Tag Archives: long-term

Monday 113: Carrots & Sticks

Monday, 8 May 2017

Motivation comes from the potential of a reward, or the threat of punishment.  Sometimes the latter has a more immediate effect, but the former has, I would think, better long-term effects.

With the desire to retire getting stronger – especially as I find myself more excited about my daily life – it is so easy to want immediate gratification than stay the course to debt reduction and increased financial independence.  At times, this endurance becomes tiresome.  Where is the pleasure in life without new things?  What, no fun?  It really shows how far we have yet to go in changing our mindsets, but astonishingly, we are getting there.  Slowly.

Here is an example:  the other day, we were both getting over physical ailments, like stomach upsets and migraine-like headaches.  Just the thought of cooking felt exhausting.  I suggested sending out for pizza.  Mr. 182 said,

“Since we are trying to cut back on spending money, let’s just do grilled chicken.”

Not wanting to ruin the moment, with my usual sarcastic humor (sarcastic to others, humorous to me), I simply agreed.  Inside, I was thrilled as he became a bit of a carrot for me!

What is a motivating factor?  Sometimes it has to be a short-term motivator, and sometimes it has to be a long-term motivator.  Saving money by grilling chicken was an immediate solution to a presenting problem.  But, there are times when the long-term has lost its appeal simply because it l-l-o-o-n-n-g-g.

Short-term appeal sometimes is the better motivator.  For instance, I wrote a bit back about wanting to increase our savings to $2,000.00 / month.  This means that debt reduction will slow down.  There are two reasons for this decision.  The first, and true short-term motivator, is our planned vacation in the first few weeks of next August.  It is an important vacation as we are traveling with Mr. 182’s parents on a somewhat historical family road trip.  I want to have more than enough money for it, and be able to come home without a big dent in our savings plan.  The second reason is the unspoken one:  I want us to quit spending extra money even more than before!  We need to (keep) get(ting) our thrift on.

Additionally, this month, we have a potential $1000.00 car repair, for which we have planned and saved.  After this car repair, we have no other scheduled “big” payments, such as insurance or taxes, until next December.  I would like to see our savings account better equipped to handle these expenses than in the past, which, by the way, have improved from 2016.  I’d like them to be even better than they were in 2017 for 2018, and so on.

When motivation wanes, it has to be re-stimulated.  Focus needs to be refocused.  Finding new ways to stay focused is creative, and necessary, because the road ahead for us is a long slog.

Our habits of years are still struggling to dominate, and perhaps spending is our addiction.  Perhaps that addiction “gene” is not one that is gonna ever go away.  Controlling it may be all we can hope to do, which may sound defeatist, but that may be our reality.

We have to acknowledge our desire to spend much as an alcoholic has to admit to being an alcoholic to get onto the path, straight and narrow as it may be, as restricting and unpleasant as it may be, as challenging as it may be.  We are our own worst enemies, and our own salvation.