4 Ways to Make Money Management for College Students More Fun
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4 Ways to Make Money Management for College Students More Fun

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4 Ways to Make Money Management for College Students More FunGamifying, cognitive science, the psychology of rewards, leveling up – are we talking about finances or the latest app on the iTunes store? Both, actually. The Pluto Money finance app is looking to break down the “boring” barriers that can surround personal finance and budgeting by adding a more fun approach to money management for college students.

Moving beyond millennials, the San Francisco-based finance app is taking aim at Generation Z. And taking cues from them, too.

“Gen Z has shorter attention span, are naturally more social, and want simplicity and practicality,” says Pluto CEO, Tim Yu. Together with his cofounder and CCO Susie Kim, Yu took that all into account when looking at the best ways for them to go about managing their finances in college. “Most apps force users to budget everything and stare at graphs and charts—none of which are appealing to Gen Z.”

Instead Pluto raises the fun quotient on money management for college students with spending challenges, a peer comparison tool, and simple visuals to motivate and engage. Student loans and car payments fun? Absolutely, says Yu. Don’t worry saving up for Childish Gambino tickets is on the docket, too.

1. Treat It Like a Game

Yes, look at saving more and spending less like a round of Candy Crush, says Yu. This doesn’t mean it’s any less serious or important. It just makes it more fun. “When you play games, it’s all about tradeoffs,” suggest Yu. “Different decisions lead to different consequences, good or bad, except you have an end goal of winning - which fulfills your happiness to some degree.”

Is that the new PlayStation4 Pro your destiny? Yes, says Yu – if you treat it that way. “That’s one of the factors that makes games so fun to play – because you get to determine your own fate! Same thing can be applied to a lot of life, and especially for your finances. Your goal is to afford the lifestyle goals you want so you can be happy – whether it be living debt free or going on vacations.”

3 Easy Budget Swaps You Can Do to Save $3500 a Year

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2. Create #Wishlist #Bucketlist and #Adulting Goals

Tickets to Bonnaroo. That big summer roadtrip. Paying down your credit card debt. Yup, we all have goals like this – quick wins, big ticket items, and longer-term (sigh) responsibilities. Putting them into #hashtag buckets will help the big picture – and big payoff – come together, says Yu.

Having tiered goals that fit into tall, grande, venti silos will help you go beyond amorphous, not-so-concrete ideas like “save more money” and “manage my money better.”

Yu says it’s about “the idea of ‘commitment’ to add accountability. When you commit to and take attainable steps towards your goals, you have more opportunities for small wins – which feel good and translate to ‘fun.’”

3. Break Your Goals Down Into Micro Goals

Money management for college students (and, let’s face it, all of us) is best done in bite-size chunks, says Yu. “We don’t think, ‘I need to budget for everything I spend money on.’ We naturally think, ‘Shoot, I spent too much last week eating out. I need to cut down this week,” he says. Using a money management app can give you insights into your existing behaviors – and then help adjust your mindset and reach your microgoals via attainable, actionable steps.

And smaller goals – like cutting back on GrubHub or taking the bus over an Uber – can lead to big savings. Consider this: you can save almost $600 a year by brewing your own coffee. That’s right – the math on doing a simple budget swap can translate to saving $2.70 a cup at the local café vs. about 44¢ on your own. Boom – you’re now in the VIP tent at Bonnaroo.

[ View the 3 Easy Ways to Save $3K a Year Infographic ]

“For longer term goals like paying off student loan debt and credit card debt, we aim to break the process down into a complete savings plan – i.e. to pay it off by this date, how much should you pay off each month, and how can you come up with that amount,” says Yu. Loan Payoff Level 1, unlocked.

4. Take It to Social Media & Challenge Your Friends

Never talk about money, goes the old taboo. The key word there being “old.” Not only did your parents probably tell you this – their parents probably told them that. While bragging about your salary or (hey, lucky you) a work bonus isn’t cool, encouraging financial smarts and challenging your friends to set and achieve their savings goals is.

“It becomes almost like a real life game, modifying your behavior and goals to match up with or beat your peers,” says Yu of putting a fun twist on budgeting in college. “Everything about Pluto puts a positive, actionable spin on your finances.”

Check out the Pluto Money app and get more tips on money management for college students at the Pluto blog.


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