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Make Sure to REWARD Yourself After Accomplishments

by J. Money on Thursday, October 20, 2011

hip shirt

We talk a lot about saving money, and always keeping a good eye on our finances, etc, etc, but every now and again it’s important to REWARD yourself for your good behavior too.  To keep yourself motivated and going strong w/out the chance of burning out prematurely.  Budgets are still sexy and all that, but you gotta make room for some fun too!  Or some new baubles or toys or whatever else gets you out of bed in the morning ;)

This comment below was left on my site last week, and sparked a reminder for MYSELF to keep dangling those carrots in front of my own goals too – I tend to go-go-go and forget to pat myself on the back when needed.  Check it out:

Back in my college years, I would play [the lottery] right before a test. That way during the test I would be less stressed because I would think about winning the lottery.

Haha…  I find that all kinds of awesome.  Not because I’m a big lottery man, which of course you all know by now, but because it’s funny to me how easily our brains are tricked into feeling better! And in this case, all it took was ONE DOLLAR to de-stress yourself a bit! Haha… if only everything in life was solved that easily ;)

What I also liked about this, though, was that it triggered a memory of my own from back in the day too. One that I find particularly helpful even today, and even though it just popped back into my head :)  Back in college I had a whole BUNCH of motivational tactics I’d use to get through the work – especially the boring stuff.  And one of those had to do with taking tests as well. Only for me, I’d reward myself AFTER taking them in order to keep myself sane!  It wouldn’t matter WHAT I got on the test (though, obviously that’s important), but it definitely got me through all that studying and hard work the 24 hours leading up to it ;)  And my reward for taking these tests were simple:

For each test I completed, I allowed myself to go to the mall and by a new t-shirt!

That’s it! I could buy any shirt I wanted as long as it was $20 or less – no questions asked. (I add that last part not because anyone would ever question me about it, haha, but so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty for spending the money I set aside for just that — ME!). Even though it was a small amount in the grand scheme of things, it was enough of a reward to get me excited and to push through the hardest parts of the nights.  The ones where at 3 am you’re literally going back to the gas station for your 2nd or 3rd big gulp of coffee before you pass out, haha… but hey – you were gonna get a killer t-shirt afterwards ;)

That’s a silly example to my main point to all this, but it was something that worked for me and something I hope you all are setting up for yourselves too: Little pats on the back that don’t cost much, but keeps your spirits high and your game plans on track. Over the years I’ve been getting into the bad habit of forgetting to set these up even for myself, so this is a reminder for me as much as it is for you. We can’t be going full-force ALL the time or we’ll slide through life without enjoying it!

So make sure to take the time and reward yourself here and there for time well served. If t-shirts aren’t enough to excite you, tell us what is!  Maybe your tricks will help motivate us too? Share the love below and let’s see what kinds of prizes we’re giving ourselves… I need something new to treat myself with ;)

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(Photo by Bobby-james)


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie October 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

I need to do stuff like this more often. The last time I remember really rewarding myself was when I got a promotion at work a couple of years ago. Except it wasn’t really a little reward, more like 4 new dresses! Though they were all on sale and only cost me a total of $80, so I guess that’s not that bad since I had just gotten a 5k/year raise!

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2 Megan Cassidy October 20, 2011 at 9:48 am

I love going for coffee or ice cream after I’ve finished a chore, like cleaning my apartment or getting everything crossed off my to-do list. Sitting and relaxing in the coffee shop makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside after getting stuff done.

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3 J. Money October 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

@Stephanie – Yeah! Not bad at all :) You should give yourself more pats on the back – even if they were super small things like taking a day off just for YOU or something like that. Doesn’t always have to be money-related either :)

@Megan Cassidy – YES!!! I like that!! I bet it keeps you super motivated too knowing what’s about to happen around the corner :) My dad used to buy us slurpees after all hikes we did growing up – and that was one of the best treats! And sometimes hiking was fun too, haha… okay, all the time.

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4 Happy Homeowner October 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

I love this because I’m currently going through another season of financial change and trying to figure out how to balance wanting it all. Typically, I’ll reward myself with non-monetary things like reading a (free to me) magazine or doing absolutely nothing for an extended period of time (an hour to just be–it’s amazing!).

My financial rewards would be to transfer more to my savings account for whatever upcoming trip I’m saving for (there are a lot), then print out the new balance and stick it to a new picture of my wished-for destination. This strategy got me to Greece last month and is paving the way for Ireland in the spring!

But I do love me some ice cream and slurpees, so perhaps I’ll have to find a way to work those in…Mmmmmm

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5 KZ October 20, 2011 at 11:23 am

One word: travel! After difficult/challenging projects at work, I’ll treat myself to an experience in a new city. Leaves me both refreshed AND re-charged for the next set of projects! :)

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6 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager October 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I try to motivate myself constantly, by breaking up my tasks into smaller pieces. When I was in high school it would be clean part of my room, read a chapter of a book, clean my room, read a chapter, etc. In college it was classes, then the gym (or ice cream depending on my mood) and now it’s work, travel, work, happy hour with friends, etc.

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7 Justin Wright October 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm

This is a great piece of advice, something I do need to do myself more often. I tend to be an over-saver, so it’s really easy for me to let large periods of time pass by without rewarding myself.

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8 Trinnie S October 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

When I’ve had a hard day, or I’ve busted butt on a work project and succeeded (or even failed), then I like to treat myself with 1 word: lipgloss (or lipstick)! To me, there’s no better feeling than smearing a new lipstick or a new lipgloss on my lips…it used to be that this was an inexpensive treat but now that I’ve discovered luxe brands, like, oh, Dior(!!!) it’s about a $25 expense…

With that being said–I have had an absolute horrible day, so momma’s getting a new lipstick!

