Beeminder Forum

Possible to lock money start of project

Is it possible to lock an amount of money once you start the project?

Let’s say you put 1000$ in once you start the project and you only get them back if goal is fulfilled.

I’m asking this as I wish to lock a lot of money in as I find it easy to cheat with the current system.
You can easily block your credit card if you see your goal is not going well. As Beeminder first charge the amount later.

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Hi! This isn’t possible in Beeminder as-is, and the various permutations of this people have suggested in the past have been either impractical or not legal.

If it helps to know, locking a credit card and refusing to pay will mean the account just won’t work properly… and support do get CCed on every single failed charge, so it’s not just flying under the radar – we quickly realise what users are doing when they cheat like that.


I’m so glad that you posted here seeking help.

You can easily block your credit card if you see your goal is not going well.

To me, this literally screams that you need some assistance in creating achievable goals. I would encourage you to share some of your goals here, along with your struggles with those goals when you encounter difficulty. But of course, only if you’re comfortable doing so.

If you’re like me, some things I’m personally attacking with beeminder took me years or a lifetime of bad habits. The bad habits aren’t going to magically disappear overnight just because we have an app.

If you know anything about fishing, you might know that if you try to pull in too heavy of a fish, or try to pull in too quickly, the line will snap. Your beeminder goals are going to have some strength to them, but if they are too aggressive, you’ll break right through them. So you need to learn how to adjust them so they nudge you in the right direction, rather than attempt to force you.

You can bring in a large fish on a weak line if you’re patient and give it a lot of slack.

I’ll give you one simple example. “They say” you should drink 64 oz of water every day. But I don’t like drinking water. So I made a goal to drink one bottle of water per day, which for me is 23 fluid ounces. That’s far less than the idealized amount that I should be drinking. Then I keep track of how much water I drink per day. It’s a bit difficult for me, but I know that I can do it.

I also know that over time, as I get more and more used to drinking water, it’ll probably get easier and easier. And then I’ll start seeing the graph increase, giving me lots of buffer. Once that happens, I’ll either ratchet my goal to make sure I keep drinking water every day, or at some point I’ll probably change the slope by requiring myself to drink 30 fluid oz, 40 fluid oz, etc.

Personally, I want my goals designed such that if I put in a little extra effort for a week or some period of time, I’m building up a buffer.


Would be cool if they just implemented it instead.

I actually got inspired by a book I read recently, where he took almost all his life savings in to write a book. From my understanding he used Beeminder.

I think that is so cool and would love to insert high amounts of money however I think it will work better if you inserted the money in first and and not that they charge your credit card later.

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What book was that?

The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter


There’s stuff about Nick’s crazy high pledges here: Spiraling Into Control | Beeminder Blog


I feel like this is a great use case for Smart Contracts. You could lock the money into a contract and define an oracle for whether your project has been accomplished or not based on your Beeminder data. The smart contract queries the oracle to check if it can give you the money back or send it to a cause of your choice.

But frankly, if you want to cheat, you will be able to cheat by inserting fake data, even if you lock in the money beforehand.


That’s a great link, and my other advice is in alignment with what Nick says:

First, make Beeminder easier. Perform triage on goals and habits you’re not confident about. Keep the ones you know you can do in Beeminder. For the rest, either take them out of Beeminder until later, or make them easier. Turn “study Chinese for half an hour a day” into “study Chinese for at least one second, five days a week.”

I’ll also copy/paste what I’ve said here before:

There’s an almost paradoxical thing about paying Beeminder money. On the one hand, nobody in their right mind WANTS to give them derailment money, and a healthy fear of loss of money is a good thing. On the other hand, derailing and giving them money is part of the process, so one shouldn’t fear that to such an excessive level that they would feel like cheating.

