So I want to pitch a problem I have with Beeminder… I cannot justify the loss of income to my wife if I don’t achieve a goal. However, I LOVE the idea of a financial tie to my goals and it would really help me.
If I were to lose even $32 though, I’ve gained absolutely nothing but glares from my wife and being sad about missing my own goals.
Here is what I propose to help me use this wonderful platform and make you rich.
For the free tier, offer an Acorns contribution option, say 30% to Beeminder, 70% to my acorns account. This is still HIGHLY motivating because I effectively lose ACCESS to that money in my bank account, but I don’t LOSE the money, at least not all of it. This percentage could creep to 100% in Acorns on the highest premium tier-- but that tier is STABLE revenue for you guys. I’d even sign a 1-year commitment and pay up front for that feature.
Another option at higher premium tier is just hold my money for say 3-6 months and give it back. You collect the interest, and I get my money back. Honestly, just not having ACCESS to my money is enough to motivate me to get things done. I can allocate all my fun money to goals and if I have a bad week, month, whatever, there goes my fun money. Ill have to wait 3 months to get it back.
I will absolutely NOT use this platform without a way to get my money back. I don’t mind the monthly fees, honestly-- that is more reliable income for you guys anyway and it’s easier for me to write that stable payment into my bills.
I think you should strongly consider these, but until then my wife will not be good with this kind of financial risk to the family---- it’s just not a smart way to spend money.
I’d love to hear back from you.
So much good stuff to discuss in this! For starters I hadn’t heard of Acorn, so, today-I-learned, as the old people think the young people say. Another tangential discussion is how technically or legally tricky this might be, with holding on to money for people. Realistically this probably wouldn’t happen very soon even if we were philosophically on board.
But that brings us to the philosophical question, which is the most fun to discuss/debate. I personally like being ultra-principled about not diluting Beeminder’s sting. When Beeminder is threatening, say, a $30 penalty, I don’t like there to be any fuzziness about that. Of course we’ve compromised on that in some ways, like the charity option in the fancy Beemium plan.
Another philosophical debate is about how it can feel like wasting money to pay Beeminder penalties. I’m so deep down the rabbit hole that that thinking feels kind of foreign to me, despite being aware that that’s a highly typical reaction. Like, “why couldn’t you just do the thing you wanted to commit to and, if not, just not do it, and not also cough up money on top of it?” And of course the answer is that you do more of the things that are important to you (including often earning money!) with Beeminder riding your butt. And Beeminder riding your butt means an occasional sting, but that’s super worth it. Derailing is not failing.
Ok, back to pragmatics: What would your wife say to you paying for the Beeminder premium subscription that lets you cap all your pledges at $0, and then sets up her own commitment device with you, like moving money from a budget category you like over to one she likes every time you derail?
So to be 100% transparent, that is exactly what I am going to do without the beeminder platform. After writing this article I did some mad google research and discovered I dont need this platform at all and transferring money to something my wife wants is EXACTLY what I am going to do using IFTTT, Habitica, and Qapital.
Basically IFTTT is going to monitor Habitica for certain behaviors, and if I do those, will contact Qapital and transfer money into something my wife wants… therefor moving my fun money into her fun money.
I like my fun money and will work to keep it. I have 0 risk of losing it to ‘sting’ me, I have to pay only ~$3 a month and my wife gets nice things when I lose nice things for messing up my habits. Win, Win, and Win —
Rhetorically, I wonder how many people turn away from your services because of this?
I wish you the best of luck in your future, I really do. You have an interesting vision… it just isnt for me I guess.
Thanks for your quick response.
This is interesting! And I wanna say I’m glad you found a solution and part of me is But I’m also a bit sad to see you go because the Beeminder team and this community here is dope and I think you and them would increase each other’s awesomeness. I think you’ll be missing out. But maybe I’m just projecting from myself .
This being sa(i)d there’s more things that come to mind:
- How do you keep your future self from undoing that Habitica <-> IFTTT <-> Qapital chain in moments of akrasia?
- How do set the amounts of money that is on the fence? Are you also gonna add some automatism for this? I’m thinking of the exponentially rising pledge amount.
- If you do that manually, how do you find out what is the motivating level of money for you?
- In the future or in a moment of akrasia maybe you will be more okay with your fun money going to your wife than you are now and the sting will lose it’s stingyness. Maybe not. But I see that risk.
