Putting the Fun Back in Money

by Galia Gichon on July 16, 2009


This article was posted on SmartyPig, a great resource for saving money and earning higher interest.

Ever notice how it seems like everyone else is going on an amazing vacation? Or just bought that new car? However, when you sit down at the end of the month and are trying to find those extra dollars for the vacation, you just can’t seem to stretch that dollar enough. Especially when you aren’t even sure your job is stable. One of the keys is putting the fun back in your money. How? Follow these easy steps.

Associate the Fun with the Not-So-Fun.

If you are like most of us, figuring out your mutual fund allocations is as much fun as going to the dentist. But what if you crossed learning about mutual funds with your favorite hobby such as yoga or watching NASCAR? It could be as easy as that. Start associating the two. Every time you plan to take a yoga class or watch a race on TV, you have to look up a mutual fund you own on Morningstar, or read a few pages of Money Magazine or even ask a smart friend about their mutual funds in their 401k BEFOREHAND. Put it in the schedule and then you have permission to om away!

Running to Ratios.

You are so wild about running, you would run every night after work or sign up for a 5k every weekend if you didn’t have other obligations. But what if you could start learning key financial terms such as expense ratio, exchange traded funds and asset allocation, while you are making your mileage every week? Take advantage of that time running by downloading some interesting and FUNNY podcasts from NPR or iTunes onto your iPod. Most are free. My favorites are: Planet Money and Marketplace.

Live a SEINFELD Episode.

One of my favorite SEINFELD episodes is the one where Jerry and the gang decided to live in an opposite world. All their actions were supposed to be opposite what they usually did. Why not tackle this idea with your money? If you are at a birthday party for one of your son’s friends and you usually talk about the baseball game, you can say instead “How do you evaluate how much life insurance you need?” Or if you pay for everything with credit cards, try just using cash for one week. If you gravitate to the op-ed page in the paper while sipping your morning joe, why not read the business section first that day. See what happens. Before you know it, you are quoting Geithner’s latest speech and you understand the effect unemployment rates have on your bank’s interest rate.

Reward Yourself.

This is one of my favorites. There is nothing like the big sweet piece of chocolate cake after dinner to get us to finish our veggies. The traditional ways of taking control of money aren’t really working any more. Create a reward for yourself when you reach a certain dollar savings goal. For every $1,000 you save, go out for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Yes, you are spending money, but you also have $1,000 saved in a hard-to-reach account you probably wouldn’t have saved.

Find a Buddy.

There is no question that you are going to stick to your spending plan better when there is someone to hold you accountable. It’s your choice if you pick the friend who will kick your butt or the friend in a similar situation. Regardless, you are more apt to see results when you have to answer to someone else. While you are at it, maybe this is the time to pick new friends? Go through your FACEBOOK page and look for friends with good money habits. You never know what kind of good habits will rub off on you.

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