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9 Dr Dean October 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Hey J Man,
When I was in medical school, back in the dark ages….(I said it before you could)

We had a group that busted it to get a good average, then would go to the local blues/folk bar for a beer and music the night before big tests.

Yea my GPA was less than it coulda’ been, but I was a lot saner than many of my peers…

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10 David October 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I am going to de-stress on the way home and go buy a lottery ticket that may be worth a dollar and I haven’t done it in years. During my MBA years our statistics professor told us to never buy a lottery ticket unless the lottery was over $220 million at this point the odds were greater than a dollar or something like that anyway the idea is great, de-stress for a dollar. All night I bet I will think of what to do with the money if I win.

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11 Kathryn C October 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

GREAT idea! I have been working so hard lately, and not feeling any rewards, and was just thinking I need to set up some “small wins” to keep myself motivated, and then reward myself after. Thanks for the timely note!

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12 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey October 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm

A former colleague taught me to reward myself every time we close a deal or finish a project. We also use the reward system to our kids each time they excel in an exam or won a contest to motivate them to always give their best.

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13 Kris @ Debt-Tips October 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

What a great reminder about something that is so important, yet for myself I hardly ever do.

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14 Maria Nedeva October 21, 2011 at 4:48 am

Good morning, J$ and friends. Interesting post, this one! I feel compelled (about this one later) to make two comments:

1) This is the blog I come to regularly – like the company. As to how sexy budgets are, I see it like this – budgets are like pin-ups. Richard Gere is fit (was fitter ten years ago) but John is my man. Richard Gere is the budget and John is the ‘budgetting’. Since I have passed the age of pin-ups, I have no budget but I do budgeting (norm vs. knowledge)

2) Rewards are wonderful things! What I found difficult when I started noticing money is not to reward myself but to have fun. Rewards are necessary when one does things from ‘discipline’ not from ‘motivation’. I have been developing the motivation side of me for a long time (this is when it is not that you love doing things from the outset but learn to accept, and then like them; in such cases no need to force yourself and reward self for good behavious – the reward is the activity itself). The ‘having fun’ aspect was solved by having an ‘I am so worth it’ account – we put certain amount in that every month and the condition is that it has to be spent. Crazy, I know; but it feels so good to enjoy the finer things in life without guilt.

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15 J. Money October 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

@Happy Homeowner – Hahaa…. I wouldn’t know what to DO with myself with a “free” hour! :) But I hear ya on the vacation stuff — We hit up Greece a few years back, and Ireland is close to my next place too!! How awesome would it be if we ran into each other there? Hard to miss a blue-haired George Washington, eh? ;)
@KZ – I can get down with that!. One of my fave aspects to Love Drop (and the reason we set it up that way – to travel somewhere new every month :)). Big fan of new experiences.
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Haha, I like that. Esp ice cream over gym part ;)
@Justin Wright – Yup! And remember, you don’t only have to reward yourself by spending money either — you can do something else like giving yourself more free time or something too. Though money does open up a lot of excellent reward options ;) Btw, just got back from reading your blog for the past 30 mins — CONGRATS on hitting 3 years of self-employment my man! Love your thoughts on it, and love going back and checking out your old stuff too – well done my man, well done. And it just so happens I’m still in my pajamas today, too ;) Now back to responding to these comments.. 30 mins later, haha…
@Trinnie S – I like it!!! And could totally see that being a fun treat ;)
@Dr Dean – Hah! Really? The night before? I think you outbeat me in that department, I’m impressed! Even more so ;) Well done good sir, your wifey would be proud. Or is that where you met her?
@David – Haha yeah – go for it! I’ll take 20% commission too for giving you the idea ;) Hope you win!!
@Kathryn C – Thanks for your smiley face! :) Will I be honored to see you at BlogWorld in 2 weeks, my friend? It’s in your back yard!
@Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey – I like it :) Kinda like $5 for every A you get on a report card, yeah?
@Kris @ Debt-Tips – It’s hard to keep on it sometimes, which is why I like to shoot out reminders here every now and then :) For my readers AND for me!
@Maria Nedeva – 1) Haha… you crack me up, girl.
2) I love it! I’ve heard of a lot of different names for that account, but never “I’m So Worth it” – I’m gonna have to use that one later ;) Or perhaps now, with a tweet? Thanks for sharing! Have a beautiful weekend!!

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16 Don October 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

This is exactly what we did when we paid off our mortgage! Well actually everything we paid off $10,000 (we called them milestones instead of accomplishments), we would go out to eat at a fancier (relatively) restaurant! It was a nice little reward for a job well done :)

My rewards after accomplishing my milestones were cheap compared to the cost of the goal accomplished…

Now I would like to do the same, except with vacations instead of a dinner… ;)

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17 J. Money October 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Wowww there you go! I can’t believe you paid off your mortgage?? I cannot WAIT until that fateful day. And now we actually have a plan in place for once! We were like those people who always wish on hitting the lottery but never play – just for us, it was paying something off the mortgage :) J. Money 2.0, baby!

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18 Andrew October 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

Having milestones/goals, and little rewards along the way is a great idea. Nice piece.

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19 J. Money October 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Thx dude – appreciate it :)

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20 Paula @ Afford Anything October 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hmmm. If I can get washboard 6-pack abs, I’m sending myself to Hawaii. For like, 3 months. Yea working from home!!

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21 J. Money October 31, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Yeah girl! I’ll come out and join you too! (Without the abs though, haha…)

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