11 Ways To Make Budgeting Fun

Monopoly board game
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It’s one thing to sit down and make a budget once (not exactly a desirable task); it’s another to sit down every week or month and maintain said budget. As with exercising, you may feel great afterward, but the process can be a tedious bore. 

See: 25 Extra Grocery Costs You’re Probably Forgetting About
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But, just like exercising, you can make budgeting fun. Surely it won’t be as gleeful as, say, going to an amusement park or a party, but it can, at least, not be horribly boring. It even can be motivational for kids.

GOBankingRates tapped the expertise of finance professionals to learn their favorite ways to make budgeting a more enjoyable process for all. 

Change the Name of the Game 

The word “budgeting” has such a dry and rigid feel to it, largely because of decades of it being associated with austerity and deprivation. Why not ditch it altogether? 

Make Your Money Work for You

“I’m a financial planner and I love to talk about budgeting, but I call them ‘spend plans’ due to the negative connotation many folks have with the word ‘budget,'” said Sam Lewis, founder of SJL Financial, LLC.

Budget for Fun  

“By allocating a portion of your monthly budget to ‘fun money,’ you’ll find yourself more motivated to stick to it,” said Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice at Stash. “After all, you’re bound to spend money on social activities or treating yourself at some point during the month, so the most responsible thing you can do is actually plan for it. Anticipating using money for something you’ll enjoy will make the activity of budgeting a little less daunting.”

Make It Sexy 

“I recommend that couples try to meet and go over their budget once a week,” said Shang Saavedra of Save My Cents. “Make it sexy with your drink and snacks of choice; turn off all other distractions, if possible, and keep the environment upbeat. Focus on what you share in common rather than picking apart each others’ purchases. Celebrate each other so that you create positive feelings about personal finance and budgeting, which will help keep the two of you on track.” 

Make Your Money Work for You

Get Visual 

“One way to make budgeting fun and easy is to set up a visual budget for each week somewhere that you can see it every time,” said Lucia Jensen, CEO of WeLoans. “Such visual aids in budgeting help you adopt the habit more comfortably and make it a part of you. Additionally, the visuals also work great for teaching kids the concept of budgeting, creating one and overall improving their financial history, thus setting them up for a better lifetime relationship with money.” 

Break Out the Monopoly Set 

“A fun and tactile way to budget is to dust off a game of Monopoly,” said Gates Little, the president and CEO of altLINE Sobanco. “Use the Monopoly money to represent your current income, and use properties to represent the various bills and financial goals you want to include in your budget. This helps you to visualize where your money is going and see where you are coming up short.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Little adds that having fake money laid out in front of you will help your actual money seem more real — since we rarely deal with hard cash anymore.

Use Technology 

“If you’re not a fan of pen and paper, it’s time to enter the 21st century and utilize budgeting apps like Mint or Goodbudget,” said Abdulrahman Henedy, the founder of Financeive. “You may keep track of your purchases using this type of software on your phone. You can import transactions from your bank account and link them to other platforms. You can see graphs and charts of your spending and saving patterns. Your budget is always accessible as long as you have your device.”

Get Help With the Boring Stuff 

“If you have many recurring bills, like cable, internet, etc., and haven’t negotiated a new price recently, enlist the help of a Bill Fixers or BillCutterz to do the dirty work for you,” said Jeff Wright, co-founder and COO of Sagewell Financial. “If they save you money, they will split the savings with you. You end up with more money and get to avoid that uncomfortable call with your cable company.”

Consider the 52-Week Challenge

“The 52-week challenge motivates you to make periodic deposits to your savings account for a certain amount of time,” Henedy said. “Here is how it works:

1. Put $1 in your savings account in Week 1 of the challenge.

2. Put $2 into your savings account in Week 2.

3. Continue to add a dollar each week until you reach the 52nd week, when you will add $52.

You’ll save $1,378 at the end of the 52-week challenge. Not a bad method to put money toward a holiday or emergency fund.” 

Get Competitive 

“If you really want to make budgeting fun, try competing against a friend,” said DeShena Woodard of ExtravagantlyBroke.com. “You can engage in a friendly competition with a budget buddy, your spouse or even a group of friends to create weekly or monthly budget challenges.

“For example, create a challenge such as who can save the most money in 30 days,” Woodard continued. “Or try doing a ’14-day no eating out’ challenge to see who will last. You can come up with many fun types of competitions that can make budgeting enjoyable. The thrill of outdoing a friend is great motivation for keeping yourself accountable and getting on track with your money goals. Plus, let’s not forget about the bragging rights if you win — who doesn’t love that?”

Save for Something the Family Wants 

To help engage your kids (or reluctant family members) with budgeting, you can make it fun by financially planning for something exciting.

“It could be a family vacation like an RV vacation to see the national parks or a trip to Disney, or maybe a family purchase such as a pool or some other item that benefits the whole family and that the whole family wants,” said David A. Fowler, president of High Mountain Financial Coaching LLC

Allow Space for Your Dreams 

“Yes, a budget includes commitments and bills to pay, but it should include your goals, dreams and desires,” said Alejandra Rojas, a finance professional and money coach. “With that, you are not only allowing your mind to get used to seeing what you are going to accomplish, but it pushes you to get out of the ‘lack’ mentality.” 

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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