Saving Money With a 'Fun Fund'

Fun fundSaving money for the future doesn't have to be so serious, and it's not always done for such high-minded goals like retirement or paying for a child's college education.

When my husband, Earl, and I got married, it was the second time around for us. So when we joined households, we had a hodge-podge of furniture that clashed and which, frankly, looked like something out of a badly furnished dorm room. There was steel mixed with wood. His old yellow leather sofa and my glass tables. It was an architectural mess.

I don't remember just what caused our awakening of how frightfully uncoordinated our furnishings were. But I do recall the two of us, almost simultaneouly, having an epiphany that something (OK, everything) needed to change. The house needed to look like grown-ups -- adults who had at least two cents worth of style and taste -- lived there.

But we didn't rush out to the nearest store and buy everything at once, or engage in impulse shopping. Instead, we shopped for just the right items, planned our purchases in order to continue saving money, and made fun out of the process.It took us nearly a year to get the kitchen the way we wanted it, to find a dining room set that we both liked, and to coordinate the foyer and living room furniture, along with an interior paint job for the house, too.

All the while, we kept in our heads a vision of what we wanted our home to be like. And for the most part, we've created that vision. We now call our humble little house "the farm."

No, we're not milking cows or tending sheep (we don't have any). But with three kids, we do have a busy, active household, and there's always something to be done in our home.

And just like a farm has pigs, so do we. Ours are two piggy banks – one in the shape of a recliner, the other a red, heart-shaped bank that says "His" and "Hers" – to remind us of our shared future goals.

If you do like we did, you'll find that it's OK to keep it light. Having a special savings fund to help you save money for a goal is beneficial, to be sure. But so too is having any visual or symbolic reminder – especially a fun one – about why you're saving or sacrificing.

So consider doing these two things:

1. Set up a designated "fund" that you only tap for a specific goal. It could be money set aside for a vacation, for a down payment on a new car, or for anything else that matters to you.

2. Do something to make the savings process "fun." You may not go for cutesy piggy banks like my husband and I did. But maybe you can have a contest with a friend, creating your own "savings experiments" to find out who can spend the least amount on anything from designer shoes to household paper products.

Even if you keep your savings goals to yourself, do something to visually inspire your efforts and give yourself an enticing source of motivation to keep going. For instance, if you're saving money for a future destination wedding, keep a picture of your destination on your wall or in your wallet to remind you of why you're scrimping and sacrificing.

The point is: If you can set a savings goal for yourself, actively work toward reaching it and create an enjoyable image for yourself along the way, then saving money becomes more rewarding and won't seem like such a chore.

At that point, your savings "fund" becomes more like a "fun fund."
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