The Reward—A Key To Making Habits Stick

One of the best-selling business books in 2012 was Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.  The book was a best-seller for a reason-it’s actually really good.

In it, Mr. Dughigg breaks down many of the not-so-obvious reasons that breaking bad habits and forming new ones is so difficult.  One of the keys to forming new habits, according to the book, is to have a system of reward for positive behavior.

One of the hardest habits to develop for most people is the habit of saving money.  Let’s face it—spending money is fun.  There’s no doubt about it!  Going out to eat, to the movies, to the club—it’s all pretty fun.  That’s why we do it.  Not going to movies, not going out to eat, and not going clubbing isn’t as fun.  The whole point of saving is to take control of our lives financially so that we can enjoy a more balanced, peaceful, and prosperous future.

If you have been striving to develop the habit of saving, consider simultaneously implementing a payoff or reward that is meaningful for you.  Then, at the end of the month reward yourself with these payoffs.  Not only will it give you the serotonin rush that spending money gives you, but if the process is designed correctly, it will inflict minimal damage to your monthly bottom line of savings.[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B007YLY4PA” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”” width=”405″]

Here’s how to do it:

Choose 2-3 hobbies or past times you enjoy deeply.  Brainstorm a product or service that you can purchase for each hobby.  Each purchase should be in the $10-$20 range.  Then, at the end of the month, buy them.  Don’t do it all at once, though.  That will just give you one giant serotonin rush!  Instead, spread the purchases out over a two week period, for example, to the get the optimal psychological benefit.

The Cost Analysis

Now, let’s look at the numbers.  Let’s assume you buy 3 products:  one for $20, one for $15 and one for $10.  You’ve spent a total of $45.  Now, if you have cut out eating out, movies, and clubbing for the month, that has probably saved you a few hundred dollars.  So, instead of blowing $300 on those things, you spent $45 on a few things you really enjoy.  This will help reinforce the habit of savings and simultaneously break the habit of spending money on non-essential items, such as that new DVD of Jersey Shore.

A Few Examples

To get the idea muscle going, here are a few examples to consider.  If you love books, commit to giving yourself a $10 bill to take to the local used bookstore.  This is probably enough for 2-3 books every month.  That’s plenty of books to keep building your world renowned library.

If you are a green tea drinker, consider importing Japanese green tea (the very best in the world).  Websites like and both provide high quality green tea for about $20 per package.  Not only will it be the best green tea you’ve ever tasted, but it will give you a massive rush of serotonin straight to the brain!


  1. Stephano says

    I have The Power of Habit and I agree – it is a very good book. Very informative read. Another EXCELLENT book on the same subject that I read recently is called Changeology. It was released late Dec 2013 and I found it so insightful.

    I have a few money saving goals for 2013 and I am determined to end the year with savings. I usually spend as much as I make and I know that is stupid.

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