You can't force someone to change their financial behaviour until they're ready. But you can light a fire under them with the right incentives. At least that's the idea behind the website StickK.com.
The site, created by two professors and a student at Yale University, banks on the fact that those of us who put our money or our reputation on the line are far more likely to achieve our goals than those who don't. Academic research by the founders of the site has shown that using "commitment contracts" can more than triple your chances of success.
If you've been meaning to open up a tax-free savings account (TFSA) since January, 2009, or tried unsuccessfully for months to save an extra $100 each paycheque or set up a financial filing system, then maybe it's time to raise the stakes and finally get these goals crossed off your list.
Here's how it works: Set your goal and your timeline. Decide how much money you'll put on the line and decide where your money will go if you don't fulfill your contract. For extra motivation you can even designate an "anti-charity," a cause you don't believe in, to receive your funds.
Then, designate someone to monitor and verify your progress and choose supporters and friends who will receive e-mail updates of your progress. If you fail, not only will your friends, family and colleagues know, but you'll be forfeiting your own cash as a consequence.
Thousands of users have put millions at stake for a number of different goals. If you're fed up with a lack of follow-through, then this may be the answer. Achieving your goals will surely make your life better, and the thought of an e-mail train notifying friends and family of your failed attempts and a $50 donation to the National Rifle Association (NRA) may just be the two incentives to keep you on track.