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The Calendar Game

August 11th, 2012 at 03:31 pm

I know the topic probably could cover a host of different topics but I'm actually referencing a game that we like to play with our day-to-day finances to make them a little less boring. As the nerdy husband I scoff at finances being boring but my wife's more smiles and sunshine than calculators and computers so we like to play a game that takes very little effort to setup and really gets the whole family into it. Even my kids find this way of relating to personal finance more friendly and fun so maybe it makes sense for you to give it a shot in your home. Smile

All you need is a calendar and two different colored markers (preferably a color you like and a color you don't like...you'll see why soon.) I like to use a dry erase calendar but those big flat desk calendars work nicely too. Set it up anywhere you like but usually somewhere common that's friendly to everyone.

Now grab the marker you really like and write in your net income for today (or whatever day you start the game.) If you get paid monthly or bi-weekly or weekly just figure in what you average per day. It doesn't have to be exactly precise but you want to get an idea of how much you make each day you work. An easy example is you make $3000 a month so you'd divide $3000 by 30 days and get $100 a day. So you'd write in $100 in today's date. If your spouse/significant other works too you can add both daily incomes together. Remember to use your happy marker.

Now go through your normal day. If you buy something do what you usually do to keep track of it. You don't need to put it in any category for the game...you just need to know what you spent. Anything you spend regardless of what method of payment just jot it into that day on the calendar with the marker you don't like the color of (we use red for bad and green for good.)

Now you can see in plain view on each day if you made more that day than you spent! What we like to do is write the total (good marker number minus bad marker number) in the bottom right corner and then update it as we go through each day. Obviously you'll have days when you get paid and you pay a bunch of bills at once (so that may be a negative day for that day) but by keeping the running tally you have a nice visual representation of how much you made vs how much you spent as you went along through the days, weeks and months. If you get extra income on certain days always add it to that day's happy marker total.

It's a very easy and fun way to track income and expenses on a very basic level. The real nerds can get really creative and calculate what an investment made that day or how much interest they were charged on that day on a debt. The main thing is not to take the game too seriously because you don't want to lose the people in your household that may not be so into the numbers. One thing it helps us with is impulse spending. Taking a quick look at the calendar before going shopping or going out to eat really makes us think a little harder about what we're going to spend our money on.

Just thought I'd share since we really enjoy playing the game in our house. Have fun with it!

5 Responses to “The Calendar Game”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    That's great!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. snafu Says:

    cute idea, wish I could get DH involved, his eyes glaze over and he visibly cringes anytime he thinks I want to ask/talk/explain finance. He took a giant step forward by holding on to receipts and dumping them on top of his bureau at the end of the day. lol

  3. I-78 Commute Says:

    Ha sounds like your DH is basically like my DW. There are probably dozens of receipts in her purse as we speak. What we like about the calendar is there really isn't any long discussions about where the money is going or what it's doing. Usually I'll just say to her something like "spend any money today" and she'll say "yeah like $20 at the store" and I'll just write it on the board. She doesn't feel like I'm beating her down with financial talk and she still gets the visual aid part of it. It's not for everyone but we enjoy it.

  4. Jerry Says:

    I like the fact that you track it, and that you try to make it an enjoyable exercise -- that offers a little insurance that you can get someone involved who might otherwise not be interested. Paying attention to the money can lead to improvement, in and of itself, so this is a great idea. It's challenging not to be on the same page, that is for sure.

  5. I-78 Commute Says:

    Thanks Jerry! Yeah the main thing is just to keep it as a reminder. It's easy to just glance at it with the color coordinated numbers and no one feels like they have to do a lot of math (which for the ones that aren't really into the numbers it's a lot less intimidating.) I appreciate the positive feedback.

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