You’ve heard the old adage: “The work expands to fill the time allotted.”
Well, something similar often holds for spending — especially for young consumers. The personal finance variant? “Spending expands to fill the amount allotted.”
Often, teens will spend money just because... it’s there.
Here’s a simple “game” to play with a teen who’s prone to “because it’s there” spending. It works well for any teen receiving a regular deposit into a spending account — whether it’s a weekly allowance, a summer paycheck, or maybe a little of both.
I call it the Sweep To Savings Game.
Each time a new deposit comes in, sweep the current balance of funds into a separate savings account first. In other words, don’t leave any unspent funds from the prior period hanging around. That way money never piles up from a previous period. It reduces the temptation of spending money on a whim, just because “it’s there.”
Sweeping the funds to saving each cycle also creates a nice a game dynamic. “See how much you can have left over in your account by the end of the week. Can you beat last week?”
Make the game more interesting by sweetening the pot. Offer to match some percentage of the amount swept over to savings each time, or provide an aggressive parent-paid interest rate on the savings account.
Maybe a little gamification is all it will take to get your teen swept up in the excitement of saving instead of spending.
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