No one likes to budget. It’s tedious, it’s boring, and it makes you face debt head-on (something many people often try to ignore). Luckily, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. ‘Gamification’ (the use of gaming elements, like competition and challenges, to reward positive behavior) has been around for years and you can use it to make saving money fun and engaging. Here’s how:

Set a savings challenge

Are you the type of person that thrives on competition? Use money-saving challenges to help reach your financial goals. Some fun ideas include:

  • Start a saving challenge with a friend or family member. Simply pick a period of time, whether it’s a week or a month, and see who can save the most.
  • Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a set period of time. For example, try not to spend money on discretionary items (something you want but don’t need) for at least one week.
  • If you eat out often or grab a daily cup of coffee, try to do without for a week or two. You’d be surprised at how much you can save and at the end, you can reward yourself with that nice restaurant meal.

Set an ‘end of stage’ bonus

Remember when you used to play Super Mario Bros. 2 and there was a bonus game at the end of each level? As long as you collected at least one coin in the subspace during your run, you got to play–and you could gain up to five extra lives.

Do the same thing with your budget. Perhaps your goal is to pay off credit cards. Each time you pay off one, give yourself a small reward as an ‘end of stage’ bonus.

Play defense

Once you have your debt paid off, one of the best things you can do is beef up your savings account. To help yourself do that, think of it as a game of defense.

Set aside a certain amount of money for savings every paycheck, and then guard that money like it’s your job. If you have to tap into your reserve, you lose points. If you go a certain amount of weeks without touching it, you gain points. To make it more fun, of course, once you’ve reached a certain number of points, you can reward yourself.