Budgeting as Health Motivator

Hi YNAB Community,

I've been loving using YNAB since 2018 to help me build confidence in my financial future while I'm in my mid-20s. Recently I started leveraging my budget in a new way that has really helped improve my life, and I wanted to share with the community in case anyone else would find a similar strategy helpful.

I have some chronic health problems which I've been struggling with, both physically and emotionally. One of my issues is chronic joint point. I'm supposed to do regular physical therapy exercises to treat this pain, but I often feel extremely discouraged and sad about my health. I don't do my PT because I feel sad, and then my pain gets worse. The cycle continues.

Recently I was thinking that it was a shame that I couldn't be as compliant with my health plans as I am with my budgeting plans, and a light bulb went off! 💡 I can use my budget as part of my motivation plan. 

I am extremely motivated by food - although I don't eat out too often, I love enjoying a delicious meal out every now and then. I am also really motivated to never overspend in my dining out budget! I reworked my budget this month to remove all the money from my Dining Out line to a new line, called Health Fund. Every time I do my PT exercises, I get to move $15 from the Health Fund to Dining Out. Now if I want to go get a delicious burrito with my coworkers for lunch or split some pizza with my roommates for dinner, I have to do my exercises regularly.

Since I started this practice at the beginning of the month, I have been doing my PT 3-5 times a week. At first, I felt really motivated to be able to move the money. But now, I have started feeling much better every day and I am in less pain. I've started swimming and hiking for fun/exercise again. It was such a huge help to be able to use my budget not only to track and control my spending, but also to use it to live my values and priorities in all aspects of my life. 

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  • Great idea, could use the same incentive for going to the gym, will have to discuss with my wife.  We do go to the gym at least 3 times a week but would be fun to get a reward for that.  May even stir a little competition between us to get more rewards LOL.

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  • so nice to hear you found a way that works!

    I'm a bit hesitant myself, as rewards sometimes seem to undermine intrinsic motivation...; I'll do something because I get a reward also somehow tells you that without a reward it wouldn't be worth it. So if I dont get a reward, I won't do it!

    You seem to have managed to only use the reward to get you to intrinsic motivation again; exercise is worth it because the effects of the exercise itself are the reward (joy, feeling much better). Well done!! Inspiring to hear. :-)

    • Powder Blue Pony Yes, I definitely understand your concern. I think, though, if you identify a goal that you will be intrinsically motivated to accomplish once you're out of your immediate motivation-crisis (e.g. not being in pain all the time!), using extrinsic motivation can be a helpful nudge to get you over the hump of the hardest part. I think extrinsic motivators get a bad rap, but can be a used effectively as a tool without becoming an end in themselves.

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    • Spring Green Tugboat yes with you there. 

  • I love, love, love this.  Was at PT this morning for my neck (too much time sitting at my desk at work) and I was trying to think how I can remember to do my exercises.  Hmmmm, the wheels are turning now!

    • Frugalflamesfan I hope that my experience did help you. And I'm sending you supportive thoughts for your PT and your healing!!

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