Getting more sting out of a small fine


Beeminder’s sytem sets the first derailment at only $5, exponentially raising the fine with subsequent derailments. I like to keep it that way. But I make the puny $5 give me a greater motivating sting! I document each fine in a note taking software (Evernote), with date, amount, reasons for the fine and my plan to prevent further derailments. I also read and save all emails and text messages from Beeminder about the fines I incur. This is a boring, time consuming task! It’s also painful to focus on my derailments. All the better to get more out of the small fine! AND I don’t stop here. I also use an app (YNAB) to keep track of my budget. So I manually enter the fine in my budget, painfully describing it and assigning it to my ‘black hole’ envelope. I then must fund this envelope by taking money away from a fun category. I see more clearly the sacrifice I make. And I’m not done yet. I must reconcile my credit card where the fine is shown as a Beeminder charge, which unplaisantly refreshes my memory about the sting! So the tiny $5 Beeminder fine can motivate an awful lot of behavior changes!


+1 about YNAB (You Need A Budget) making small fines more effective. I recently started using it, and it’s really upped the sting of even $5 derailments. It forces me to acknowledge the opportunity cost of using that money to pay for my procrastination (instead of that cool thing I’m saving up for). Not to mention it’s the most effective approach to budgeting I’ve encountered so far.

[6/5/2017: YNAB just started a referral program so I’ve edited the link above to be my referral link. If you try it, like it, and subscribe, we both get a free month. But I was happy to recommend it before, and my feelings haven’t changed!]


Yes, seeing the amount of $5 fines I collected over the previous month in YNAB ($25+) almost made me quit. I, however, decided to regroup and reorganize my goals and expectations. If someone doesn’t use YNAB, there is always a Beeminder page with all your payments listed — it also helps to put things into perspective.


I can’t decide whether I’m glad that page doesn’t have a total, or whether I wish it did. Possibly both. I do know that at one point I got a Beeminder email that had my monthly average of pledges paid, and it was over $5/month - for 4 years straight! Talk about a wake-up call.

(Beehive icon - Payments, for those who might be curious about the page @wswld is referencing)


Just for kicks, here’s a feature request: Like this comment if you want a page with your overall pledge payout stats!