Saving money doesn't have to be all about cutting out treats and agonising over interest rates. If you think creatively, you can have a bit of fun with saving.
1. Fight your impulses: with fantasy
If buying online is your Achilles heel, try starting a Pinterest wish list: every time you get the urge to buy, just pin it, and see how you feel in a few days. The chances are you won't want it when the moment passes, and you'll save a fortune.
If in-store shopping is more of a problem, there's still hope. Apps like Urge and Merry Miser have devised simple, playful methods to help you take back control.
2. Start a prize pot
Setting goals is an important part of budgeting, but the risk is that your targets get pushed into a misty future. There are two ways to make goal-setting quick, easy and fun.
First of all, set yourself monthly and annual targets. You can do this easily using Money Dashboard's free, secure finance software, which automatically gathers your income and spending details and measures them against goals that you set.
Secondly, spend a few hours building a prize board. Affordable treats work well, but you could include a few items from your Pinterest wish list. Then, every time you exceed a target, put the surplus cash in your prize pot and spend it on your treats.
3. Spend to save
Swap your credit card for one with a lucrative cashback deal, switch your monthly bills onto the credit card, set up a direct debit to avoid interest fees, and put all the cashback you earn into your savings account. Of course, this method works better if you've mastered the previous two steps. You can also get paid to shop through websites like Quidco.
4. Bad habit jar
A twist on the classic 'swear jar', this is a cheeky way to gather loose change, and improve yourself at the same time.
Choose a habit you know needs improvement for extra rewarding results. Or better still, let your friends or family choose: you're bound to make more money that way.
5. Foraging fund
Urban foraging is a growing trend and, although it's a much easier task in the countryside, it can be a great way to make money. Two great ways, in fact.
There are loads of neglected food sources around. Devotees of this approach may haunt the back of supermarkets and sandwich shops (or ask managers) to collect out-of-date goods that get thrown away. But parks and meadows are full of chestnuts (not horse chestnuts), blackberries and nettles. Use an urban foraging guide like this one from Country Lovers to hone your skills. If that doesn't appeal, simply start growing your own.
The next stage works better with children. Once you've gathered your haul, pay for it. Simply work out what you saved, take a small discount for labour costs, and pay your savings account for the bounty. Kids learn the cost of goods, and you lower the risk of squandering your savings. And don't forget to use Money Dashboard to keep track of your earnings.
Would these ideas work for you? And have we missed anything ingenious? Let us know in the comment below.
Posted by Marc Murphy, Marketing Manager at Money Dashboard.