Mastering personal finance is all about “gamification,” says Kristin Wong, a journalist and the author of a new book appropriately titled Get Money. Think of your checking account and your 401(k) as a video game that can be mastered, level by level, Wong said on Cheddar’s Morning Bell.
This type of mindset gives you more control and confidence over something that is often seen as intimidating. Taking an otherwise boring activity and turning it into something more enjoyable is something businesses have been doing for their employees and customers for years now. Using this strategy in your own life can take you from a financial newbie to a fiscal veteran in no time.
“What a lot of businesses do is use gamification to make monotonous tasks engaging,” says Wong. “It makes you motivated to complete those tasks and there’s less anxiety involved in them. That’s great for personal finance because most of us feel the opposite when it comes to money. It’s like the McDonald’s Monopoly sweepstakes, you feel like you’re in control of this game and it’s fun.”
No, she’s not advising you to gamble all of your money away. Instead Wong is suggesting that people break down their financial duties into easily achievable goals.
Often times paying off debts or simply managing your expenses could seem daunting because these aren’t things you can simply get done in one fell swoop. They’re multi-step processes that seem like insurmountable mountains unless you break them up into steps.
“Think about it in terms of quick wins. It might be as simple as calling your bill provider and haggling your bill down,” Wong said. “It’s about feeling this sense of empowerment over your money. When you do that something happens to your mindset where it shifts a little bit and you think, ‘Wow I can do this money thing.’”
While it’s definitely easier said than done, deconstructing your financial responsibilities can help you develop a routine where you’re constantly working towards a goal.
Don’t think about it as a million boxes you have to check. Rather, look at it as if it were a new stage of your favorite game, with each small victory you’ll refine your money skills minus all of the anxiety.