Who wants a trophy?
The Millennial Generation is given a hard time for being the “Trophy Generation” because when they were growing up it was common for everyone to get trophies on sporting teams or through other activities. And I think that this backlash is really a bunch of bull because who can honestly admit that they wouldn’t like the idea of getting applause and accolades for any amount of time and energy exerted? I think a number of the people who complain are just jealous that they didn’t get trophies growing up. In the song, Applause, Lady GaGa repeatedly shares that she “lives for the applause” and I don’t think she is alone, I think we all do.
I know I do!!
Positive feedback on our accomplishments is sometimes the greatest motivator even more than money. I know that when I had a boss, I lived for getting a nice email or phone call to tell me I did great work. Those emails or conversations meant more to me than I can express because they motivated me to work harder and earn even more of them. In fact, I was probably my most successful and productive when I worked for a boss who was a big fan of giving applause to his employees.
A few years ago, we hired a family psychologist to help us with my son who was diagnosed with ADHD and needed help working on behavior modifications so he wouldn’t get thrown out of kindergarten. She informed us that we should create a rewards chart for him and reward him every time he did something that we were trying to improve (i.e. sit at the dinner table through dinner, go to bed and stay in his room, etc.). My hubby immediately scoffed at this suggestion and said “I never got rewards when I was growing up, if I didn’t sit through dinner, I got hit with a wooden spoon.” He didn’t like the idea of “celebrating mediocrity.”
Our psychologist patiently pushed forward and said that children (and most adults) respond better to positive feedback rather than negative feedback and that we would probably get better results from our son by rewarding him than punishing him (which we had been doing up until this point). She provided us with a Word document to use and we put it on our refrigerator where my son could see it, and thus our rewards chart was born.
We saw immediate change in my son and an immediate improvement in our home life because yelling had now been replaced with rewarding. As my son completed more difficult tasks, he received larger rewards. After almost a year, we actually got to the point where we didn’t need the rewards chart to help him. However, every now and then we bring it back when he has something he needs to focus on, for example, this year he started getting homework after school and was very whiny about it, so we reinstated the rewards chart.
Applause for my clients
I have rewards charts for my clients, and they are based around the goals that we establish. I check my client’s progress to goal every quarter and for those who are on track or exceeding their goals (which could include saving money, paying down debt, improving credit scores, etc) they receive a reward from me. It is not anything huge, and for most it is a Starbucks gift card since they likely had to cut back on Starbucks to hit their goals faster; however, when they get the card they are even more motivated to work harder towards their goals.
Sometimes it is not just the reward that motivates, but it could be an email or text from me telling them that I am proud of what they have done and to keep up the good work. I am their biggest cheerleader on their path to financial health, and I use applause to keep them focused.
Give yourself a hand
I encourage anyone working on his or her financial health on their own to create a reward chart and give themselves the applause they deserve when they hit various financial hurdles. Just like we do with my son, the rewards should grow with the goals, for example, if you save $100, then you can get an extra latte for the week, or if you save $500, you can get a dinner out or a mani/pedi or something. Here is a sample chart that is similar to the one we used for our son. For couples working on financial health, I encourage you to be a cheerleader for each other and give the applause that is deserved. Financial fitness is tough to accomplish and even more difficult to maintain, we all need the applause to keep us motivated.
Gif Source: Giphy
Do you reward yourself for achieving financial goals big or small? What do you do to celebrate?