Stop the gamification of finances obsession
Questioning whether the constant gamification of finances is actually producing helpful results. Plus, an in-depth look at how to handle a health insurance billing mistake.
In My Humble Opinion
We need to stop obsessing about gamifying our finances.
Despite my general dislike of new year’s resolutions, I decided to join a “New Year, New Me” style challenge at my gym. Mostly because I’m hyper-competitive and anything that pits me against other people is indeed going to make me try harder. Oh, and there’s a cash prize. Anyway, earlier this week, one of the coaches started giving a pep talk during our cool down session.
“I’ve been reading a book called Finish, which is the sequel to a book called Start,” she joked, but it’s also true. “The author talks about how we obsess over streaks, but then as soon as we break a streak we just stop entirely. We’re so focused on perfectionism that we don’t actually complete our task or keep working towards our goal. We just stop.”
She went on to tie this into the challenge the gym is hosting and how you need to keep pushing if you mess up one week, but I had tuned her out and just kept thinking about the truth in her statement. Already this year I’d broken my streak doing Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day journey and mostly just stopped doing yoga entirely. I skipped a day of meditation on day 16 and spent the subsequent two days thinking, “Well, I broke the streak, so I don’t need to fixate on doing it today.” And don’t get me started on Duolingo streaks! Point is, we’re not even a month into 2023 and I’ve screwed up on three streaks and immediately jumped to an “it’s over” perfectionist mindset instead of a “let’s just reset and keep going” one.
The problem is, a lot of personal finance focuses on the gamification of your money. There are the savings challenges and no spend challenges. There are restrictive budgets that have accompanying apps or software to try and make it fun – or at least motivate you. Then, of course, there are the investing apps that use gamification or some even go so far as to use casino-style psychological tricks to get you to trade. (Investing apps could be an entire IMHO rant for another day.) A gamification feature often gets touted as helping the consumer, but I’m not so sure.