Occasionally, my hubby picks up a donut for a breakfast treat. I usually refrain from this particular indulgence; too fattening, too many calories, etc. Yesterday, since it was such a lean sweet day, I decided to join him for a donut.
I selected a beautiful glazed chocolate one for my splurge. After thoroughly enjoying this wonderful donut, an interesting thing happened: I felt really rewarded, pampered, and indulged. So I used these positive feelings to propel myself to action:
- I did a quick clean up of the house
- I prepared an exam for the MBA Finance class I’m teaching
- I threw in a load of laundry
Flip this experience around a bit and see what happens. Could this help with money management?
Rewards and Research
Research shows that when developing a new habit, in order to reinforce positive behavior, rewards for success are crucial.
When assisting others with their financial goals, I always recommend maintaining a list of low-cost rewards to use whenever a financial goal is met. For example, track all of your expenses for a week; reward yourself. Or, pay triple the minimum on a credit card debt; get a treat. The reward serves a motivator to keep on track.
Getting control of your finances is difficult and time consuming. Frequently, the payoff is a long way off. If you have a mountain of debt, or a low paying job, then paying off that debt, or saving for an emergency fund takes a while. Give yourself a few rewards along the way, and it’s easier to stay on track.
What are Your Rewards?
Challenge yourself this week to a financial goal. Write it down. If you don’t write it down, it’s unlikely you will achieve it.
Next, spend a moment listing several low-cost rewards. If you are trying to lose weight, skip the donut.
One of my favorite rewards is a trip to the dollar store. There are scads of treats there for a buck each. Some rewards are even free; for example, treat yourself to an extra hour of “me” time, where you do a craft, go for a hike, read a magazine, or whatever is fun for you.
So, set a financial goal, accomplish it, and get a reward. You’ll feel awesome!
About the Author: Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is editor-in-chief of Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.com where she writes to educate, inspire, and motivate for wealth in money and life.
Photo Credit: Clampants
Doable Finance says
Some folks when they save some money in one place give themselves reward by spending it some place else.
Ramona @ Personal Finance Today says
He he, sounds pretty familiar. Back in the day I’d do the same from time to time. Save money on something and then feel so good about myself that I had to squander it on something else 🙂
Robert @ The College Investor says
I think rewards are huge, especially when saving for a goal. Since it involves money, the reward should be cheap, but still effective. Since my wife and I love to eat out, when we hit a savings goal, we would have a nice meal out, usually running us about $30.
Barb Friedberg says
@Doable-The idea is not to “overspend” on the reward, or you have undone all of your hard work.
@Robert-Sounds like you and the wife have a solid system going.
I love donuts too, but I would definitely need to come up with some other reward system or I’d eventually end up having to buy a whole new wardrobe! 🙂
Len Penzo says
Nice article, Barb! Our “reward” for sticking to the household budget all year long is usually our annual summer vacation. A lot of the proceeds from all of our scrimping and saving end up going to that trip, and the more we save, the better the trip!
Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot says
Excellent article. You need some positive reinforcement to reach these goals, sometimes personal satisfaction takes tangile rewards! Im guilty of this myself. Oh sure Im happy with a job well done, but other times I want to get something out of my hard work and effort.
Bret @ Hope to Prosper says
When I started out, I used to reward myself for saving or paying off debt. Usually, that reward was a dinner out. Now, I have been saving and investing for so long that it has become it’s own reward. Watching the balance go up in my brokerage account each payday has become more enjoyable than the dinner out.
I am saving up right now for a big reward, which is a used class C motorhome. These savings are in addition to my regular monthly investments. It will take a couple of years to save up the cash, but the reward will be worth it.
Paula @ AffordAnything.org says
Small rewards along the way are definately better motivators than one big reward at the end. If you have a big goal, it helps to break it down into small pieces so you see the rewards — for example, if you want to lose 15 pounds, every 1 pound you lose is an immediate reward!!
Dr Dean says
Barb, I agree small rewards help keep the excitement going.
Dollar store would be painful rather than rewarding for me….My wife would disagree of course.
Barb Friedberg says
@Candy-I don’t use the “donuts” reward too often for that very reason. (I don’t want to buy another wardrobe either).
@Justin- Agreed, although after working really hard, my daily default reward is watching some TV!
@Krantcents-Yes, that works out the best, because you have the reward pushing you forward towards the unpleasant task.
@Bret-Wow, that motorhome is definitely not a small reward. Good luck with that one!
@Paula-I’m a HUGE FAN of the smaller bites method of goal setting!
@Doc-Guess you are not a big shopper? At least that keeps the consumption down a bit 🙂
I usually reward myself for things I do not want to do. In other words, things that may need a little extra motivation.
Food is usually a good reward or treat. I treat myself to a yummy snack when I feel like I accomplished a lot of work on that day.
For a bigger goal or task, break it down to little goals or tasks and then reward yourself when each of them is done. This is better that giving yourself a reward only at the end of a major task. You might get weary and might not even if finish it because the reward seems so far to get.
There Is a God: How Eating Donuts Can Help You Stay on Budget Len Penzo dot Com I was suggested this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks! your article about There Is a God: How Eating Donuts Can Help You Stay on Budget Len Penzo dot ComBest Regards Agata
Are you sure all of that work wasn’t fueled by a sugar high? ; )
Giving yourself a reward really does work. I promised myself that if I strive to get this promotion at work, than I’ll buy myself that $70 bottle of scotch that I always wanted but I’d be too cheap to buy otherwise.
Well, I got that promotion but when I got my first check, I went to the store and didn’t buy it. Simply because I felt that I worked too hard on that promotion to go and start spending money.