Money, motivation and teenage enthusiasm

We’ve had some interesting conversations with Mr14 relating to motivation. He’s been wanting to save money to buy his own gaming computer, but he doesn’t have a good track record with saving. This gaming computer is a frequent subject of Mr14’s conversation and research, and with school holidays on us again, Matt reminded him of his holiday spending habit. That is, ending up with $0 at the end.

We’re the types of people who like to dangle carrots, but it doesn’t seem to work on Mr14. I recently tried offering him money in exchange for paying more attention in class, but he wasn’t interested. We’ve also offered to match any income he may raise through busking. He said no to that too. So, it prompted us to ask last night, “do you prefer carrots or sticks?”. After explaining what we meant, he said that he responds better to sticks. He’d rather avoid losing something by getting the work done than to get the work done and gain something.

That’s consistent with the evidence of the past month. He’s managed to save some money purely through not having access to it— because we hadn’t topped up the parent funds on our Spriggy account. That’s what we call forced savings, and adults achieve that through tax or utility bills by routinely overpaying, or by channeling automatic payments into an interest-bearing account.

For now, Mr14 is swimming in cash. He’s finished a big letterbox drop and he’s just had his delayed allowance payments drop into his card. We’ve got two weeks for this school holidays. Let’s see how he responds to Matt’s latest carrot: if there’s at least $200 left in the account at the end of the holidays, he’ll give Mr14 $100.

Does your teenager respond to sticks or carrots?


We do not have a commercial arrangement with Spriggy, except as customers, but if you sign up with this affiliate link, your account will come pre-loaded with $5 and our account will be topped up with $5, too.

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