Motivational Games

What are your motivations for saving money or paying down your debt? For me, my family is a big factor, as well as setting goals like flying to Dallas to watch one of my closest friends get married. For other people, it’s buying a house, or planning a big move. If you don’t have any big goals in mind, would receiving rewards for getting rid of your debt or saving up motivate you?

SaveUp takes a more comprehensive approach. The San Francisco-based start-up asks consumers to sign up (free of charge) on its website, then lets them link their financial accounts and obligations – from checking to college and car loans. The software helps them track their financial activity.

The motivational key to the program is the prizes that members can earn. For the money they save, they earn points that they can either redeem for rewards or use to enter raffles for prizes that run the gamut from Starbucks gift cards to a $2 million jackpot. (No actual money is in play.)

Other potential rewards include cars and vacations. Of course, although it’s “free” to play, these sort of sites make money by collecting your financial data and information about your spending habits, and selling it to interested parties, or using it for other purposes. I’m interested in knowing if people have tried sites like SaveUp and whether it’s worked.

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13 Comments / Post A Comment

maude (#1,988)

My first reaction is to be creeped out and think, no way, I don’t want anyone tracking my financial information. When I think about it, though, I don’t think I really understand what the risks behind that really are – I just know that it’s “bad”. So, here’s my serious/naïve question to you guys and Mike: what can really happen if a company is selling/sharing your info like this? Can they share info that would lead to identity fraud? Or is it more of an inconvenience, resulting in a lot of spam?

Mike Dang (#2)

@maude Sites like these have to partner up with big, secure companies that can parse your financial data, and your data is generally anonymized in the process, so you would be more worried about being spammed (and with the idea that you’re giving big financial institutions your anonymized data so they can market to you and people like you) than fraud.

notpollyanna (#2,841)

I’m not worried about fraud so much, so I might actually do this, but it seems a bit inconsistent. They are encouraging us to save by giving prizes to us. The sponsors are willing to pay/give prizes because they have access to our information, which they will use to sell to us. Buying the things they are selling us will cripple our ability to save. I wonder who will win, overall? It sounds like a good idea as long as you think you can resist the sales pitches.

ThatJenn (#916)

@notpollyanna To be fair, I bet some of what they’ll try to sell you are financial or banking products, which you can use without breaking the bank (think rewards credit cards, which, if you use them well for things you would already buy, can be a good deal for you and sometimes for the card company). I’m just guessing – that’s how mint.com and Credit Karma seem to do it, anyway.

jfruh (#161)

“they earn points that they can either redeem for rewards or use to enter raffles for prizes that run the gamut from Starbucks gift cards to a $2 million jackpot. (No actual money is in play.)”

If you can get points you can exchange for discounts on things, or possibly enter to win money, that … sounds like … actual money is in play?

sintaxis (#2,363)

@jfruh I didn’t understand this either…Why would I want to participate if there is no “actual money” involved?

craygirl (#63)

@jfruh @sintaxis

I use SaveUp, and yes, you can *win* real money (of course, I haven’t!). I think the point is that SaveUp never accesses your money – you pay off debt on your credit card, and you earn points for doing so. It’s not like you have to pay real money to enter the raffles.

Agree that it seems like funny wording – probably something SaveUp emphasizes for legal reasons?

jfruh (#161)

Also, a VERY DIFFERENT motivational game I saw the other day struck me as quite effective. It was an ad for Fidelity Investments (the first web ad I’d clicked on in I can’t tell you how long) that takes you to an interactive website that takes your picture via your laptop camera and then ages your face to show you what you’ll look like in 2020, 2030, 2040, etc., along with a description of how much your retirement account will be worth if you save $X a month now. Encouraging retirement savings through TERROR OF PHYSICAL DECAY! (as the aging morphing they did was fairly cartoonish and dramatic).

eagerber (#1,958)

Semi-motivational thing I use: ImpulseSave. You create a savings goal, open up a savings account with them (I think I earn .3% APY), and contribute weekly towards your goal. You set an amount ($5 minimum) per week to be automatically deducted from your linked checking account and put towards your goal. Then, you impulse-save whenever you’d like. Typically, I’ll impulse-save $2 when I decide to bring coffee to work, rather than go out and buy one. Or I’ll impulse-save $15 if I decide to stay in on the weekend instead of spending money on going out. You can transfer your savings, in any amount, back to your linked checking account ay any time. (I’m just letting it grow, though!)

The thing I like about is that you can text your impulse-save, and they text back with some cute little “way to go!” motivational phrase. I also get motivational emails every once in a while telling me where I’m at with my goal. I like ImpulseSave because I’m contributing to it little by little, and because it earns interest. Check it out: https://impulsesave.com/

RocketSurgeon (#747)

How would SaveUp use my information any differently than Mint or CreditKarma, which already have access to my financials?

Mike Dang (#2)

@RocketSurgeon Probably not that differently. I’ve stopped using Mint, but I recall that Mint often offered credit cards with various interest rates or rewards depending on your financial situation.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

@Mike Dang Thanks, Mike. I still keep my Mint account, mainly to keep track of my student loan balances and my overall financial snapshot. I find it rather time-consuming as a day-to-day tool, though.

mannequinhands (#1,278)

My partner uses SaveUp. She does it every day. Once she won $5 in one of the little games; they sent her a $5 check that arrived within the week. You also earn points/credits/rewards/discounts – we’re big soccer fans, and she used her points to get us a set of front row tickets to an MLS game for something like $25 for the pair. It was a nice treat, to get the best seats for less than the price of the upper deck.

It seems like the main advertising on the SaveUp site is for different credit cards and financial products. Also, some of the prizes are for things like Southwest airline tickets or an iPad, so I’m sure these companies are getting some kind of promotional consideration.

I also use ImpulseSave, as someone upthread mentioned. I highly recommend it. It makes me put $ in in savings without having to think about it. And then, when I do think about it, I save more. The interest rate on the account is something like .72%, so it’s better than my regular bank!

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