Life is hectic sometimes, and saving money often seems like an unpleasant chore. After all, who has time to shop around for bargains when you have gifts to buy, healthy meals to plan, and carpools to organize?

It might be hard to believe, but it's possible to make saving money fun. Turn it into a game and watch how fast everyone gets into the spirit. Here are a few ideas for creating your own family saving challenge:

  • Look for ways to cut grocery store expenses. Make a list and estimate the cost of items on it before going to the store. See if you can get everything for less money by taking advantage of sales, using coupons and comparing different products and brands. Transfer the amount you saved into an account earmarked for vacation.

  • Challenge your spouse to low-cost date nights. Take turns planning evenings to see who can come up with the best plan for the least amount of money. Once you master a set savings goal, see what happens if you set the limit for five dollars less. (The cost of a responsible babysitter isn't included in this budget. Bonus points if you find a relative or friend willing to babysit for free.)

  • Make the most of your pantry. How many nights can you make dinner with what you have on hand? Everyone in the family can come up with ideas or look for tips online.[1] If you can make your pantry stretch for an entire week, reward everyone on your next trip to the store with a discounted treat you can share.

  • Challenge young children to put on a birthday party for $10. Help them bake a cake, make their own decorations and find a few essentials at a dollar store. It doesn't take a lot of money to have a charming afternoon.

  • Challenge teenagers to reduce utility bills. Show them your current bills and tell them you will split any savings with them if they use less electricity and water next month. Small changes can really add up![2]

Over time, savings games and challenges become second nature, and your family will start to accumulate real savings.  Even better, you will help equip your kids with the essential skills they need to master their own money in the future.