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Occasionally, my hubby picks up a donut for a breakfast treat. I usually refrain from this particular indulgence; too fattening, too many calories, etc. Yesterday, since it was such a lean sweet day, I decided to join him for a donut.

I selected a beautiful glazed chocolate one for my splurge. After thoroughly enjoying this wonderful donut, an interesting thing happened: I felt really rewarded, pampered, and indulged. So I used these positive feelings to propel myself to action:

  • I did a quick clean up of the house
  • I prepared an exam for the MBA Finance class I’m teaching
  • I threw in a load of laundry

Flip this experience around a bit and see what happens. Could this help with money management?

Rewards and Research

Research shows that when developing a new habit, in order to reinforce positive behavior, rewards for success are crucial.

When assisting others with their financial goals, I always recommend maintaining a list of low-cost rewards to use whenever a financial goal is met. For example, track all of your expenses for a week; reward yourself. Or, pay triple the minimum on a credit card debt; get a treat. The reward serves a motivator to keep on track.

Getting control of your finances is difficult and time consuming. Frequently, the payoff is a long way off. If you have a mountain of debt, or a low paying job, then paying off that debt, or saving for an emergency fund takes a while. Give yourself a few rewards along the way, and it’s easier to stay on track.

What are Your Rewards?

Challenge yourself this week to a financial goal. Write it down. If you don’t write it down, it’s unlikely you will achieve it.

Next, spend a moment listing several low-cost rewards. If you are trying to lose weight, skip the donut.

One of my favorite rewards is a trip to the dollar store. There are scads of treats there for a buck each. Some rewards are even free; for example, treat yourself to an extra hour of “me” time, where you do a craft, go for a hike, read a magazine, or whatever is fun for you.

So, set a financial goal, accomplish it, and get a reward. You’ll feel awesome!

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