Today’s post is a guest post from Ann from The Year of Shopping Detox [removed outdated url February 25, 2014]. Ann told me about her silly irreverent style of PF blogging and offered to write a guest post while I enjoy some, much deserved- thank you very much, R&R on vacation. I love Ann’s blog and you should check it it out too! The following post is about rewarding yourself either with rewards (carrots!) or punishment. I don’t know about you but personally, I respond much better to rewards… carrots all the way! [removed outdated url February 25, 2014]
So, I was looking at this article from From Shopping to Saving that talks about those gyms where you only pay when you don’t go. It’s like the opposite of normal motivation – rather than feeling guilty for staying home and not working out, now you can feel guilty for staying home and not working out AND losing even more money.
The underlying psychology of it is the whole idea of punishing yourself for straying from your budget. It’s the whole idea of the carrot and the stick, which I think has to do with racing dogs or something. Does a dog run better chasing after a carrot, or being chased after by a stick? In financial terms, do people do better by rewarding themselves for staying on budget or penalizing themselves for messing up?
(TMI ALERT) When I was a teen, I tried to discipline myself from squeezing pimples by making a table of punishment. I think it was something like – squeeze one pimple, don’t get to watch TV tonight. Squeeze two pimples, don’t get dessert. It never worked, obviously. Because sometimes temptation (i.e. squeezing pimples) just overcomes discipline and also, sorry, my 14 year old self was not about to miss Beverly Hills 90210. I guess the thing about using a punishment-based system is that you need to be really, really accountable to yourself. Such as by writing about your adventures on a blog?
You may think that is the case, but it is really not. A few months ago, when I was a neophyte blogger, I made a rule to not buy unnecessary things, particularly, clothes. But then for a variety of reasons, I bought some clothes and in order to be accountable to my small blogging audience, I blogged about it. And then I got my first-ever mean comment! “Anonymous” said that she thought my reasoning was lame, and that I bought more clothes on a budget than most people bought when not on a budget. I was wounded and horrified and embarrassed. Did this make me stop breaking my rules and buying clothes? Hell, no. It just made me stop blogging about it when I messed up.
A system that I think may work better is one I read about where I set out a monthly budget and if I stay within it, then I get to spend $25 at a thrift store as a reward. This almost feels like winning money to me. I tend to really enjoy giving myself challenges, so, facing a budget as a challenge instead of a constraint is a helpful shift in thinking. If I know that if I stay within budget, I get to BUY SOMETHING? That’s way more of an impetus for me than knowing that staying within my budget means that… I stayed within my budget.
So, I don’t know. It’s probably different for everybody. But I find that punishing myself is a much harder rule to live by than rewarding myself. What do you guys think?
The Year of Shopping Detox [removed outdated url February 25, 2014]