Get paid to ride your bicycle (or at least pay yourself)

Confession time. I’ve been fighting some nasty bike blahs for the past couple of weeks and have been struggling to find the motivation to get back to 100% bicycle commuting. You know how it can be, a new reason (ahem, excuse) every day. One day it was an early meeting. The next day it was because I had a late event. And so on. Somehow the bus was just feeling easier.

Then last week I stumbled across 21Habit, a sweet little website that eliminates the excuses from building new habits because you commit real money to the process of change. Operating on the adage that it takes 3 weeks for a new habit to stick, you set your goal,  plunk down $21, and the site administers the rest. Succeed for the day? You get to keep $1. Fail or think you can cheat the system by skipping your daily check in? They donate $1 to charity.

I loved the idea instantly. But then had a the real “A ha!” moment. This reminded me of something I’d heard before. And then I had a plan.  Seattle Children’s Hospital pays their employees extra for each day they don’t drive to work. Why not pay myself for each day I bike to work?

Here’s the math. Each day I opt for the bus, the fare is $2 each way. With autoload set up on my Clipper card, I wasn’t really feeling the purchase of the fare as I made the choice to bus rather than to bike. Put that way, did I really want to keep paying $4 a day for the privilege of cramming onto the jam-packed Muni 38-L for a jolting 30 minute drive downtown?

A quick stop at the bank for a stack of dollar bills and an old canning jar from the cabinet became my own habit incentive. Every morning, I now take $4 from the stack and choose: in the jar or to the bus?

The trick is working. I’m riding, Muni hasn’t gotten another cent, and I’ll stash away about $900 over the course of a year. Which begs the real question: what do I want to do with that money?

How do you keep yourself motivated to ride? How do you get yourself on the saddle when you’re moving slow? I’d love to hear from you @bicyclechica on Twitter.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Love this idea! I often use the rationale of an extra $4 when I ride my bike, but putting the money in a jar is a genius idea. I might try it as an extra incentive for a tough monthly challenge

  2. It really made a difference for me. (And, it’s an easy way to stash up a little savings for something fun — like a new camera!)

  3. […] been a month since I decided to pay myself for each day I commute to work by bike, and I’m excited to say that the habit is sticking. […]

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