Honey Money background, motivation, questions

Agreed! This would fix a large part of my concern, but obviously it would be more coding work, and possibly be counter to @dreev 's approach of all these things beeing (!) translatable to their monetary value, and all being commensurate using that metric.

Here, we are arguing they are not commensurate - student discount not being equal to prepayed derailments. That’s a crux for me.

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I feel sting immediacy is important, and credit card charges don’t really deliver that. I look at my credit card charges months after the fact. For sting immediacy, I depend on knowing in my brain that it will happen.

Honey money may work better in this respect…so long as the balance is highly visible, preferably on the iOS dashboard, since that is how I interact with Beeminder everyday. I predict that seeing the balance go down will feel bad. Immediately.


Yeah, I have a load of honey money that, without a checkbox being able to opt out of it for derailments, will mess up my beeminding completely. Current balance = $508.98.

That would be about 100 derailments at my usual pledge levels – enough that Beeminder would functionally instantly stop working for me at the moment that honey money started being applied to my derailments.

As Clive says:

If it is real money, I should report it in my taxes, and pay about 40% of it to the government. And yet… I have not gained that money. It’s not real. I can’t give it to the government. If I had no other money, how could I possibly pay the government their £160 cut of it?


Check it out: beeminder.com/payments

It’s still rough around the edges but it’s now possible to purchase Honey Money! :tada:

PS: Caveats, quoting @bee:

Firstly, if you buy some honey money, be sure to opt over to using honey money as your default! Otherwise we’ll still only withdraw your honey money for premium payments. If you do opt over to honey money as your default, that means that it’s gonna be up to you to keep a positive balance in that honey money pot. If it goes negative you won’t be able to use Beeminder until you buy more honey money to get yourself positive again.

And of course there’s no cashing back out. We’re not holding onto money for you; we’re taking your money and turning it into magical Beeminder beans that will grow into a magical Beeminder vine for you to climb and slay your metaphorical giants and bring home that metaphorical golden goose. We are a software company, not a savings and loan.

Let us know of any bugs you encounter if you try it out!

this makes it seem like it’s either honey or another payment method—i would have assumed when honey runs out the credit card will be charged?


I look forward to testing it. I am curious to see how it affects my decisions regarding when I decide to derail. I haven’t applied any right now as I am recovering from a tonsillectomy. The interface for adding honey money seems to be very straightforward. Is there any way to prevent honey money from being used on the subscription?

Extremely reasonable assumption and certainly our intention. This is one of the rough edges. In the meantime, you’ll need to bring your honey back up to zero if it goes negative and then switch back to paying for derailments with a credit card. Premium payments are always taken from honey first and then fall back to your credit card like you’d expect.

Which brings me to @linux535’s question:

Negative. Do you have a use case for that? Our thinking is that sting immediacy is maybe a reason to want to be charged directly for derailments but there’s no such rationale for wanting to be charged directly for premium.

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Premium payments are always taken from honey first and then fall back to your credit card like you’d expect.

Correction: if you switch over to Honey as your default, then everything comes off of Honey, even premium payments. If you go negative you’d add Honey to bring you back to zero and switch back to credit card, or bring your Honey balance back positive and keep using honey as the default.

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It’s not a huge issue or anything. I wanted to do that to set aside $30 a month for derailments and have the $16 sub be charged separately. However, the easy thing for me to do would deposit $46 to cover the sub, too.

How long can your balance stay negative? I was asking because with that, I could do like a kind of weekly invoice or something like that. But wanted to make sure it would not cause issues.


As soon as you go negative the so-called deadbeat flag gets set, same as if your credit card fails. Which just means you can’t see your graphs until you fix it – add enough honey money or add a new payment method.


Honey money seems to be working well. I have paused all my goals as I am recovering from surgery. However, I have been able to test using it with the Beeminder API, which has worked flawlessly. Thanks for implementing this feature, especially for the API; it is nice not needing to enter multiple $1 transactions into my budgeting software.


Ok, from a psychological view, honey money is Monopoly money - I think it would be incredibly difficult for most people to think of it as interchangeable with real money. The urge to do mental accounting is too strong.

From an economic point of view, a dollar now is always worth more than a dollar next year. Why? Uncertainty. What if you end up needing that dollar now, or get a time-limited investment opportunity? What if you die in the next year, or some other catastrophic event happens? A dollar next year gives you fewer options, so it’s worth less. Honey money is essentially real money that you get at the time of your next derailment. So if I derail $50 or so a week, $500 in honey money is equivalent economically to getting $50 in real money a week for 10 weeks (I get the money I would otherwise need to spend on Beeminder.) Not a huge difference economically if you derail a lot, but not everyone derails or derails that much. It’s really the psychology that’s a killer here.

And then there’s transaction costs - having to keep track of how much honey money you have and switch back from honey money to your debit card or whatever seems like a huge hassle that outweighs whatever benefit you might get from the honey money… what’s the benefit again?

So basically this is Nicky 1, Zvi 0.

A little off topic, but if a job pays me in store credit, the value of that credit is considered taxable income in the US. (Not sure how it works in Wales!) If I cut my neighbor’s hair and get paid in bananas, the dollar value of the bananas is considered taxable income. If the government forgives my loans, that’s considered taxable income too. Just because you don’t actually have the money doesn’t mean it’s not taxable income. If you have no money, the government will garnish your wages or levy your bank account.

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Ooh, that’s interesting! I know we had some stuff around “air miles” in the UK a while back; turns out people with lots of air miles from business travel were paying their plumber in air miles. It was iirc deemed not taxable income. So: are air miles taxable income in the US, or is that genuine monopoly money?

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That one is complicated. I looked it up a little…

When Citibank gave customers “Thank You Points” that could be redeemed for flights for opening a new account, the courts ruled that those were taxable.

But the IRS previously said that "the receipt or personal use of frequent flyer miles or other in-kind promotional benefits attributable to the taxpayer’s business or official travel” is not taxable.

So in your example, where someone pays someone else for doing a job in frequent flyer miles, my guess is that they would be taxable, since it’s not just a benefit you get for your own travel for personal use, but something you were paid for doing a job. But it’s not totally clear.


This is a bit off-topic from current discussions. But I will say honey money has been effective for me. It has reduced the amount I derail as I look at it more as having a budget for derails each month.

I am curious to find out if my honey money interest is taxable. I would be too concerned if it were. However, I feel this would apply to things like vbucks in Fortnite being taxable, which I think if the IRS was going to make an example of a platform far as digital monopoly money type stuff, that’s who they would target. Then again vbucks don’t occur interest so I don’t know.


“Need sting immediacy – honey ≠ money because I may actually never derail again”

I know this isn’t true, but I need to BELIEVE that it’s true when in the moment of facing a choice about whether to do an action or to derail. Otherwise, if in my mind it’s just a matter of time, then my brain decides that it’s just a question of whether to derail now or derail later… and the one that results in “do the thing I don’t necessarily feel like doing now later” will often win in that circumstance.