Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Budget Game

I've been doing Tim Ferris' "Slow Carb Diet" from his book "The Four Hour Body". To help out, I've been tracking calories using the MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter app on my Android phone. So far, so good; I'm down five pounds in two weeks and this is the first time I've been below 190 in a decade.

So I got to thinking, why not do with dollars what I'm doing with calories, IOW, set up a budget? Now, I've done that in the past and it's been BORING! so I thought about how to make it more fun and came up with the idea of making it a game.

Apparently, the idea of making budgeting a game isn't a new idea but it's not that widespread either. So I'm thinking how to turn budgeting into a game. Here's what I've gotten so far:

1. A "game" is a month-long and you play 30 day-long "sessions".

2. You allocate a specific amount of health points for the game (your monthly budget) and session (your daily budget). The daily allotment shows up on the screen as your avatar (think the Marine from DOOM; I am ;-).

3. As you spend money, your avatar's health deteriorates. If you go over budget, your avatar dies and the game is over until the next day.

4. If you do get through the day without killing your avatar, you win points (?) and the remaining health points goes into a vault. At the end of the game, you see how well you've scored by seeing how many health points you have in the vault.

The idea here is to track day-to-day spending, not the big monthly outlays like rent and heating.

Since this is going to run on my Android phone and I really dislike Java, I'm going to do this as an HTML5 app. If I understand correctly, I can write the app using vi and Chrome, then wrap it in an Android "package" and I'm done. I assume something similar can be done for the iPhone, but, come on, who uses an iPhone these days? Really?

The game idea still needs work, but that's what development is for. :-) If you have any suggestions, comment below or tweet me using the hashtag #TheBudgetGame.