Mobile Apps & Gamification Help Personal Finance Goals by Jessica Oaks
Saving money and budgeting can be a real challenge. For some of us, keeping track of what money is coming in and going out poses the greatest hurdle; for others, the issue isn’t necessarily tracking the funds, but rather putting them away. Needless to say, anything that can help an individual reach his or her personal finance goals is worth consideration, as it seems easier than ever to build up debt. Whether you’re a recent college graduate with a mountain of student loans over your head, or simply can’t seem to make headway when it comes to your finances, the latest crop of mobile apps, websites, and games (yes, games) designed around personal finance might just be for you.
“There’s an App for That.” No, Seriously. There Is.
With mobile technology advancements, tracking funds, setting up personal finance goals, and holding yourself to these goals has become easier than ever. It seems that with each passing day, there’s a new money management application designed to help you save up funds for a new car, special vacation, or downpayment on that condo or starter home you’ve been dreaming of.
But that isn’t all these tools are good for. The same apps that can be used to help you save up for vacation can also help you put away money for the long-term. And as the Millenial generation is generally less able to prepare for the future than the Baby Boomers or even Generation X were, this can’t be anything but good. With both short and long-term investment and savings tools available, the latest mobile apps are incredibly robust tools.
One of the most popular mobile apps for money management is Mint. This platform is truly intended to act as a 21st century banking solution, and enables individuals to manage funds, budgets, bills, and cash flow entirely from their smartphone, tablet, or desktop. It enables users to set up finance goals and track those goals with simple, easy-to-understand graphics and charts. It also allows users to pay bills and set up investment and savings accounts. You could say that it’s the perfect mobile app for handling your finances.
Of course, for some people, having the tool available isn’t enough. And at the end of the day, Mint is just that. It’s a tool, but it doesn’t really offer anything that wasn’t available beforehand, other than its interface. For some people, they need more than a tool – they need motivation. Enter gamification.
Could Gaming Be the Future of Personal Finance?
So what is gamification, first and foremost? In layman’s terms, gamification is the application of game mechanics to non-gaming tasks. These mechanics may include leaderboards, points, badges, rankings, specific goals, and rewards (either real or imagined). The overarching concept behind gamification is that it provides someone incentive to do something they otherwise might not do. It turns work into a game, something boring into something fun.
Increasingly utilized by corporations to help build brand loyalty, drive sales, and improve customer experience, gamification can also help individuals set and achieve specific goals. A number of mobile apps and websites are now available that bring gamification to personal finance. These include Payoff, CreditCardio, SaveUp, and You Need a Budget.
All of these applications help bring an immediacy and sense of instant gratification to a task that, when you really get down to the fundamentals, is about deferring your gratification to a later day and time – that task is saving money. There’s no way to truly appreciate how a savings plan that is started now will pay off in 30 years. But with gamification, the incentive doesn’t have to be 30 years down the road – it can be now.
The Benefits of Gamification are Hard to Ignore
Though gamification as a concept isn’t new, mobile technology advancements have truly allowed it to come to the forefront. For a generation that is going increasingly digital, these apps and websites just make sense. Combine their ease of use and low barrier to entry with their on-the-go accessibility and fun factor (and in some cases, actual rewards; SaveUp, for example, lets players redeem points for real prizes), and it’s no surprise that individuals are taking a liking to them. If personal finances are one of your pet peeves, you might want to give these new mobile apps a try.