« Is being drunk ever an excuse for anything? | Main | More young adults living with parents now than in past 20 years »

September 12, 2021

New site lets you set goals, put your own cash up as incentive

Pop quiz: what’s dustier, Angela Lansbury or your gym membership?

744491_bathroom_scale Indeed, your fitness regimen probably goes as many other Canadians’ does, which is poorly. Or, after a few weeks, not at all.

But what can we do? Every day across the country, some Canuck makes a New Year’s-like resolution to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less or whatever. More times than not, it’s assumed, they fail. For one reason or another, we can’t stay out of our own damn way.

Though perhaps Canadians ought to familiarize themselves with StickK, a new web service that puts your money where your mouth is. In order to complete your goal, the site puts your own cash up as a stake – achieve your goal, and you get your dough back. Don’t? Well, there are a few places it could go …

For starters, let’s all agree to admit we can’t police ourselves when it comes to achieving goals. Sure, we can set them, though agreeing to run a marathon by Easter sounds a lot better on Jan. 1 then it does in March, when it’s freezing outside and March Madness is on TV.

So along comes StickK.com.

The site was developed by Yale economists who, though behavioural research, essentially established this: unless our money or reputations are at stake, we won’t follow through with anything.

StickK, then, aims for accountability. Users sign up for the site, first, and select a goal. Say, to quit smoking within six months. Next, you set the stakes. Let’s say, $1,000. You enter your credit card info to the site (you’re not charged, of course) and StickK keeps your agreement on record. If you don’t quit smoking by six months, that thousand bucks is gone.

Sounds intriguing, right? Well, it is, and for anyone thinking of just cheating, StickK requires you to provide a referee to monitor your commitment contract, a sort of intermediary to confirm or oppose whether you’ve stuck to your goal by the end of your term.

And where the money goes is where StickK stands out. You can select a variety of options for where your cash is deposited should you fail your goal. Many people choose charities, such as the United Way or Red Cross.

But as an extra kick in the butt, you can also agree to send your commitment money to what StickK calls an “anti-charity” if you breach your deal – an organization or campaign you can’t stand, say the NRA or the fan club or your most hated sports team.

So far, StickK has more than 100,000 commitments created, for a total of $8 million-plus on the line.

Maybe, in your own quest to achieve a goal, you can add a few bucks to that tally, too.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...