want to meet some frugality challenges, making a game of it is great. I do the same. Because instead of a crappy goal I need to meet its become a challenge to see just how frugal I can go with that goal.

    You, my husband, and J. Money got the Redskins going. Its all I see on TV when the season is on. LOL.

    So, you’re gonna post the videos of you singing, right? ;)
    .-= Money Funk´s last blog ..How much did you earn to give up your dream? =-.

  7. Charlie says

    I’m planning on taking a vacation next month as I got approved to take a week off of work, but I haven’t decided where to go yet. Until I make up my mind on where I’m going I’m not spending any money just in case flights and hotel turn out a little more expensive than I’m hoping. I don’t have anything I want to buy urgently anyway which feels good. I also try to avoid buying things spur the moment as I usually regret it later. Having a game, some type of goal, or a set timeline before buying something is also a great test as to how much you really want something (meaning if you lose interest over time and decide not to buy it you save yourself the hassle of getting it, returning/donating it, plus all that cash.)

  8. says

    Amazing post! I love the idea of playing games. It makes the process of increasing your wealth funner!

    I currently have an 8 year old TV. When my friends and family come over, I always get advised to keep up with them and buy the latest, greatest TV. Nope. I am not buying another TV until this one breaks! :) It’s funny how we value different things. :)

  9. Boris says

    You propose here an interesting approach to fight spending urges. The only problem with this approach is that you could feel scarcity because you are perceiving that you are limiting yourself. I prefer the priority approach. I decide what is most important for me, and then when I feel the urge for “something else”, I will compare that with my important goal and I will enjoy the fact that saying no to that “something else” is getting me closer to my important goal.
    .-= Boris´s last blog ..When the student is ready, the teacher is evident =-.

    • says

      Donno Greg-san, there’s definitely merit in Rob and your method which we should all employ, but sometimes, that method is just way too boring. By mixing it up and playing games, it makes me much more interested in staying the course and having fun while doing so.

  10. says

    Great post. I think I might do the Alexa thing too and not buy myself a new computer until I’ve cracked the 200 000 mark. Considering I was at 12 000 000 just a few days ago, it’ll be a while. But I’m down to 3 000 000 now.

    I suspect though, the best strategy would be to say “I won’t by myself (x) until I have the cash in hand.” That would probably lead to ultimate savings for all those financial samurai’s out there.
    .-= Learn Save Invest´s last blog ..The Power Of Inaction: How Buy and Hold Makes You Rich =-.

  11. says

    I took up learning the piano recently. I have always wanted to learn and finally got around too it now that I am out of school so my game is I can’t buy a piano till I can buy a new house :) That right there ties in all sorts of other games we are playing in order to save and eventually move into a bigger house, a few years down the road.

    Delayed gratification sure feels good sometimes :) I can in the meantime practice piano at my in-laws that live a few minutes away.
    .-= Jesse´s last blog ..How To Avoid A Traffic Ticket =-.

  12. jason says

    Achieve your goal

    It is not only convenient to get anything from a math degree to a psychology degree online, but it can also be less costly than traditional college or universities, too. Often, since online schools do not have a physical campus, they do not need to charge as much for attendance. Things like housing, campus building upkeep and cafeteria facilities are not typically offered, and so the cost of attendance is just tuition and books. In addition, most online education programs offer some form of financial aid. And the cost of online degrees earned from an accredited institution can often be offset with federal financial aid as well………….

  13. says

    I took up learning the piano recently. I have always wanted to learn and finally got around too it now that I am out of school so my game is I can’t buy a piano till I can buy a new house :) That right there ties in all sorts of other games we are playing in order to save and eventually move into a bigger house, a few years down the road.

    Delayed gratification sure feels good sometimes :) I can in the meantime practice piano at my in-laws that live a few minutes away.
    .-= Jesse´s last blog ..How To Avoid A Traffic Ticket =-.

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