There is very little that does not show up in social media streams these days. From politics to personal finances, people are using social media platforms in a variety of ways and jumping on the bandwagon are money sites meant to motivate you in a very public manner.

While there are some people that refuse to even have a Twitter or Facebook account, others have no qualms about it. They have actually found success with the various ways of improving their lives overall, in particular their financial life.

News headlines still say Americans aren’t saving enough money for anything including the near future, children’s college educations and their own retirement. Several progressive websites have tried to help change the statistics about the lack of savings by introducing a little fun into the savings and debt payoff process.

Are You Ready to Play the Game?

There are new ideas in the social-media money game every day but currently a handful of sites are certainly growing in popularity. Each differs in their rules and regulations, but ultimately the game is the same. Users register a personal account online and the application follows the progress of transactions, including the payments toward debt elimination and the deposits into savings accounts. In addition to the improvement of personal finances, the incentives for playing the game also include rewards for good financial behavior.

Three of the most popular social media-driven saving/debt payoff sites currently include SmartyPig, SaveUp and Payoff. Here is a brief overview of each of the sites if you are also considering taking on a savings/debt payoff challenge:

SmartyPig is a popular savings program that consumers can use to save cash for a specific goal. It is free for users, who are offered an FDIC-insured savings account that earns interest and incentives. Members can set up an account and establish specific savings goals. The website will help calculate the timeline and savings requirements to accomplish the goals. Users can also share links to their SmartyPig accounts through social-media platforms and email, allowing friends and family to pitch in and help users achieve their goals sooner. Money put into the account can be redeemed for cash or into a Cash Rewards card which earns users 1% on every purchase made.

SaveUp features a rewards program where users earn incentives for the different transactions that take place in their financial accounts including savings, checking, credit cards, investments and loans. Whenever users reduce their debts or save money in their accounts, SaveUp credits are awarded. These credits can be redeemed for a variety of rewards including cash, vacations, cars and an advertised $2 million jackpot — the more credits earned, the greater the chances of winning. SaveUp is free to use and other resources concerning personal financial matters are also available for members to use. The company says it does not have access to the user’s bank accounts. Information about activity and credits earned can be transmitted through social-media sites with permission.

Payoff is an online savings tool that’s more interested in your dreams and what motivates you to fulfill those dreams. It wants you to identify what you dream of having and set relevant financial goals to accomplish that dream. Users link their personal financial accounts so details about spending can be tracked. During your voyage into better money management, you can earn badges and win cash incentives to help reach goals in a shorter period of time. Banking information is available as read-only, so it cannot be altered but is still easy to access. Payoff offers many other resources to help you be a better saver. The expense tracking feature may certainly be an eye-opener for some users.

Should I Take My Money Goals Online?

It can certainly be motivational to track your progress towards financial goals but doing so publicly may take some additional consideration. Many websites that are meant to help with personal finance strategies are social-media based, which means some of your money secrets are broadcasted to the public. Many people prefer not to share their debt situation or dismal savings balances to the world.

The motivational factor can certainly be a beneficial factor to using these savings rewards sites because you are taking a proactive interest in your finances. However, it must be a personal choice as to how far you want to take it and to ensure you do not cross any type of line when promoting your savings goals.

For instance, through SmartyPig, you can ask friends and family to help you achieve your savings goals by funding your account. This may be suitable for those planning a honeymoon but may be thought inappropriate if you are asking others to help pay off your debts.

Use the social media channel cautiously if you are at all interested in the free tools of the personal-finance trade currently available. Be sure to read all of the fine print and understand the social impact that your activity on the site will have. Check the rules and FAQ section to ensure your membership is free and your privacy is protected. Being careless just once when it comes to your personal financial life can have long-lasting and very negative consequences.

This story was written by Debbie Dragon, a MyBankTracker contributor.

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