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Money Saving Games and Financial Gamification

Money Savings Games and Financial Gamification
Chris Alexis
Chris AlexisUpdated May 17, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Do you struggle with saving money? Are you sick of traditional budgeting methods that just don't seem to work for you? Have you ever heard of financial gamification? Financial gamification (aka money-saving games) involves using game mechanics to encourage people to engage in financial activities that promote better money management and savings habits. This alternative approach to building better money habits has been growing in popularity in recent years. The reason? For many reluctant savings, it works.Read on for a closer look at the concept of financial gamification, its benefits, and some popular money saving games that you may want to try.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is when you add game-like elements to non-game contexts, such as education, healthcare, and even personal finance. It aims to engage and motivate people to complete tasks and achieve goals by making the experience more engaging, fun, and rewarding. Think of scoring points, reaching new “levels,” and unlocking rewards.One popular example of gamification is fitness tracking apps. These apps use game elements like points, badges, and leaderboards to encourage users to exercise more and reach their fitness goals.

What Is Gamification in Finance?

Financial gamification is when those game-like elements are tied to financial goals, like saving money and learning how to budget. Often offered through apps, these elements can be anything from earning points for completing financial tasks to competing with friends and family to see who can save the most money. It can be particularly effective for people who struggle with traditional budgeting methods and find them boring or difficult to stick with.

Gamification People Do for Savings

There are many different ways that people use gamification to save money. Here are some examples.

Savings Challenges

These challenges encourage people to save a certain amount of money in a set period of time. For example, the 52-week savings challenge requires you to save $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three, and so on until you save $52 in week 52.

Cash Back Rewards

Many credit cards offer cash back rewards for purchases. Some people use these rewards as a game, trying to maximize the amount of cash back they can earn each month.

Budgeting Apps

Budgeting apps often use gamification elements like progress bars and alerts to help users stay on track with their spending. When users complete challenges and save money, they earn digital accolades like badges. Some mobile tools are designed to mimic fitness trackers, like Fitbit, but for tracking savings.

Investment Games 

There are many investment games and simulations that allow people to practice investing without risking real money. These games can be a fun way to learn about investing and potentially make money in the process.

Debt Payoff Challenges 

These challenges encourage people to pay off debt as quickly as possible. One example is the debt snowball method, where you pay off your smallest debt first and then move on to the next smallest debt until all of your debt is paid off.Recommended: 20 Fun Money-Saving Challenges 

Benefits of Financial Gamification

Financial gamification has numerous benefits, both for consumers and the financial institutions that want to attract and keep them as customers. Here’s a closer look at the perks of financial gamification. 

Increased Motivation 

Saving money and sticking to a monthly spending budget is not everyone’s idea of a good time. But gamification can actually make saving money more enjoyable and engaging, which can increase motivation to save.

Improved Financial Literacy

Many money-saving games and apps provide financial education and can improve users' financial literacy.

Greater Accountability 

Some gamification methods involve competition with friends or family members, which can increase accountability and motivation to save.

Positive Reinforcement 

Game elements like points, badges, and rewards can provide positive reinforcement for sticking with good financial habits.

Greater Satisfaction

Setting and achieving financial goals can be a satisfying experience, and gamification can make the process even more rewarding.

Grows Financial Businesses 

There’s a reason so many financial institutions offer gamification — it rewards them as well. For example, it can help boost customer engagement with their services, generate strong word-of-mouth about the financial institution, and allow them to gather data about their customer base. 

Money-Saving Games

There are many money-saving games you can play to help grow the balance in your savings account and achieve your financial goals. Here are some popular apps that can make saving, investing, and sticking to a budget feel less like drudgery and more like fun.


This mobile app rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds. According to the app’s website, the average Acorns user ends up investing $166 within four months. The app charges a monthly fee, which starts at $3.


This savings app allows you to set up customizable rules to automatically save money. For example, you can set a rule that rounds up all purchases to the nearest dollar and saves the difference, or you can set a rule to save a certain amount of money every time you go to the gym. There is a 30-day free trial, then you need to pay a monthly fee, which starts at $3. 


This is a budgeting app that helps you track your spending and savings goals. You can set up alerts to let you know when you are close to reaching your budget limit, and the app will also give you suggestions for how to reduce your spending. Mint is free with the option to make in-app purchases.

Truist Long Game 

This mobile app rewards you for saving money by giving you coins that can be used to play games and win cash prizes. Some of the games are casino- or lottery-style (such as scratch-off games and slots); others involve more elaborate “savings missions.”  The more you save, the more games and rewards you unlock. The app is free.


This app is designed for families who want to use the spirit of friendly competition to teach their kids about finance and money management. The app lets you pay your kids’ allowances based on correct answers to weekly trivia questions about financial topics like interest rate. Kids get a “Cred-Lit” score and use it to unlock their prepaid debit card so that they can spend with it. The app is free.

The Takeaway

If you’re behind on saving or don’t have enough to cover an emergency, it might be time to give gamified saving a whirl. Check with your bank or credit union to see if it provides any game-like apps or tools. If not, consider downloading a financial gamification app onto your phone. Also, keep in mind that just making a few small changes in your financial behavior, like transferring a set amount from checking to your savings account each month, can help protect you against setbacks and get you closer to achieving your financial goals. If you’re looking to get a better return on your savings, Lantern by SoFi can help. With our online banking marketplace, it’s easy to compare high-yield savings accounts based on annual percentage yield (APY), fees, and balance minimums.Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do banks use gamification?
What is a finance simulation game?
What is an example of gamification?
Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson

About the Author

Chris Alexis

Chris Alexis

Chris Alexis has been putting pen to paper and fingertips to keyboard since his youth. He ultimately grew into an accomplished and award-winning writer who loves using the power of language to connect with audiences. He also strongly enjoys learning about who he is writing for so he can create something that will truly resonate with them. He has worked for a variety of companies, each of which have given him more experience and insight.
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