What? The Money Transfer Game? What the heck is that!? Yes, the Money Transfer Game. Please bear with me, you will find out all about it soon enough (and, I’m making up the rules as I go ). Just please hold all question until the end, as you may hear the answer to your particular question during the presentation. Many people find it hard to actually save money. They can not spend on certain items, but that isn’t the same as actually putting it away in a savings or investment account, since they usually end up spending the money on something else anyway. So they turn to other tricks to help them get the job done, such as using envelopes (which I never could fully understand), falsify their checkbook (which just seems foolish to me), or anything else that someone comes up with, so I figured I would try my hand at designing a game that actually accomplishes the saving part of the practice. So, without further delay, I present to you….
The Money Transfer Game
The requirements to play this game are very simple:
A checking account,
A savings, brokerage, or other (preferably) interest bearing account,
Something to write on, and
Something to write with
Those are the bare minimum requirements. You may want to replace the writing instruments with a spreadsheet, since you will need to do comparisons later on, but the pen and paper will still work well enough.
The rules of the games can vary depending on how seriously you want to play. I will go over the entire rulebook and then you can choose which modules you would like to play with.
You should start by listing all of your recurring monthly expenses with their corresponding amounts. These are your fixed expenses, and will include your housing payments, HOA fees, insurances, car payments, water & power, cell phone, telephone (if you still have one), internet, cable/satellite and anything else that is generally the same amount each month.
Next, write down in your best estimate for variable expenses such as food, gas, entertainment or any other expense that isn’t generally predictable.
At the end of each month you will calculate any difference in month-over-month spending in each category. You just earned a prize!
Ok, well that was fun, right? Don’t fret, that’s not all there is, just the first part. Now comes the fun stuff!
Every time you make a purchase with a coupon or gift card calculate the savings and record it. If you saved money because of a sale, write down how much you saved. Do this all day: at restaurant, the grocery store, the mall, anywhere you go. Grocery stores will automatically calculate the savings for you. You just earned a prize!
Every time you forego something, write it down and how much you didn’t spend. You can ignore the sales tax, it’s not that important here. This means that if you brought lunch rather than going out, write down how much you think you would have spent. If you didn’t get your morning Starbucks write down what it would have cost you. If you avoided making an impulse buy while on another mission, write down how much you avoided spending. You just earned a prize!
That’s it. Those are all of the rules of this game. That wasn’t too terribly painful to understand, now was it? Not like learning how to figure out how to play some of the other games.
Wait, this guy was talking about prizes through the whole rules part. What on Earth was he talking about? Well, this is where the name of the game and the rest of the requirements come into play. Do you remember all of those numbers you wrote down from all of the discounts you received, all of the purchases you avoided, and the differences in month-over-month spending? Well, those are your prizes. At the end of each day week or month you will transfer those amounts into the account which you designated during the requirements phase. The concept is simple: you saved money by making your purchases smaller through the use of coupons or other discounts or by avoiding the purchase altogether, so to complete the process you need to transfer those savings into an account where they can work for you and officially be called “savings”. Besides, if you didn’t use those discounts or had gone through with those purchases you refrained from making, you wouldn’t have the money anyway, so you really aren’t going to miss it.
PLUS, there is a bonus prize! Remember the list you made in the first section of the rules? Well, except for the income portion, you just learned how to develop a Budget!!!
Remember, this may be a trick to help you learn to actually save some of your money, but personal finances are no game. Take it seriously and practice this system and it will become second nature, helping you to reach your financial goals quicker than you ever thought.