Lately I have taken to gambling. No…it’s not craps or cards or slot machines or even lottery tickets (which I believe are a tax on people who are bad at math, but that’s a story for another time). I’ve been betting on myself. My latest favorite smart phone app is called “StepBet.” And I’ve been using it to bet on whether I can keep myself moving.
I sometimes have trouble keeping myself motivated to exercise (despite my desire to do a half-marathon in September). But money is a great motivator for me. And if I can get someone to pay me for doing something that is good for me, I’m all over that. So I signed up for my first StepBet last November. The app connects with my fitness tracker to make sure I’m taking all of the steps I need to. Based on my average performance, StepBet calculated that I needed to complete about 8,300 steps four days a week (my “active” goal) and 10,500 steps two days a week (my “stretch” goal). One day a week I get to slack off. And as long as I was able to keep it up for six weeks, I would win. I paid in $40 to participate in the bet. I was one of 125 participants. Only 87 of us succeeded in getting all of our required steps for the full six weeks. So after StepBet took their cut from the money of those who lost, I was paid out $50 for winning. Not a great hourly rate, but a 25% return for doing something I should be doing anyway is not a bad deal.
Now I’m in my second StepBet. It started on Christmas Day and I just finished week 4. My required number of steps are a little higher this time around because the first bet bumped up my averages. And I’m still going strong. So far 20 of the initial 159 players have been eliminated. And I know I can do this to get back my money plus some from those who fail. I won’t allow myself to fail because I don’t want to lose my $40. And it’s not always easy to pull off. There have been many days when I’ve found myself marching in place in my living room to get to my necessary step number (steps are steps, whether they are moving forward or moving in place or dancing to 80’s music, right?—it’s all exercise!).
So, I guess this isn’t really gambling, since it’s not a game of chance. It’s more a game of resolution. If you have a fitness tracker and are confident that you can move on a regular basis, it’s kind of a fun way to make a little extra money without a lot of effort. And if it helps to keep you healthy, you win twice!
A couple of weeks ago I discovered a smartphone app called Pact that pays me cash for doing things that are good for me (that I happened to be doing anyway). So far I have earned $4.61 for exercising and eating fruits and veggies. And I don’t know yet how much I’ll get for this past week’s success, but I’m thinking it’ll be close to another $2.00. Not bad. Not bad at all, considering that I really haven’t even had to change my behaviors.
This week I started using another app that rewards my good behavior…but with this one the reward goes to charity. Charity Miles tracks the miles that I run, walk, or bike. For every mile I walk, a corporate sponsor makes a donation to a charity that I pick from a lengthy list of options. Again, I was going to be walking and running and biking anyway. Charity Miles just adds a little extra bonus that helps a good cause. It’s a win/win. If you have a smartphone and you like to move, maybe you should give it a try. The charity you help will appreciate it!
I’ve started wagering. I don’t normally bet on things because the odds of losing are so much greater than the odds of winning, so it just doesn’t make financial sense. (Though I did buy a couple of tickets for the 1.3 billion dollar Powerball drawing…just in case…despite the fact that I’m very aware that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.) But the wagering I’m doing now is different because I’m betting on my own behavior.
Along with this year’s New Year’s resolutions about diet and exercise, I started using the app Pact on my smartphone. With Pact I am betting on myself. Last week I bet that I would exercise three times and that I would eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables. And I met my requirements within the first few days of the week, so this week I increased my bet to three times exercising and 15 servings of fruit and veggies. If I meet my wager, I get paid. But for every veggie or workout that I miss, I owe $5. The money from the people who fail is divided up among those who succeed.
I’ll probably get about a dollar for last week’s success (I’ll find out for sure tomorrow). And that’s not a lot, I know. But somebody is paying me for doing healthy things that I was going to be doing anyway. And if I get a dollar a week for the rest of the year, that’s $50, just for doing things that are good for me. And that’s a bet I’m willing to take.
When I look around my basement I see a wealth of bad decisions and procrastination. Things I purchased thinking they would be perfect…and then they weren’t. Things I replaced with upgrades and then never got rid of the old ones. Clothes I never wear or can’t fit into. Hobbies that are no longer my hobbies. So much stuff!
I know that there are several ways to purge my stuff and make some money in the process. The easiest way to clear everything all at once is to have a garage sale. In one or two days the stuff disappears and I get some cash. But this is the method that reaps the least financial reward. Garage sale shoppers are shrewd hagglers. They won’t pay a lot for most things. Maybe a dollar for a shirt or fifty cents for a book. You have to be selling a lot of stuff to make much money this way.
The next step up from here is local online sites. Craigslist. Swap and sell pages on Facebook. These are free to use and will command a higher sale price on your items. But this method is more work. You have to list your items online with descriptions and pictures. You have to arrange to meet with your buyers to make the transaction. But I find that this is the best way to actually get a fair price on bulky items such as appliances or garden tools or camping gear. It’s worth the time and effort.
The highest yield I have found comes from selling on eBay. This is especially true for electronics. My last cell phone and my old Kindle will be finding their way to eBay soon. But this is an even bigger investment. You have to put together a great listing with lots of pictures. There is a charge to list your items. You have to be set up with a PayPal account to receive payment. You have to predict shipping charges. You have to package up and ship the item once it has sold. It really does require some serious work. But you can control the reserve price to make sure you receive at least the lowest price you are willing to accept.
As with so many things, reselling items will bring varying reward depending on the effort you invest. But any of these options will have to be a better choice than maintaining a basement full of guilt and regret.