I want to reward myself for doing good stuff, for real, not with points.
August 4, 2014 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I want to reward some good/healty behaviours automatically. Examples might be reaching 13K steps on fitbit or for reaching a fitbit goal for X days in a row. The obvious solution is IFTTT (not all goals are fitbit related, but I think I can make an IFTTT trigger happen easily enough). The problem is that I can't think of any IFTTT do-able reward. I am open to non-IFTTT-based solutions otherwise.

I want an actual real world reward that will be granted me somewhat automatically. By "somewhat" I mean that it would be ok if say I got points which I could the "spend" in some sort of rewards catalogue. I don't want points that let me level up where levelling up doesn't actually buy me anything. So I'm looking for rewards ideas. Note that while I'm suggesting IFTTT, I'm open to hearing other ideas.

Things I'm aware of and why they don't work for my purposes:

1. EarnedIt: Good: Points for fitbit activity that you can spend on stuff-like rewards.
Bad: The rewards aren't actually stuff, they're coupons for stuff that you have to spend money on. So say it will say $35 gift card, but it's for something that costs $70 and you can't use two gift cards, you have to pay for the rest. It's a coupon, not a gift card. And since I wouldn't buy that stuff otherwise, it actually costs me money instead of saving me money.

2. EveryMove Good: Supposedly it's actual stuff. I can't see rewards, so I don't know.
Bad: No rewards in Canada.

3. Walgreens Points Good: Points that become actual cash. I could even cope with only being able to spend them in the US, but...
Bad: It's 20 points per mile walked, with a maximum of 20 points per day for walking. So in other words, only the first mile counts. Since I always walk more than a mile per day, there's no incentive here.

Also, none of those work for non-fitbit goals.

I realize that the reason all the commercial versions have such crappy rewards (assuming EveryMove has crappy coupon rewards) is that there's no reason anyone would essentially pay me to do anything that doesn't somehow make them money. Therefore, I'd be willing to indirectly fund this myself, e.g. with a membership fee, hooking up a credit card to buy my own rewards, or say competing so I my money if I don't meet goals and those who meet goals split a pot or such.

I live in Canada, so ideally I'm looking for things that will work here, but I still want to hear about US-only things, just to get a sense of what's out there.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
What about an fitter trigger to email a specific place to order something? For example, I love fresh flowers, so I'd set up an automated email to my local florist. Might need some up-front organizing for payment details and so on.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:20 PM on August 4, 2014

Have you thought about Health Month? There's a MeFi team and you gain points throughout the month for completing the rules you set up. Each month, there's a box for what you'll do if you're successful/unsuccessful that month.

Granted, it's not automatic, but you could set it that "If I get X points, I'll get Y thing off my wish list" or something which may fulfill your other criteria.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why would any business give you money to walk more? (other than perhaps your health insurer?). I think you're going to have to find ways to reward yourself here.

HabitRPG could be used in this way, without worrying about the 'level up' stuff. For your purposes, ignore the 'dailies' (which kill your health if you don't do them). Just put your stuff in 'habits' or 'todos'. Then, every time you check off an item, or perform one of your habits, you earn coins. You can add custom rewards that cost whatever you want. So you could set it up so that buying that video game costs 100 coins, or that getting ice cream costs 20, etc.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:23 PM on August 4, 2014

HabitRPG is pretty commonly recommended here at AskMe. You can create a custom reward. If I want to eat out Friday and Saturday I need to have hit all of my good behaviors for the week because I've made the point cost of eating out pretty high.

I don't use any of the other game functions of HabitRPG. I don't have sword or anything like that, but I do appreciate the behaviors tracking and rewards.
posted by 26.2 at 6:30 PM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is an idea I half-developed and never followed through on.

1. Give a friend some funds and hints on good rewards for you. I think it would be good to have some cheap awards, like a favorite pen or lipstick, and then a few extravagant awards. Have them buy and package rewards for you. Could be gift wrap, could be boxes, whatever. You shouldn't be able to see what's inside. The reward packages should be clearly labeled with points. Do something nice for friend in exchange. In a perfect world the friend likes the idea and you can do the same thing for them.

2. The rewards packages go in your closet.

3. Ahead of time, you will have made a list of your goals and the number of reward points allowable for each.

4. When you earn the appropriate number of points, you get to select a corresponding reward and open it.

The weak spot, IMO, is the possibility of opening the reward packets in a moment of weakness. I'd probably post pictures of all the packets to a closed group and then notify the group every time I started to open one. "Today I reached my goal for the week of walking 10 miles, which is worth 50 points, now I get to open mystery item 1!"
posted by bunderful at 7:00 PM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's Gym-Pact where you're basically betting against other people vs yourself. I have not used it an I'm pretty sure you have to manually track, but you pay in towards goals and get paid back if you make them, or lose money if you don't.
posted by Brittanie at 8:13 PM on August 4, 2014

I just installed Carrot (ios only, sorry) which rewards you by adding useful features to the app every however many points. E.g. I reached 200points by completing items on my to do list and that unlocked the ability to reorder items in the list with drag and drop. Reaching the next milestone unlocked a home screen widget, and so on. It's more inspiring than I expected it to be, actually.
posted by lollusc at 1:59 AM on August 5, 2014

Is there any way you could automate a deposit of a small amount of money into a separate account every time you reach your goal? It'll add up pretty quickly and then you'll have a little nestegg to spend on yourself guilt-free!
posted by thebots at 12:39 PM on August 5, 2014

TheBots: yes, some way of automagically moving money into another account is kind of what I was hoping for, but I can't find a way to do this. I was thinking about something where maybe I could set up a "pot" of money and then it would become available for spending based on goal-meeting. There doesn't seem to be any way to make that happen, though.

I've installed GymPact (now just called Pact). It does have the advantage of rewarding with real live actual money (not much -- I'm anticipating about 50 cents/week). It does have a bit of a stick, since the penalty is $5 for not meeting a goal*. It doesn't require manual entry -- it syncs with fitbit, myfitnesspal and others automatically.

The big downside to this is that it only works for health/fitness goals and won't let you set up custom goals (which makes sense because they're impossible to verify and since I'd be getting other people's money, not my own, there really needs to be a way to verify.)

The other big downside is that the reviews suggest that there are plenty of people who feel like they're getting stiffed -- that they met their goals and somehow they weren't counted and they were charged. However, it looks like those tend to be people who are using the GPS check-in function with their gym. I haven't seen anything like that based on fitibit syncing, so hopefully it won't happen to me.

*The Economics of this are basically such that the reward has to be less than the penalty -- since the reward is made by people who don't meet their goals and people who are unlikely to meet their goals aren't likely to sign up or stick around, most people meet their goals.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:12 PM on August 6, 2014

yes, some way of automagically moving money into another account is kind of what I was hoping for, but I can't find a way to do this.

If your bank supports text banking, might you be able to use IFTTT to set this up? So the trigger might be hitting your fitbit goal, and the action is to send a text to your bank with the command to transfer a dollar to your reward account?

I know my bank has a text banking feature that includes transfers, but I haven't used it. It would probably require a second account at the same bank, which might not be a big deal depending on what else you plan to use that account for and whether there's a minimum balance requirement. The text banking thing might also require multiple texts to confirm the transfer - not sure if there'd be a way to automate responding (or if you'd want to).

I've been trying to encourage myself to pack a lunch instead of eating out - I've worked out the average cost difference, so I have the amount to transfer, but I'm not sure what the IFTTT trigger would be - possibly checking off a reminder on my phone would be easiest.
posted by nickmark at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2014

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