J.D. Roth has a guest post over on Lifehacker about the gamification of managing your finances–that is, making managing your money into a game.  He lists some examples from what he’s done in the past, and how for the last several years he’s actually been actively using gamification to manage his money.

One of my favorite ideas he posted over there was the idea of a debt chain.  Every time you pay off X amount of money (off of principle I’m assuming), you cut off a link.  I think it’s a cool idea, and one that I, being close to 100k in education debt, might actually take up.  Think how great it would feel to 1 – explain what that giant link of chains that goes around your living room actually is, and 2 – when you finally cut that final link and it’s gone … aww wouldn’t that be a nice capper of an experience (that doesn’t involve the slight twitch I get whenever I click “Authorize” on a payment).

Anyway, it’s a cool idea.  And I think , since I love strategy games like Galactic Civilization (all the Civs for that matter), that it makes sense to apply some of those tactics I use in games to real life (although, perhaps slightly less slash and burn).  Maybe that’s where this analogy breaks down–I’m much riskier with my money in on-line games than I am with my real money – something about bigger consequences if I screw up (though, I feel like there should be a cosmic “load from last save” button someplace around here).

The second thing that I’m wondering about is how time plays into that.  In all the games I play, nothing happens in real time, including my money management.  Mini-mistakes that I make while playing the game are felt for minutes, sometimes as little as 30 seconds, not years like the micro mistakes in real life.  I don’t think it’s a matter there’s more at stake, just that the consequences of your actions are more prolonged.

Beyond that – can one really keep the focus of the game for the years it would take to pay off debt?  Or is it by virtue of only using key aspects of the game that focus isn’t really as important.  But really, isn’t the focus – the ‘zone’ what we are attempting to get with gamification?  Interesting thoughts …

via Lifehacker – How to Turn Money Management into a Game