I mentioned in How do you beemind your finances? that I’m currently beeminding expenditure on things that I consider luxuries including eating out, alcohol and fiction books.

One of these things is not like the others, in that I actually have precisely zero interest in reducing the amount of fiction I buy (well, maybe not zero, in that I do sometimes buy books and then fail to read them which I’d like to stop doing, but close enough to zero).

Fiction is in there for two reasons:

  1. It is clearly a luxury expense so it would feel slightly weird not to include it in a category for that.
  2. I’m hoping that by having it in there it will essentially create an exchange rate between fiction and other activities: I could do this, but that’s the equivalent of nearly two books, do I really want to do it that much? It also should help avoid the problem where with do less goals I always push against the boundaries because I’ll generally want to have at least a book’s spare in there.

I can’t entirely decide if this is a good idea.

Has anyone tried this sort of bundling with other goals? Did it work out for you?


Personally I don’t see that type of bundling causing me to do anything remotely like the right thing. I would never buy another book if buying books detracted from my restaurant budget.

Just shooting from the hip here, but what if you got to enter negative spending (a budget increase) when you finish reading a book? Assuming you can trust yourself to legitimately read the book (this would work okay for me.).


I think that’s just a difference in priorities between us. If I had to choose between never going to restaurants and never buying another book I’d be cooking in for the rest of my life.

Also, the relative cost of restaurants : books is that a book is typically <= half a restaurant trip and I simply can’t get through them fast enough to reduce the number of permitted nights out to zero (I read fast, but I’d have to be reading > 1 / day which would only happen if I wasn’t doing anything else).

I don’t really feel the need to have an incentive for finishing books. Some books are legitimately just a bit rubbish and I only find that out midway through. I think the problem is that I occasionally buy books on a whim rather than that I don’t finish them.


Agreed that finishing a book is a lesser goal than extracting value from it. If you like @drtall’s idea of budget-expanding datapoints, you could choose a different trigger criteria than ‘finished’, e.g. ‘finished with’, or ‘properly started’.

I have a couple of bundle goals, with mixed results. They’ve all been ‘do more’ rather than ‘do less’, but where a variety of activities give me credit.

The most successful of these has been ‘sweat’, my exercise goal. Through the power of automation, this gets a point if I’ve been to the gym, gone for a run, to salsa class, taught trapeze, etc., so is the conflation of several more granular exercise ‘goals’.

With more mixed results is my ‘Printable CEO’ goal, where I assigned myself points for different independent-consultant essential activities. It is proving tricky to get the points-balance right, in relation to one another and to the slope. Too shallow and I can stay on the road by doing low-value activities, too aggressive and it’s unsustainable. Great concept from Dave Seah, but tricky to beemind.

[UPDATE: Dave has reorg’d his website, the PCEO link was dead (thanks @insti!), and is now ‘fixed’ and points at the roughly equivalent Concrete Goals Tracker page]


How are you automating this?

In oh so many ways.

tl;dr — I use the Beeminder callback webhooks

RunKeeper tracks my runs. I happen to use my hand-rolled dancer script to catch the Beeminder callback, evaluate whether it was ‘long enough’ to count, and if so, add a datapoint.

For several activities, I check-in to a location with Foursquare/Swarm, and that triggers the update to my goal. You could wire that one together with Zapier or IFTTT on a per-goal basis, but I’ve again used my dancer script so that I can easily change the comment to reflect what I was doing rather than where I checked-in, and use Zapier to update a single Beeminder ‘goal’ of checking-in more.

(If the IFTTT integration had existed at the time, I may not have gone to all this trouble.)

If you’ve got multiple items feeding in to a ‘sweat’ goal, you may also want to set a custom aggregation method to make it binary, rather then getting multiple credit for, say, exceeding 10k steps while running in the gym.

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