I don’t know if this idea has been posted before, sorry if it has been discussed already!
Skimming over this thread: Beeminder vs CBT reminded me of some thoughts I had on this.
Premium users could have an extra way of making Beeminder goals (Disclaimer, I’m not premium.):
You pay a fixed amount to Beeminder every [unit of time], lets say $10 per a week. If you stick to your pledge that week then Beeminder pays you (say) $5 into your bank, and if you don’t then Beeminder pays you nothing. This way Beeminder makes profit either way (yay for you guys). For someone creating a goal it means you pay in advance, but then you get “rewarded” rather than “punished”.
Obviously if you did everything perfectly it would cost you $60 per year, and if you failed always it would cost you $120 per year. But psychologically it would seem like you pay $120 up front (say) for a motivational tracking service that rewards you with actual money.
Budgeting wise it would be much easier to “spend” the money upfront and then not assume that you have it. Later you can be “surprised” by getting half of it back (if you are successful). With the current system if you let a goal get quite expensive, and it’s the end of the month, and you fail your goal and pay Beeminder, and then you need to pay an important bill and buy some food, you can unexpectedly be in a bad place financially because you were counting on having that money that you had actually technically pledged to Beeminder. But the expectation is that you won’t spend it, so failing comes as a loss.
In this system you’d pay up front and would live off the money you’d have in the worst case scenario (expectation not to get any money back), so when you do succeed the extra money comes as a surprise!
Obviously the % paid back could be different than 50%, or it could be a fixed fee, or whatever.