Monday, February 23, 2009

Do you need a Weight Loss Bookie?

I read a fascinating piece in the New York Times a few weeks ago. It was about a new online service that allows you to place monetary bets regarding your ability to meet your own specified lifestyle goals. Bets may range from quitting smoking, quitting drinking, spending less, studying more etc., but one of the most popular categories are weight loss bets.

Every week you fail to meet your goals the site bills your credit card and then holds your money in escrow until the end of your challenge. Who gets your money then is up to you. You can of course set up bets whereby you've challenged a friend and the winner takes all, or you can allocate it to charity but more interestingly you also set it up so that the money goes an "anti"-charity (someone you'd hate to see your money go to).

The site, is the brainchild of Yale professors Dean Karlan and Ian Ayres who had done research on how contractual committments helped with both smoking cessation and weight loss and with the help of a graduate student of theirs, set up the site.

I think it's a brilliant website and certainly for some may help them getting that last little bit of motivation to finally do whatever it is they've now entered into a binding contract to do.

Who'd be your "anti"-charity. Not too tough to figure out who mine might be.