If you’ve found yourself in debt, it’s likely because of one or more painful hardships. Because of that, having to address anything to do with your debt can sometimes bring up negative, if not traumatic, associations.
The good news is that you’ve already taken the proactive step to enter your Beyond Finance debt resolution program. You’re making moves to change your financial situation and you should be giving yourself a lot of credit for that. But what can you do to keep that forward momentum going?
The Secret About Games
The act of playing games releases dopamine in our brains because there are numerous opportunities for “wins” and progress along the way. Each time you see even a small success, your brain feels like it’s getting a reward and keeps you strongly motivated to continue. That’s why you see folks playing video games for hours on end.
OK, but what does this have to do with debt? Well, by gamifying your debt resolution program you can completely reframe your debt relief journey through a lens that’s not only motivational, but downright fun.
Now, this doesn’t mean we’re making light of the idea of being in debt. In fact, the very opposite. Because getting out of debt can be such a struggle for so many people, anything that can help boost motivation and relieve stress has real, concrete value. If gamifying isn’t for you, that’s OK! But if you’re like many people, it can help achieve goals in a way that’s accessible and rewarding.
Read on to learn how to create a gameboard that turns your debt relief program into a warrior’s journey.
Creating Your Gameboard
1. Determine Your Number of Stepping Stones
You’ll first want to check how many monthly deposits you’re projected to make throughout your program. To create her gameboard, Sidney (from the example gameboard above) created 30 “stepping stones” for each of her 30 future monthly deposits.
2. Decide What Your Levels and Landmark Achievements Will Be
Sidney broke her monthly deposits into three levels called “Debt Warrior in Training,” “Proven Debt Warrior,” and “Debt Warrior Master.” Name your levels anything you like! You could duplicate Sidney’s, or if you’re a fan of Star Trek, go with Starfleet Cadet, Lieutenant, and Captain.
Make sure to pick out a few landmark achievements as well. Sidney chose somewhat arbitrarily, with her tenth and nineteenth deposits unlocking extra treats. It doesn’t matter where these landmarks land on your gameboard journey, just as long as you’re rewarding your continued progress.
3. Come Up With Rewards
This is the fun part! Come up with treats for yourself for each segment of progress you make. These can really be anything as long as they feel like real rewards and don’t set your progress back by involving too much spending. Check out Sidney’s rewards for inspiration.
- Monthly Deposit Rewards – These should be something that will feel great to experience every month after making your deposit. Sidney loves to bake and her family is crazy for cheesecake, so she’s rewarding herself (and her family) with a cheesecake celebration each month for her continued progress.
- Extra Payment Rewards – Give yourself bonus treats for expediting your program with extra one-time payments! Maybe this is a little more of an adventure than the monthly reward. Sidney plans to take a free trip to the zoo.
- Landmark Rewards – Here’s where your landmark achievements come into play. These should feel even more rewarding than your monthly deposits. You’re seeing real progress and you should acknowledge that! Sidney plans to go across town for her favorite donut, then have a family movie night.
- Resolution Rewards – These should be the biggest rewards, whatever that means to you. Binging a whole season of your favorite show; bringing your family to the beach — anything that feels like a true celebration.
4. Choose Some Inspirational Words
Feel free to use Sidney’s words, or customize some motivational quotes just for you! Maybe there’s a famous figure you find extraordinarily inspiring. Pull some quotes from them and use these words to pepper your board with extra motivation.
5. Name Your Journey
“Bob’s Epic Battle Against the Debt Goblins;” “Helen Slays the Debt Dragon Once and For All;” “Sandeep vs. Debt: The Final Showdown” — this could be anything that brings a smile to your face and reminds you that this process really doesn’t have to be unpleasant or scary.
6. Build Your Board!
Once again, the way you do this is entirely up to you. You can create it on your computer, a sheet of paper, or a massive poster board on the wall. If you choose to go manual, it may be easier to fit everything into a larger space, like a poster.
Using Sidney’s gameboard as an example:
- Write your title across the top
- Break your board into levels
- Create the stepping-stone path
- Add a prominent “Resolution” section on the side with the number of accounts you have
- Add a key for monthly and extra deposit rewards
- Write in your inspirational quotes, landmark rewards, and resolution rewards
- Use a big, fat black marker to fill in those stepping stones and check off those resolutions. This should feel oh-so-satisfying — almost as satisfying as the actual treats you get!
- Really do give yourself the rewards. Not only do you deserve them, they’ll help to keep you motivated and promote a little self-care.
- Consider making it a family affair! If you’re on this journey with a spouse, you should both enjoy the satisfaction of coming nearer and nearer to a debt-free life. And even if your kids don’t know exactly what the gameboard’s about, they’ll be reaping the benefits of the rewards (movie nights, homemade treats) and be happy just to come along for the ride.
Your debt resolution program doesn’t have to be a stressful, unpleasant experience. In reality, you’re doing something remarkable and that should be celebrated.
Turn the whole idea of debt on its head and conquer it like a fire-breathing, but inevitably doomed dragon. After all, the good guy always wins in the end!