At the start of the year, I had a startling realization: I really sucked at managing my money and savings. After years of avoiding thinking about money, I realized I just didn’t have the motivation to care. I was at a point where I was ruining myself financially through a mix of my ill-managed ADHD and a three-year mobile game obsession, but I didn’t have any reason to change my money habits other than the knowledge that it was bad. Then I remembered an old trick I heard from online friends about turning my gaming obsession into something that might solve my money problems instead.

If you’re in a similar position and find yourself needing a proper goal to help, keep reading. Keep in mind, there’s no single thing in existence that will magically make you good at managing every aspect of your finances, but this tip worked for me and several others. Today we’re going to explore a niche-saving trick I learned from Japanese idol mobage fans on Twitter: Paying your oshi, aka oshi savings.

There are a few terms we’ll need to break down quickly. For starters, oshi is a Japanese fan term that roughly is the equivalent to the English stan as used by stan Twitter groups or bias if you’re in Kpop circles. It translates to “push” and refers to your favorite character or person in a given franchise or group. 

I came across it on Twitter while running in fandom circles related to an idol-raising mobile game. This mobile game happened to be a gacha game, which means that you spend some in-game currency to draw in a virtual box filled with selected cards of all the characters. You could also use IRL money to buy the in-game currency and continue spending. One can imagine that starting a gacha game can quickly get overwhelming for the wallet, and for me, it indeed started to take a toll.

A significant factor involved in the gacha game trap comes from collecting as many cards of their oshis as possible. And in some circles, your worth as a fan is judged by how dedicated you are to getting the cards. It can get overwhelming to keep up with this lifestyle, so some fans invented a method of saving that would utilize the love for our oshis and put that into saving money. The original post for this idea was shared on Twitter and eventually deleted, but I still remembered it and put it into practice at the start of 2021.

The trick is exactly as it sounds: When you want to put away money for savings, you tell yourself you are paying the money to your oshi.

Some suggest doing this physically, like with piggy banks which you can decorate with pictures of your oshi to remind yourself why you’re doing this. Others suggest keeping a separate savings account just for your oshi so you can have a distinction. However you choose to do, the fundamentals remain the same. The idea is you’ll feel more encouraged to regularly put into your savings if you feel like someone, even just a fictional character, relies on you. 

Since the power of this trick lies in giving yourself a reason to be responsible, it can be pretty flexible in its setup. You don’t have to choose a fictional video game character to pay; you could choose your favorite idol, celebrity, or even someone you know in your real life. The options are endless, and all that matters is that you feel better about “paying” them regularly.

Admittedly, games aren’t forever, and the field of gacha games is so competitive that some games will end before even making it to the first anniversary. And sometimes, we just lose interest and no longer feel dedicated to this make-believe person we’re paying. And once that character or person you put your soul into is out of the picture, then chances are you’ll quickly lose motivation to pay them regularly as well.

But the trick isn’t meant to last forever; it’s like having training wheels. What you want is something that you feel dedicated to, which can help you get into the habit of saving money regularly. And then, hopefully, seeing the proof that you’re capable of properly saving money will be motivation enough to continue doing so without the need to rely on something like this.

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After several years of spending far more than I should on video game characters, this trick has helped me get on track again. I’ve finally found the motivation to put money into saving without feeling bad about ignoring my oshi, and I also have a healthier relationship with my games. It’s not going to replace a proper budgeting system or help you earn tons of extra money, but it’s a step in the right direction for those of us who don’t know where to begin our money journey.

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  • Neha Merchant

    Neha Merchant is a cake decorator and content creator who is currently studying Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto. She's passionate about social justice and equality for all and spends her free time indulging in anime and mobage fandoms.