How ‘Gamifying’ Your Finances Can Help You Reach Your Money Goals

Allison Kade

moneychessBetween your coworker who can’t stop playing Angry Birds and your mother-in-law’s obsession with her Sudoku app, there’s no denying just how popular digital games have become.

Not only are there more than 1.2 billion gamers around the world, but gaming now attracts a much wider audience than your stereotypical Super Mario–playing teen.

That’s because gamification (the practice of using game design and techniques to engage people in nongaming contexts) is all around us—from marketers who use games to attract consumers to companies that leverage gamification to train employees.

Use a Fitbit? Then you’re just one of the millions of people who have turned staying healthy into a game.

With so many facets of our lives mirroring a test, competition or contest, it’s natural to wonder: Could gamifying my personal finances help me with my money goals?

In theory, there’s no reason why not.

“Games are associated with positive, social experiences, so people don’t mentally turn off,” says Syble Solomon, a financial behaviorist and author of ‘Bringing Money Into the Conversation.‘ “And when people are actively engaged, they keep the pathways open in their brains so they can learn more and retain [what they learn].”

Of course, “fun” doesn’t always mean “wise.”

“Deployed carelessly, [gamification] can reinforce and appear to validate existing financially disastrous behavior patterns,” says Marcelo Rinesi, a data scientist and assistant director at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. “Ultimately, it is one of the most important behavior-modification techniques known—but its very power comes from the fact that it speaks to our most automatic drives.”

So how can someone take virtual cues from gamification to do greater good in their very real financial lives?

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