I do find this idea of holding on to money, collecting interest etc. fascinating, though. That’s a great idea! And I think this might in fact be an alternative for people who aren’t ready (yet?) to go full Beeminder and commit themselves to possibly spending money.
And obviously I don’t know you or your family situation and so on so take this all with a grain of salt
I’m just throwing this all out here because Beeminder had a very positive impact on my life and turned out to be way more awesome than I anticipated. And in my head I can see you saying something like this, too, a few months down the road. But again I might be projecting here.
In any case, however you mean to tackle your akrasia I hope it works and I’m curious to hear if and how much it does!
My wife and I hold all our money in common, so this has been a little tricky for us at times, too. Four things have helped her to be more ok with it, in no particular order:
- I create a lot of goals that push me to do things that directly benefit her, like household chores we haven’t otherwise assigned.
- I’m a healthier and more responsible person when using Beeminder, and she’s told me she can see that in conversations we’ve had about it.
- I have several goals that are designed to help me make more money, both in the short and long term. This includes beeminding my work hours, improvements to my resume, and time spent building a hopefully-will-be-cacheflow-positive side project. Beeminding my work hours has been the biggest thing for her, since it’s a pretty concrete “Before Beeminder I averaged this much, after I created this goal I’m definitely working this higher number”
- As we’ve worked to get further ahead generally in our finances, the tension has decreased. Everything’s less stressful money-wise when you’re two-to-three months ahead on your bills and expenses.
Of course, a lot of this is context specific. I had the advantage of being able to try out Beeminder before getting married, so I had time to see if it would really work for me. I can see how that would be way harder to figure out if your wife isn’t on board.
We all love Beeminder here, but ultimately go with what works for you and your marriage.
I think I can answer all of this just by describing my plan.
In habitica, for starters, I want to track my dailies and make sure I do them. For argument sake, I have 10 dailies. I commit $200 a month to fun money. Let’s say I like to get a beer with my friends with fun money.
If I miss say 2 dailies a day for a week. At the end of the week IFTTT will review the week, and notice I missed 14 dailies of 70 possible…a weekly amount of $200 (for sake of argument 4 weeks in a month) is $50, 50 divided by 70 = 72 cents per daily totaling $10.08 Qapital transfer to my wife that week. If I wanted I could also do this on a sliding scale where it has different values based on difficulty of Habitica daily (trivial, easy, medium, hard) – the possibilities are endless.
It will be fully automated using native IFTTT integration presumably, but if they dont support what I want a custom built python flask app webhooked into IFTTT will do just fine.
(I happen to do automation for a living, so-- Yahtzee)
Sure I could fudge habitica in my favor, but that is a problem beeminder has too… there has to be some level of honesty somewhere. Frankly, if I am not LOSING the money I will be way more inclined to not just fudge habitica to avoid losing actual cash. My wife gets spa days or whatever at the cost of maybe beer with friends.
Back to the budget thing for a second: In our relationship the idea behind fun money is that it’s money that we’re not accountable to each other for how we spend it. You could easily cap your pledges and never spend anything near $200 in a month on derails, in which case it’d only be your fun money at stake. Have you had this discussion with your wife, or are you operating based on how you assume she’ll respond?
Oh this is great. In fact, we can implement vanilla Beeminder stings by ensuring that the amount of the hold is enough to earn the sting amount in a CD over 6 months. e.g. if the sting is supposed to be $5 and 6 month CDs yield 2% then take $125 (or whatever the math is) from the user and then refund the $125 at maturity after pocketing the $5 interest payment.
Only half joking.
Problem is… once you’ve been using Beeminder for a while, and you start getting money back… then it’s really tempting to start doing mental accounting and think things like, “Hey, I got a check for $125 from Beeminder today, so if I have another derail, I can just pay it with the money they just gave back. So no big deal.”
I have talked to my wife about it and her response was a pretty blatant hard pass … I told her my idea about transferring money to something she wanted for maybe missing chores or whatever and she loved it. To her it takes the sting out of days I don’t get to the dishes and I get the benefit of wanting to do the dishes so I get to do what I want with the money.
It’s really a win / win. At this point you guys can discuss whether you like my ideas or not. Maybe my plan fails and it isn’t motivational enough. Maybe I will be back.
