Being human in the modern world involves making some tough decisions. Everyday in life we have to do things that we wouldn’t normally choose to do in our jobs, at our homes, in our relationships, and in other areas of our lives. Let’s face it, if we were given the choice between cleaning the bathroom or watching a favorite movie, most of us would choose the favorite movie.

If we were to make our choices based off of pleasure alone, then chores like cleaning the bathroom or completing our taxes on time would go by the wayside – especially with the perfect weather we have in San Diego! It’s true that we can find a good balance and give ourselves pleasurable rewards during our debt payoff journey.  Here are some ideas for you to consider:

The Psychology of Rewards

Have you ever heard of Operant Conditioning? This is a phrase coined by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner to describe a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through positive and negative reinforcement, a person learns that there are consequences to their behaviors. Positive reinforcement increases a certain behavior, and negative reinforcement decreases a certain behavior.

Why not use some psychology on yourself? The type of financial restraint needed during debt payoff mode is not as hard to achieve if you know you have a reward coming down the pipeline to positively reinforce your good behavior.

Leaving Yourself a Trail of Cookie Crumbs

Rewarding yourself at various checkpoints along your debt payoff journey can really help you to stay motivated. Before deciding on what the reward will be, you need to decide when you will reward yourself.

Measurable wins (deserving of a reward) might include reaching a certain amount of debt that was paid off (for example, the $5,000 mark, then the $10,000 mark, and so on), or perhaps after a certain time period of living within your budget (the one-month mark, then the six-month mark, etc.).

As an example, perhaps you have a student loan, a car loan, and a vacation on a credit card, commit to treating yourself after the successful final payment for each loan. This is a small price to pay to keep you motivated towards reaching your next milestone. Fortunately for all of us, using this psychological trick does not even need to cost much.

Frugal Rewards that Will Not Break Your Bank

While finding a reward to motivate you is based entirely on personal taste, here are some ideas to get you in the mindset that a reward or splurge does not need to cost a lot of money:

  • Dessert Out: Why not splurge on a really nice dessert? This means that you will still get to go out, but for under $10. And we’re so fortunate in San Diego to have places like Extraordinary Desserts in Banker’s Hill, Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park, and Chocolate in Hillcrest – all really close.
  • A Signature Drink: Is there a particular signature drink that you have been craving? Personally, I love a decaf grande nonfat Misto with 4 pumps of sugar-free mocha syrup (or a Starbucks gift card will do!). It’s something that I do not drink often, but when I do, it feels like such a treat.
  • A Personal Day: Do you have a vacation day that is calling your name? Why not use it and just relax all day long? If you do not have an entire day, taking a half day on a Friday is always very nice as well. Make a quick trip to Sunset Cliffs or OB.  Watch that beautiful sunset, and remind yourself how luck you are to be in America’s Finest City. 🙂

Thank you to ReadyForZero for contributing.