How many of you enjoy playing games? I know that I do. Saving money is many things to me, but one of those things is a game. Yes, you heard me correctly, it is a game, and I am very competitive.
Not having been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, or any other part of me, for that matter, I’ve always had to stretch George until he screams. Like most everything in life, it is our attitude that makes a difference. Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck with only single-digit dollars left in your bank account before the next pay day (let me tell you that I have been there and done that), the necessity of saving money to make ends meet can still be game-like.
When I was single again and living on my own with joint custody of three children, every dollar counted. Stress from all different directions challenged me. While I am sure I am not the first, only, or last person to do this, I found therapy in playing a shopping game. Religiously cutting coupons from Sunday’s paper, if I should wake up early with concerns heavy on my mind, I’d grab my coupons and go “therapy shopping” before work. I’d walk into the very empty and quiet store, which opened at 6:00 a.m., grab a cart, put my purse and coupon holder in the buggy, and begin shopping. My goal was to see how many items I could purchase for $5 or less by matching store specials and sales to my coupons. I learned which days of the week were the best for matching coupons to discontinued items or items with huge sale prices because they might be within of a month of the expiration date. Over time, I would have a nice stockpile. What I could use with my family, I did use. When my storage closet under the stairs was too full of paper towels, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc., I would load the excess into my car and take it to the local mission; I’d make a couple of trips a year like this.
The challenge of the game took my mind off my worries; the deals I got helped me stretch my budget for food and household items (often items were free after sales and doubled coupons), and it also allowed me to give to others in a very economical way.
Today, I am still thrifty. While we may not live paycheck to paycheck, it is not like we have a year’s worth of money for living expenses in the checking account. I still enjoy saving money. Heck, I see it as a responsibility to be frugal, fiscally responsible, or whatever label you wish to use. And you know what? Making a game out of saving money is still fun. These days, using discount sites like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local, etc. is a game I play. I try not to spend money on things we will not use or really, really don’t need, but purchasing deals from these sites allow the HH and me to have some really neat dates, and I get to enjoy some of my guilty pleasures without feeling so guilty.
For dates, my husband and I love trying new restaurants, new foods. I feel much better about eating out when our meal is BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) entrees or paying $15 for a voucher that we can use for $30’s worth of food. Recently, we purchased two Murder Mystery Dinner Theater tickets; it amounted to BOGOF since each was half price. We had a ball and met some new people. For activities, we have enjoyed, or will be enjoying, all of the following as a result of deals purchased: bowling, paintball, laser tag, pub crawls, high-tech scavenger hunts, firing ranges, comedy tours of cities, etc. For me, I LOVE massages, but I don’t ever pay full price for one. Our oldest daughter purchased a mom/daughter spa day for Mother’s Day. We each had a facial, a full body salt scrub, and a full body hour-long massage. The day ended with mini chocolate cupcakes and strawberries. It was a great thing to do with each other. Because she asked me to keep a look out for a deal, I know what she paid; we got all of that for not much more than what most people pay for a single massage.
If you feel deprived because you must save money, try changing your attitude toward it. Make saving money a game and watch your competitive, fun-loving side come out. Try it; you might like it.
Have a blessed and happy day!