I really just wanted to throw you some ideas that would have made this more palatable for me and my wife. Appreciate you heard me and hope you guys mull over some options as I still see this problem as a huge barrier for many people who might be customers.
Have an awesome rest of the day.
I don’t think the people responding are criticizing your new idea or anything. I think those of us who’ve found Beeminder to be the perfect tool for us sometimes assume it’s workable for everyone, cause it’s worked so well in our own lives and people are just trying to give suggestions. What’s important is what ends up working for you, and everyone gets that.
To reply (more broadly, not to you specifically) to the idea of losing money:
I think one of the things that affects this feeling that it’s a loss of money is that it’s not as obvious with Beeminder as it is for some other things that it’s a service. There isn’t a similar model in the cultural background to look at and compare it to in an obvious way, so it just feels like losing money.
When I first starting using Beeminder, and being the kind of person who can’t think without the use of analogies, I started thinking of it being like getting a trainer or a coach. With a personal trainer or coach pushing us, we’re never like, jeez, I lost all this money! Beeminder’s kind of like a personal trainer** who sometimes doesn’t even charge us once we get into the grove and start succeeding at the goal they’re training us with. When I asked myself, “How much would I pay a trainer or a coach to push me to get this goal where I want it?” and that amount was higher than what I had paid as a monthly average for the goal, I was fully on board after that.
Of course, I’m biased now that I work for Beeminder, but that only ever happened cause I fell so hard in love with it cause it’s helped me do so much! (I really wish I’d kept all of my graphs over the years instead of deleting them, but that’s a different post for a different time.)
(**Well, without the knowledge of proper form and etc., but sometimes people choose to use a trainer purely for the accountability of it, rather than their expertise)
I don’t see it as a great mystery (then again I use Beeminder for over 4 years. Beeminder is a service provided by a group of people under the legal form of a company. It is generally accepted to pay for services provided to you by other people. Still, the cost of Beeminder is (uniquely) variant to your own use of the service. You have full control on what you pay, and you can pay zero dollars for the service.
It’s kinda like a personal trainer, but sometimes they don’t take your money. Interesting how it can be harder to justify!
A personal trainer is a person your interact with. A software interface makes developers disappear from the user’s perception.
Glad you were able to setup a system that works for you and will keep you motivated. It’s a pity stuff like that IFTTT/qcapital doesn’t work for EU banks. I have money-related beeminder goal and I resorted to doing a manual bank transaction once per month.
That said, you’re still using a lot of the concepts behind Beeminder like precommitment and a third-party accountability. You might find some interesting discussions on the forum, hope you stay around!
I’m going to derail on a goal today, so I have been thinking about this today as well. My wife knows about beeminder and accepts it, but finds it very strange.
Her: “Well you don’t you just lie them, so you don’t have to pay. They won’t know”
Me: “But then I’m just lying to myself. I set the goal up. If I cheat, then it loses its power, and it doesn’t work”
The goal I’m going to derail on today is my goal to complete my daily to-do list. It is hugely valuable to me. I am able to get far more done every day thanks to the goal. It’s hard to directly link it to income or happiness, but it is probably worth thousands of pounds a year to me. The derail string is only $30, but (being a very cheap person) this feels extremely unplesant.
Humans tend to be loss adverse. If I could pay $30 a month to guarantee I get all my todo items done every day, I would pay with a smile, but being stung after the failure feels different.
I’m trying to think of it the other way around therefore. When I derail today, I am going to try and look to the future, and see this as a way to keep my motivation strong, ensure the goal continues to be effective, and help me get more done every day than I would otherwise. I could cheat, and record a datapoint despite not having finished the tasks, but that would be stupid in the long run, so I won’t!
Or to (very) loosely quote @dreev: Look at the $30 as an investment, a guarantee ensuring the power of Beeminder and your ability to beat your akrasia.
And what better way to spend money is there other than to invest it in yourself?
Fun fact: this is kind of how Beeminder started, with semi-automated tracking and money transfers between friends when they didn’t stick to their goals…
Beeminder has existed in some form since February of 2008, when we made a rather ad hoc tool for a friend to track her weight. The main feature was automated reminders to reply with your number each day, so we called it Kibotzer, the kibitzing robot.
(from the blog post about the name “Beeminder”…)
@pixelrebirth It’s been a while and I’m curious to learn how well your solution worked so far! Did it work as well as anticipated? Better? Worse? Is weaseling a problem? etc.