Saving Money Games in Real Life

Ways to save money via your money mindset.

Our culture often brags on how much one exclusive item costs, usually equated with a brand name item. You’ve heard people state with an air of excitement or boast, this is Louis Vutton, this is Channel, this is Gucci, etc. However, I play games to brag about the opposite: how low can I go and how long can I make it. I came up with these games by acknowledging my money mindset (I discuss three in the Grow Your Savings audio track) and aligning my behavior so I could save money not spend it.

Game 1: How low can I go?
The goal of this game is getting as much as possible for the lowest price. I’m all about cutting costs without sacrificing quality. All quality items don’t come with an expensive price tag. I’ve found everything from some of my best outfits to work supplies by bargain shopping and using bargain shops, outlets, discount stores, bartering with friends and family etc. The goal of the game is to get the best quality for the lowest price that stays within your budget. If you don’t have a budget, pause all shopping (besides the absolute necessities) and create one. Ok, back to the game. Every game needs rules right.

Rules:
1) It must be a justified purchase. It must be an item that can’t be upcycled or bartered from friends and family.
2) The price must be within your budget.
3) It must be competitively priced across stores, brands etc.

The rules help you go through a process to get to the lowest price for the item that you need. If it doesn’t pass all the rules then do not pass go, do not collect $200. In all seriousness, if the price is outside of your budget and the item is not a necessity then this is something that you need to save for in order to buy.

My process:
First I ask myself, can I upcycle something I already have if not can I barter for something that fits what I need or something that I can upcycle. If not then I decide I have to buy the item and the game really starts. I always check reviews and store websites to determine average pricing, best brands, durability etc., especially if it’s a large purchase or something electronic. You need an idea of what the item really costs in order to determine the best deal. Then I ask myself, what am I really getting for the money? If I spend slightly more is it actually a better deal? For example, when buying orange juice I check the price against the number of ounces in the different sized containers. I also consider the destined function of the item. For example, is it really worth it to get the pen that is $1.50 when you can get an entire pack for the same price. Sure the $1.50 pen may write really smooth, but are the ones in the pack that bad especially considering what you’ll use them for? Usually not. When I’ve decided on a store and a reasonable price, I then look for coupons and discounts. If it’s a store you frequent see if there are discounts through the rewards program or look online for coupons. When I get the item at a low price I brag about that accomplishment!

Game 2: How long can I make it?
Another game I play, which opposes our consumer culture is to see how long I can go without spending any money. Bills are excluded from this, but everything else is fair game including food. Start the game when you don’t have an event or travel coming up and have just bought groceries and other necessities. You will be preparing all meals at home. Plan meals so you make sure you have ingredients to make several different dishes, snacks and desserts so you don’t need to run out and get ingredients for meals.

Rules:
1) Bills don’t count in the game (please pay your bills).
2) No spending of any kind, using credit or cash counts as spending money.

In order to stick to the game, I partake of free entertainment. If you’re a movie buff like myself check out the previous post on “where to watch movies online.” I also make it a habit to ridicule advertisement to counter its affects. During commercials, if you crack jokes on how they are trying to entice you they will be less effective. Besides that’s just fun with a group of friends or family. I do it with my sisters all the time. Also, when you go grocery shopping before you start the game, make sure to get a few junk food items so you won’t break when a craving hits. My longest stretch has been 42 days without spending a penny. I’m usually not that good; my average is closer to 20 days. How long do you think you’d make it? Play the game and find out and let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Rick Brooks

About Dr. Maria James

Dr. James, The Money Scientist, has expertise with designing income management, debt management, and wealth strategies to help you live your best life. She is the founder of Pocket of Money, LLC and the creator of The Wealth Protocol™. Dr. James has also been a guest financial expert on ESSENCE, WEAA, Madame Noire and more.

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