But if one DOES hurt from the loss of money to the extent that they want to cheat, then that’s a signal that they have overcommitted beyond what’s healthy and effective, and need to revaluate the money or the goal. Also I’ve said this:

The threat of having to pay $5 might not be enough. If you derail on that, maybe the threat of having to pay $10 will be enough. But if that’s not enough then maybe the threat of having to pay $30 will be enough. You have to pay beeminder to find what your motivational point is.

But if you reach some financial threshold (whether that’s $5 or $500) and you keep failing, then that’s a signal that one needs to reevaluate their beeminder goals. In fact, now that I think about it, any and every beeminder failure is a potential signal to reevaluate one’s beeminder goal. I’m going to incorporate that into my own Philosophy of Beeminder.

[EDIT: I’m a newbee so take this advice/opinion with that in mind, it was worded a bit to strong.] Yes this is good, I think. A Beeminder failure isn’t JUST a finanical penalty, ok thank you try again harder. It’s a very serious issue, every time. It’s MUCH more serious than just losing money. It’s a signal that Something Is Very Wrong. It demands careful introspection on the cause of failure and the goal such that one plans to Never Fail Again.


I was with you until you said this. :wink: I think derailing is definitely a good signal for evaluating if a goal might need some adjusting. But at certain times it may be worth it to lose the money in order to take a breather on a particular goal, and that doesn’t necessarily mean something is fundamentally broken. If something else comes up that’s worth losing $30 to Beeminder, then it’s perfectly rational to make that trade, and Beeminder did its job by forcing me to confront the trade-off between the present situation and my future goals.


Thanks for the balanced perspective. Of course, I’m a newbee here. Edited above reply to reflect that. :blush:

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No worries! There are people who hold that stronger position, and no rule against that. I just happen to be quite opinionated on that point. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Also super happy you’re in the community!


I’d like to clarify my position on this, some additional thoughts I’ve had about it. Again, I’m VERY new at all of this, so any of this may change with experience.


My personal philosophy/strategy is to get ahead a bit on my beeminder goals, so that I have some buffer for the occasional lapses.

And I think one of the important takeaways from my prior writing is for me to keep in mind that failure on a beeminder goal is more serious than just the financial penalty. So if the day gets late, my resolve gets a little weak, I don’t want to have the mindset of thinking “Ahh it’s just $5, I’m okay with paying out $5 to not do that particular goal tonight.”. No, it’s more important than that.

How much more important it is, that’s debatable and is a personal preference. But I think that’s an important question for each person to answer.

Also, I’m adding in buffers by doing more than the minimum required in order to give me those occasional days off.


So if I derail, my thinking will be like this:

  1. Why did I derail? Was there a valid reason such as illness or exception in the fine print?

  2. Do I need to be a little easier on myself, and have (and maintain) more buffer days?

  3. Have I simply not reached my motivational pledge point? If so, then it very well may be a case of just accepting the derailment and moving to a higher motivational pledge point.

  4. If I have not reached my motivational pledge point, but I also do not want to increase my maximum pledge, then I need to reframe the goal to something easier. One needs to be mindful to frame their goals within the bounds of their financial ability to reach their goal’s motivational pledge points.

  5. Beeminder is based on the hypothesis that a sufficient pledge amount would affect a behavioral change. But that might not be absolutely true for every goal. So the question becomes, are there some other things that need to be added to my personal “behavioral change and commitment stack” that might help me to avoid detailing again? Some examples might be, (1) talk to my therapist or accountability partner about it (2) journal about it (3) brainstorm other ideas how to better commit (4) include some other punishment in the fine details (atonement). Example for #4 might be doing a bunch of situps, or doing community service like cleaning up trash of the side of the road. Or anything really!

  6. Is it an acceptable utility/expense ratio? (Aka, the @narthur clause.) If the goal is not amenable to having buffer, and one is happy with their progress even with an occasional derailment, then that is also fine. It’s a matter of utility versus expense.

    For example, someone has a big problem brushing their teeth consistently. So they create a continual beemergency $10 contract to brush their teeth every day, and they only derail twice a year, then that’s a very successful outcome for $20, which they can afford, and nothing needs to change.